Dog Sounds

Every dog is unique, from its markings to its personality to its vocalizations and sounds. Although dogs can’t communicate directly with humans, they’ve become surprisingly capable of expressing themselves. You will learn that canines get their fears, excitement, needs, and wants met through their dog sounds between body language and various vocalizations.

Dog Sounds Are Their Ways To Be Vocal

Communication isn’t always the easiest thing to get across. It’s important to remember that some dogs have a wider assortment of vocalizations than other breeds. Huskies are known for their talking.

Rottweilers are known for their purring. Shiba Inu is infamous for its trademark scream.

While these breeds may have unique vocals, the average dog still has several unique sounds they make to get your attention. To help you understand what they are and how they should translate into your everyday life.

The Different Sounds a Dog Makes

#1 Dog Sound is the Standard Barking

All dogs bark. It doesn’t matter if your dog is a two-pound chihuahua or a 200-pound Napoleon Mastiff; their barks are a key part of their communication style. Some dogs will have a deep and intimidating bark, and others will have a high, squeaky bark. From fear, frustration, need, excitement, or happiness, it’s not only the bark that will get their point across but the body language that goes along with it.

Dog Sounds Barking

Barking with Different Body Language

After a long day at work, returning home to a barking dog that has its tail wagging, prancing walk, and ears relaxed is a good indication that you’ve been missed. In fact, this body language combined with the dog sound of barking would suggest happiness and excitement. Alternatively, if a stranger knocks at the door and your dog responds with their ears pointing backward, fur up on the neck, and a solid posture, it would suggest an alert and on-guard pose.

A dog sound barking at a higher pitch can also provide a solid indication of how they’re feeling. For most dogs, a higher pitch suggests happiness, excitement, and interest. A lower pitch bark will normally suggest fear, anger, or perceiving something as a threat.

Dog Sounds Growling

The Growl: A Menacing Dog Sounds

Dogs have the unique ability to take something as menacing as a deep, low growl and transform it from a menacing act into something playful, too. Most dogs will growl when feeling threatened or injured. They are warning sounds that allow humans to recognize that a specific behavior needs to stop before actions (like lunging, biting, or snapping of teeth) are escalated.

A dog’s growl may also vary depending on the situation; having a strange person approach and startle him may result in one type of growling dog sound, while seeing a squirrel sitting on the fence may cause another reaction. The growl can also indicate play, especially if playing tug with a toy or rough-housing with another dog.

Whining (a.k.a. Sometimes, Annoying Dog Sound)

For many dog owners, the infamous whine can have a host of reasons. It’s versatile and effective at giving information to the intended subject. Normally, a dog sounds whining because it has a want or need that's not being met. That could stand for toys, food, treats, or affection.

For example, a dog may whine in his food bowl if he’s hungry. He may also whine at the door if he wants to go for a walk. It’s an effective method of bringing awareness to his needs without being loud and assertive.

Likewise, whining can also be effective at showing emotion. A dog suffering from anxiety may whine when faced with triggers (like separation anxiety and the owner leaves) or stimuli. When whining is done out of anxiety or fear, your dog will match it with physical behaviors like lowered tail, ears retracted, and lip licking.

Whining can highlight pain or discomfort as well. For some dogs, whining and excessive panting are clear indicators of pain, particularly if you notice lameness, pacing, or a change in appetite.

A dog's whining sound seems to be increasing or persists beyond usual behaviors (for example, if your dog is usually quiet but suddenly starts whining excessively), it’s always wise to have a veterinarian check him out.

Dog Sounds Groan

The Groan and Sigh is a Dog Sounds of Letting Go

Like humans, a dog will sigh when experiencing disappointment or contentment (if he’s gotten super comfortable, for example). If the dog has been trying to convince you that the steak on the table would go nicely with their dinner instead of yours and has been ignored, it may flop down with a sigh of disappointment.

Likewise, a dog that has just found a comfortable bed after running around all afternoon may let out the dog sound of a big sigh of contentment as he settles in for a nap.

When it comes to sighs and groans, humans and dogs are relatively similar.

dog sounds yelping

The Yelp Will Get Your Attention

Considerably different than whining, the yelp is a strong indicator of pain. Dogs will yelp to share distress or concern with other pack members (including the human family). If your dog gets injured or distressed, hearing the dog sound of a yelp helps others react positively to the communication.

By signaling to the group, your dog is telling you that he’s been hurt and either needs care or is warning you to take caution and proceed further. It’s also a fast and effective way to alert a dog that playtime has become too rough (being bitten too hard, for example).

Dog Sounds Husky Howling

My Huskies' Favorite Dog Sounds: The Howl

This high-pitched sound is infamous among huskies, who generally consider the dog sound to be a communication method between pack members. The howl is typically imitated when there are emergency vehicles or if they’re trying to locate pack members.

For some canines, the howl can be taught as a command by owners. Normally, howling would indicate separation distress or a signal of isolation.

If you happen to notice your dog becomes more vocal shortly after leaving the house or perhaps just after you return home from work, there’s a good chance your dog has associated those vocalizations with loneliness and isolation.

If you’re concerned about the level of howling, consider training your dog to “quiet” himself on command. It may not work after you’ve left the house, but at least you can control the noise while you’re at home.

Offer your dog stimulation with a few toys, bones, or chews when you leave the house. The distraction may deter him from barking, yelping, and howling.

