NPR logo 'Debarking' Dogs: An Ethical Dilemma

Must Reads

'Debarking' Dogs: An Ethical Dilemma

German Shepherd Daz Lightning breaks the Guiness World Record for the world's loudest individual dog bark on June 15, 2009. David Parry/Press Association via AP Images hide caption

toggle caption
David Parry/Press Association via AP Images

German Shepherd Daz Lightning breaks the Guiness World Record for the world's loudest individual dog bark on June 15, 2009.

David Parry/Press Association via AP Images

As someone who's had a maniacally barking dog as a neighbor on more than one occasion, I have to admit that the notion of responsible dog owners "debarking" their non-stop yappers has a certain appeal.

But the practice of debarking a dog isn't without its ethical dimension, as a New York Times story reports:

Critics of the debarking procedure say it is outdated and inhumane, one that destroys an animal's central means of communication merely for the owner's convenience. Many veterinarians refuse to do the surgery on ethical grounds. Those who do rarely advertise it.

On the other hand, some people in the story say they would have to give up their pets without the surgery.

At least a debarked dog can still protect itself by growling, baring its teeth and, when all else fails, biting. So debarking isn't quite the same as disarming a cat by declawing it which leaves a feline without its major defense.

Maybe on balance debarking isn't so bad after all, considering the alternatives.