Why Doesn't Your Labrador Bark? 6 Simple Reasons

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Barking is one of the most noticeable ways through which your Labrador pours out its heart to you. Often, they let out moderate barks to alert you of impending danger, discomfort, or when they need something. Therefore, as a cautious dog parent, it's okay to be worried if your Labrador doesn't bark.

If your Labrador doesn’t bark, it’s because of its age, timid personality, or previous training. Often, Labradors don't bark when they're still getting accustomed to their owners or a new environment. However, health concerns such as vocal issues and past trauma may also contribute to this behavior.

Before getting concerned right away, determine if there is an environmental factor that might explain the lack of barking. Know the common reasons why a Lab doesn't bark, and signs to look for that may indicate it is more serious.

In this article

Some Labradors Are Quieter Than Others

Generally, Labradors aren't vocal, and this may be the primary reason why your Lab is quieter than other canines in the neighborhood. In most cases, Labradors only bark to issue alerts.

Therefore, if your Lab's failure to bark isn't associated with any signs of withdrawal, pain, or an underlying medical condition, then it's more likely a thing to do with its personality. If this is the case, then it shouldn't be a cause of an alarm.

Here, your Lab won't be a bother to you or your neighbors, and you'll also be quick to attend to it anytime it barks because it might be a sign that it’s not okay.

Your Lab Is Going Through an Adjustment Period

Another reason why your Lab doesn't bark might be it's not yet familiar with you.

If you recently adopted a pup, it might not be comfortable barking around. This is understandable because it is still trying to get to know you better. And depending on your Lab's personality and how you relate to it, it might take a few days, weeks, or even months before your Lab gets used to you and starts being vocal freely.

The same case applies if you move to a new place. Here, your Lab might take some time to adapt to the new environment, which might affect its freedom of being vocal.

If you are dealing with a recently adopted Lab or have just moved into a new place, give it some time to adjust and see whether it gets vocal once accustomed to the new conditions. If it doesn't, then this might not be the only reason behind it not barking.

labrador with ball

Vocal Issues Can Reduce/Eliminate Barks

If your Labrador was barking, then the barks suddenly reduced or disappeared completely; it might be something to do with your Lab’s vocals.

Canines are prone to throat infections which might affect your Lab's ability to bark. On the more serious end, throat cancer can affect your pup's larynx, making it hard for it to bark. While less common, it is important to be aware of the possibility and to not take the situation lightly.

In the event that your canine's barks start reducing or disappear completely, observe any accompanying signs such as increased drooling, noisy breathing, and gagging when consuming food. If you notice any of these, seek immediate medical attention!

Besides throat infections and throat cancer, your Lab's vocals may be affected if it had been recently barking or coughing a lot, making its throat sore and its voice coarse. In such a case, your Lab needs some time to heal and relax.

Labs Bark Less As They Age

Another reason why your Lab doesn't bark might be due to its age. As Labradors get older, they can begin to suffer from hearing loss. This means they can't go on reacting to sound as much as they did in their younger days.

Also, barking tends to correlate with higher levels of energy and excitement. As you might expect, as they age their levels of both dwindle.

Labradors have an average lifespan of 10-12 years. If your Lab is about this age, then the most probable reason for it not barking might be due to its old age.

senior labrador

Past Trauma Can Make a Lab Refuse To Bark

Yes, dogs get traumatized, too.

One of the negative things that could be contributing to your Lab's failure to bark is past trauma, especially if it's a shelter or rescue dog.

Some dog parents don't really care about their canines and may be aggressive towards them or even abuse them physically whenever they bark. Dogs rescued from such homes are often traumatized and always associate barking with something negative.

Past traumas may make a Lab reluctant to bark even after being transferred to a safer home.

If your Lab is a shelter or rescue dog, this might be one of the reasons why it doesn't bark. In such a case, don't pressure your dog; show it love, affection, attention, and also consider training it. Depending on the extent of the trauma, your Lab may heal and start barking again.

Your Lab Was Previously Trained Not To Bark

Labradors are an obedient canine breed, always looking forward to pleasing their parents. Therefore, if a Lab had been previously trained not to bark, it might hold on to this for life.

While training your pup not to bark is a good thing because it reduces noise distractions, it might limit your dog’s freedom to express its needs.

If your Lab had a previous owner, consider reaching out to them to clarify this or start training your pup to bark whenever you want it to.

Besides training by a previous owner, you might have also advertently trained your Lab not to bark during the early training stages. If you think this might have happened, consider training your dog to bark whenever it sees danger or when it needs something.

What Should You Do if Your Labrador Won't Bark?

While it's okay to get worried if your Labrador won't bark, it shouldn't always be a cause of alarm. Here are the things you should do:

  • Give your Lab time to adjust. If you feel that your pup is still new to you or the surrounding environment, give it time to adjust. In most cases, after a Lab gets comfortable, it starts barking freely.
  • Make your Lab comfortable. If you suspect that your Lab isn't comfortable or shows signs of withdrawal or fear, you should help it feel comfortable. You can do this by spending more time with your dog, treating it with love, giving it treats or rewards, etc.
  • Rule out any medical issue. If your Lab seems weak or in pain besides not barking, consider taking it to a vet. That way, you can identify any underlying medical condition and start treatment immediately if need be.

Bottom Line

Don't be overly worried if your Lab doesn't bark because not every reason behind this is serious. Sometimes, it might be your dog's personality, previous training your dog went through before it met you, or just that it's still getting accustomed to a new environment.

However, if you suspect your Lab has an underlying issue, consider having it checked by a vet.

You can adapt some of the suggestions discussed above to deal with your Lab if it won't bark, which includes giving it time, making it feel comfortable, and training him.