A barking dog never bites
What's the meaning of the phrase 'A barking dog never bites'?
The proverb 'a barking dog never bites' isn't really about dogs. It puts forward the opinion that people who are loud and threatening don't back up their threats with action.
What's the origin of the phrase 'A barking dog never bites'?
This is an old English saying and one of the many proverbs that were collected by the Tudor courtier John Heywood.
Heywood's glossary of proverbs Thersytes, circa 1550, which he co-authored with the French writer Joannes Ravisius Textor, contains this text:
Great barking dogges, do not most byte And oft it is sene that the best men in the hoost Be not suche, that vse to bragge moste.
The meaning here is clear; braggarts may make the most noise but they aren't the most effective in action.
Dogs outdo even horses as the animals most used in English phrases and sayings, especially early ones. These include:
See also: the List of Proverbs.