Dogs bring tons of tail-wagging joy to our lives and that of our kids. While every dog deserves a loving home, not every dog is right for every household. Some families need a breed whose fur is considered safe for people with allergies. Others have a boisterous home and want a dog that doesn't mind all the excitement. Then there's the noise factor of the dog itself. If you're looking for breeds of dog that bark the least, there are certain types you'll want to look at first before considering the rest.
"Dogs bark, basically, and I hope that no one is looking for a dog that doesn't bark at all, but the amount of barking can vary according to breed," explains Carly Fox, DVM, a staff doctor in the Emergency and Critical Care department of the Animal Medical Center in New York. "Some owners might prefer a dog that barks if they have a large yard or want a protector, but if you live in an apartment, you might want a quieter one," Fox adds.
Smaller children might be frightened by an overly vocal pooch, which would go against the whole idea of having a pet in the first place. Or maybe parents might decide that their kids are rowdy enough without adding a yappy dog to the mix.
"To determine whether an individual dog is a 'barker,' it's best to get to know them and observe their behavior under a variety of situations," explains Jennifer Coates, DVM, a vet expert for Chewy. "The dog's breeder, previous owner, or shelter personnel should also be able to give you an idea of how vocal they are."
Here are some of the breeds vet experts recommend for families looking for a quieter pet.
1. French Bulldog
"If you're looking for a dog that doesn't bark, I recommend a French bulldog — I have one myself," says Dr. Fox. "They don't bark unless they want something." That, plus its manageable size, sweet personality, and suitability for any size family, makes the Frenchie one of the most popular breeds in the country, according to the American Kennel Club.
"Sight hounds, like Greyhounds or Whippets, are more quiet than other types of hunting dogs like Beagles," explains Dr. Fox. And though they're speedy runners when they need to be, they're more than happy to laze around the house after chasing after tennis balls at the park, according to the AKC.
When you're as big as this guy, you don't need to yell a lot to make yourself known. This massive breed may look imposing to strangers, but it's also surprisingly gentle, quiet, and sweet with kids. "You'd think Mastiffs would bark a lot, but they don't," says Dr. Fox. Adds Dr. Coates, "Giant breeds, like Great Danes and Newfoundlands, tend not to bark much, probably because of their mellow personalities."
4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Less excitable and yappy than most toy breeds, yet still energetic enough to love a daily run, the Cav "doesn't bark much, either," says Dr. Fox. Their sweet disposition and ability to adapt to any size family also make this breed a popular choice, according to the AKC.
"The Basenji is often called the 'barkless dog,'" explains Dr. Coates, "but they do make odd yodeling noises, probably because of the unusual anatomy of the voicebox." So don't choose this breed expecting it never to make a sound, but it won't keep you awake with its barks, either. The AKC added that it has a low-maintenance coat and does well with families that can give it ample daily exercise.
"Shar-Peis are another relatively small and quiet breed of dog," says Dr. Coates. "They can bark, but don't often do so." Dr. Fox adds, "They're very cute."
Forget those old Lassie TV episodes where the hero dog barked constantly to let the owners know that little Timmy was in danger again. "Collies don't traditionally bark much, unless they want something," says Dr. Fox. In addition to being quiet, they love kids and are easy to train, per the AKC.
8. Shiba Inu
This fox-like dog originated in Japan, and "they're the quiet type," affirms Dr. Fox. Alert and confident, they live happily in the city or country. However, the AKC offers some important cautions about this breed. They shed a lot, so regular brushing is a must. And Shiba Inus are notorious escape artists who can never be left in an unsecured yard, or off-leash when out on walks.