"Debarking" a dog requires a veterinarian to enter the dog's trachea and modify its vocal cords. The procedure requires the use of a general anesthesia and involves punching or notching the dog's vocal chords to soften or significantly reduce his ability to bark. No procedure is without risk and debarking risks scarring and narrowing of the tracheal opening following the surgery, causing the dog difficulty in breathing. After the surgery, the dog sounds hoarse whenever it tries to bark, and it can not generate loud barks. Sometimes the bark will return to some extent due to a build up of scar on the vocal chord but the bark will never be as loud as before.
Debarking is a contentious issue within the dog community, even among experts and veterinarians. Some advocate debarking as a helpful last-resort for incessant barkers while others maintain the process is cruel and unnecessary. This surgery is considered unethical by some veterinarians who believe that the risk does not justify the benefit while others perform this surgery routinely for certain breeds.
As such, some jurisdictions have outlawed debarking. For instance, Section 6 of the German Animal Welfare Act forbids all deliberately damaging operations. Very few exceptions, such as livestock branding of horses, are granted, but mere cosmetic surgery is not allowed.
It would be best for a potential dog owner to consider whether a loud animal is acceptable before adopting the dog, as some breeds are less likely to bark than others are. Most dogs can be trained to bark less in situations where it is inappropriate. Should debarking be considered after training has failed, locating a veterinarian that has extensive experience with the procedure is desirable to minimize the risks.
Dogs will be dogs and all dogs bark to some extent. On the other hand, neutered cats rarely make noises loud enough to disturb neighbors, and may be a better choice of pet if noise is unacceptable.