Do Dogs Purr? Here’s Why Your Dog Makes This Sound (with Videos) 

Dogs make all kinds of sounds to communicate with their humans. Some of these noises are normal such as barking or howling. However, some owners have noticed that their dogs often make a sound similar to the purring in cats.

So, do dogs purr? Dogs do not purr in the same way cats do. They make a sound that many people often confuse with purring, but it’s actually more like a soft growl. This sound is commonly known as rumbling and dogs usually make it to communicate that they’re feeling happy, excited, anxious, afraid, startled, lonely, or bored.

Keep reading to learn more about when dogs normally start being vocal, what causes them to make a purring sound as well as other dog sounds and their meaning.

When Do Dogs Normally Start Being Vocal?

dog cuddling to show why do dogs purr

Dogs start being vocal at 2 or 3 weeks of age as they will start to see and hear clearly at that age.

They will try to communicate and respond to their surroundings and external stimuli by grunting and whining at first. By the time they reach 7 or 8 weeks of age, their communication will develop to actual barking and making other kinds of sounds.

How vocal the dog is and the kind of sounds it makes will vary depending on various factors including:

  • The dog’s personality – Some dogs have chipper personalities, so they tend to be more vocal compared to dogs with timid personalities.
  • The dog’s health – Some dogs have health problems that cause them to be less vocal such as weak hearing, throat problems, or low stamina.
  • The dog’s socialization and socialization ­– Dogs that were properly socialized and trained tend to be less vocal as they will react less to stimuli.

Can Dogs Actually Purr?

Dogs cannot actually purr, at least not in the same way that cats do.

The sound they actually make is commonly referred to by experts as “rumbling” and while it can be easily confused with purring, it’s actually a soft, toned-down version of a regular growl.

This purring or rumbling sound is not part of the dog’s usual vocal range, yet many owners have noticed that their dogs sometimes make that sound to communicate their feelings.

Check the following videos from various owners to get an idea of what purring or rumbling sounds like in dogs.

Why Do Dogs Purr?

As a dog parent, you need to understand what your dog is trying to communicate when they make any kind of sound so you can help it and provide it with what it needs.

So, let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons that dogs make a purring sound:

Happiness or Excitement

Dogs are highly emotional creatures and sometimes they cannot contain their feelings so they tend to make these soft growling noises to express happiness or excitement.

Some of the situations where a dog might make that sound include:

  • When it’s about to be mealtime
  • When the dog is playing with its owner or its favorite toys
  • When the dog is being petted or getting its belly rubbed
  • When the dog’s owner comes home after a long time apart
  • When the dog hears a knock on the door or watches people walk by in the window

Anxiety or Fear

Depending on how well the dog is socialized and trained, it might feel anxious or afraid in certain situations which will cause it to make a soft growling sound as a way to express its discomfort.

Some of the situations where a dog might make that sound include:

  • Having strangers enter its territory
  • Going to unfamiliar places and meeting new people
  • Getting yelled at or experiencing any kind of violence
  • Getting startled by loud noises such as thunderstorms, cars honking, construction work, loud television, and shouting.

Loneliness or Boredom

Dogs are social creatures and they love getting attention from their owners and doing activities with them.

So, if the dog doesn’t spend enough time with their owners or get the amount of attention they need, it will start to feel lonely or bored which will cause it to make a soft growling sound as a way of communicating its needs.

You can learn how to train your dog to adapt to being alone here.

Other Dog Sounds and Their Meaning

As mentioned before, you need to understand what your dog is trying to communicate when they make any kind of sound in order to help it and provide it with what it needs.

There are many kinds of sounds that dogs often make. So, let’s take a closer look at these sounds and what they mean:

  • Barking – Barking is the signature sound that dogs use to communicate and its meaning will vary depending on the pitch, volume, and the dog’s body language.
  • Snarling – Snarling often indicates that the dog is feeling angry. It’s usually a warning before the dog starts getting violent or attacking.
  • Whining – Whining indicates that the dog is feeling sad, embarrassed, or afraid. It’s usually accompanied by submissive body language such as lowered ears and a tucked tail.
  • Howling – Howling is often used for long-distance communication between dogs and some dogs use it to alert nearby dogs of their presence
  • Yelping – Yelping often indicates that the dog is in pain. It’s sometimes also referred to as keening.

Related Questions

What Are the Most Vocal Dog Breads?

The most vocal dog breeds include Basset Hounds, Beagles, Siberian Huskies, Malamutes, German Shepherds, Yorkshire terriers, Pomeranians, and Chihuahuas. These dog breeds tend to make a lot of noise to express themselves, but with proper socialization and training, they can learn to be quieter.

How to Stop Your Dog from Being Excessively Vocal?

To stop your dog from being excessively vocal, you need to understand what it’s trying to communicate with the sounds it’s making, then provide it with what it needs whether it’s food, attention, comfort, or exercise. You also need to socialize the dog properly so it wouldn’t make sounds out of fear or anxiety.

How to Teach Your Dog to Bark on Command?

To teach your dog to bark on command, you need to establish a command word such as “speak”, then repeat it whenever your dog is barking until it starts to associate the act of barking with the command word. Make sure to reward your dog with treats when it successfully follows the command.

Helpful Resources 

Different dog sounds and their meanings

Canine Communication and the sounds of dogs

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