Dog Sounds Stomach Noises

Common Dog Body Sounds

Just like humans, dogs are known for making weird sounds. A stomach will gurgle, sinuses bug them, and the odd sound may seem a bit terrifying. But it’s important to remember that most dog sounds are completely normal. If you’re concerned about a new sound your dog is making, read on to find out if it’s normal.

Stomach Noises

Formally called borborygmi, the stomach is known for making sounds as gas moves from one portion of the intestines to another. In fact, it’s quite common and normal to encounter gas in the intestines.

Motility is required to move food through the digestive tract. The majority of the time, borborygmi are quiet.

If you place your ear to your dog’s stomach, you should hear periods of silence followed by a dog sound of soft gurgling.

Loud Noises from the Stomach Area

Occasionally, these sounds can become quite audible and loud. Should this occur, it is likely caused by large quantities of gas or increased inactivity.

Finally, if your dog is hungry, it’s not uncommon to hear many noises coming from his stomach. That’s because higher quantities of gas to solids are naturally found in the intestines of canines.

When it comes to mealtime, your dog begins anticipating the meal and will naturally have more gas within his digestive tract, and you can hear a very audible dog sound from their stomach.

Signaling a Potential Problem

Gastrointestinal upset is another cause for loud intestinal gurgling, especially if there is a dietary indiscretion (eating something he shouldn’t have). Normally this type of upset is mild in nature and will only last for a short period of time. It’s important to remember that some dietary indiscretions can cause significant problems like severe diarrhea or vomiting. It can lead to pancreatitis in dogs too.

Identifying Other Serious Causes for Gastrointestinal Sounds 

Although less common, there are potentially serious causes for your dog’s stomach to make significant noises. Issues like intestinal parasites, gastrointestinal foreign bodies (when something has become stuck in the digestive tract), inflammatory bowel disease, reactions to medications, glandular disorders, or toxicities can all be the culprit behind a loud, gurgling stomach.

Dog Sounds Can Come From A Breathing Problem

Ever noticed that your dog will occasionally snort, hack, honk, and hiccup all at once? You’re not the only one. While most pet parents worry about the unruly sounds coming from their dog, most of the time, they do not cause alarm. You will learn that these episodes are typically short-lived. They are caused by irritation or spasms within the throat and soft palate. Other triggers will typically include pulling on the leash, foreign objects, viruses, allergies, or environmental irritants.

When Your Dog Has a Cough

Don't be too concerned with an odd cough. When the cough is persistent, then there may be cause for concern. Serious problems are often associated with constant coughs in dogs, including fungal infections, heartworms, distemper, kennel cough, and heart failure.

If you notice this dog sound and believe your dog is having difficulty breathing (from swelling or a blockage), always err on the side of caution.  Contact your vet immediately.

Occasionally, sticks, food, debris, or other foreign objects can become wedged in the airway, resulting in reduced breathing.

Developing a Persistent Sneeze

Like the occasional sneeze we wind up having, the odd sneeze isn’t a problem for your pup. If it seems like he can’t seem to stop, it’s something to investigate further.

Dust, smoke, and nasal mites can cause a persistent sneeze that your dog can’t seem to shake. Likewise, sinus infections, rhinitis, and tumors can also cause the same symptoms. It may be important to check out this dog sound.

Snoring Isn’t Always Problematic Dog Sounds.

Do you have a breed with a naturally occurring short snout? You know that they are predisposed to snoring. Their nasal passages are significantly shortened and narrowed. These breeds often include Pugs, Shih Tzus, and English Bulldogs.

Although the dog sound of snoring is quite common, it’s always important to keep an eye on any situation that seems outside of normal. If your dog has never been one to snore and suddenly keeps you up at night with sounds that could wake the dead, there may be something going on that needs to be addressed.

The odd night of snoring isn’t always a problem, but if it becomes an ongoing issue, getting your pup to the vet may be a good idea.

Snoring can occur for various reasons, from head positioning to a minor irritant in the air passageways. Second-hand smoke, dust, and allergies are common culprits of snoring, especially in dogs that don’t have short snouts.

Although less common, serious conditions that can cause snoring include excess weight, hypothyroidism, an abscessed tooth, and sleep apnea.

Always Trust Your Gut

When it comes to being a pet parent, you’re going to know your dog’s personality better than anyone else. You understand their level of normal, from vocalizations to snoring and everything in between.

So you’re concerned about any new or developing symptoms, especially ones that are out of the ordinary for your pup. If so, always have them checked out by a vet.

Most sounds are probably normal. If you feel serious health issues are at stake, it’s always better to be on the safe side.

Final Thoughts on Dog Sounds

If you’re noticing an increase in symptoms, take a few moments to start a log of the symptoms. Indicate the date, time, symptoms, and frequency. If there are any other symptoms (like weepy eyes, coughing up kibble, mucus, or excessive shedding), include those as well. The more detailed you are with your diary, the more accurate the veterinarian's diagnosis will be. The veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam and, depending on the results, may require further testing to determine the cause.

While some resolutions may be simple (for example, allergy medications), others may require surgery (for example, when faced with a foreign body in the airway). The veterinarian will discuss all potential solutions with you ahead of time unless it is an emergency.

Dog Sounds 

Diana currently lives and works in London, UK and she's been an animal lover and dog owner since she was a child. After graduating high school, she focused on getting her degree in English to become a writer with a focus on animals, pets and dogs.