Why Won't My 8-Month Old Shih Tzu Bark?

by Tanika Grayson

I just bought a Shih Tzu, but she won’t bark. Not even if she’s pinched. Could she be sick?

Angel Answers:

I don’t think you should worry. Since you’ve just bought it, probably it’s still adjusting. And there might not be any situation that is threatening to your dog. That day will come.

Karen Answers:

Sometimes it takes shihtzus up to a year to bark. It doesn’t mean she is sick. Once she learned her job is protect, believe me, she will bark.

KB Answers:

We received Sugar last week from my brother and she doesn’t bark. Well let’s just say in the past week we’ve heard her “yelp” less than 7x and the few times maybe 3, my brother said she barked…He’s had her since October. Is anything wrong with her?

Our Answer:

This is a refreshing question because Shih Tzu owners are frequently asking how to stop barking but few are concerned about a non-barking dog. It’s understandable that as new parents of a furbaby you’re concerned about all aspects of the new family member’s health.

It’s a little bit like having a child that doesn’t cry. Crying is a normal expression for a baby, the way they communicate their needs and to some extent the same is true for dogs and barking. However, there’s also a stereotype that says small dogs are “yappy” so if they’re not barking day and night there must be something wrong with them.

I was surprised the first time a fellow dog-park visitor and big-dog owner said of my three Shih Tzus “They’re cute, but I can’t stand a yapping dog.” It was especially surprising because all of my dogs were quiet as mice when he made the comment.

One of the reasons I decided to specifically adopt my first Shih Tzu is because most of the research I did pegged them as a mellow breed that didn’t tend to bark a lot. Their even temperament and happy nature means they’re less likely to be territorial, suffer from separation anxiety or be stressed out – the main reasons why dogs bark incessantly.

Too Much Barking

Any breed, any size can develop a barking dog problem. Much depends on the personality of the dog, the household, the training they receive and their daily routine. If your Shih Tzu doesn’t bark much it probably means that he’s content, gets adequate exercise and attention and feels secure in his surroundings.

Most small-breed owners have heard of the “Napoleon” complex when a small dog becomes the terror of the household and no matter what you try the dog won’t stop barking, especially when visitors come to the door. She thinks she’s in charge! But many trainers agree that an alpha dog (no matter what their size) will take over the job of guarding the home only if they feel it’s not being done by anyone else.

Another reason a dog won’t stop barking is because they don’t get enough exercise. Shih Tzus and other small breeds are popular among the elderly and others who can’t meet the exercise needs of a large dog but just because a Shih Tzu has little legs doesn’t mean they don’t need to get outside and stretch them every day.

Not Enough Barking

At one-year old my first Shih Tzu had not truly barked once – he’d quietly stare at the door or let out a gentle sigh when he needed to go outside – until we adopted our second dog. Though younger the second dog had a more assertive personality and would bark at the neighbor’s cat resting on our fence. It wasn’t until his new brother initiated barking that the older dog learned to belt one out.

Is there such a thing as not enough barking? If your Shih Tzu is healthy and happy the answer is probably no. It’s not uncommon for a puppy to reach physical maturity before it learns to really bark. Yelps and yips are common “puppy talk” but these sounds may not develop into full fledged barks until the dog is a year or older.

And even then your Shih Tzu may not bark until he hangs out with other dogs that do. Until then, enjoy the silence!

Comments for Why Won't My 8-Month Old Shih Tzu Bark?

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Sep 26, 2013
8 month old
by: Anonymous

Please don't pinch your Tzu. she will bark and then you will be asking how to stop the barking lol. just enjoy your little dog.

Mar 27, 2016
My Shih Tzu doesn't bark either...
by: Laurie

My Shih Tzu will be 7 years old April 19. I got her as a puppy and she hardly barks at all. My Mom would comment 'some watchdog you are'. I can count on two hands the times she's barked and some of those times was when I was cutting up a tomato or an orange (which she loves). I really wouldn't be concerned that your pup doesn't bark; at least she's not yapping like some dogs. I did ask my vet and she didn't seem too concerned by it. Hope this helps you feel better. I say....enjoy your pup...maybe one day she'll surprise you with a bark. :)

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