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Do Dogs Have Different Barks? 4 Vet-Approved Types With Videos

Written by: Jessica Kim

Last Updated on May 13, 2024 by Dogster Team

maltese dog barking

Do Dogs Have Different Barks? 4 Vet-Approved Types With Videos


Dr. Amanda Charles Photo


Dr. Amanda Charles

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Dogs are excellent communicators and use a variety of means to get their message across. Some of the ways they communicate are through scent, body language, and vocal tones. While your dog may not be able to form words, they can convey how they’re feeling with different types of barks. The best way to understand what your dog is trying to communicate is to learn your dog’s unique personality and vocal expressions.

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Reasons Dogs Bark

Your dog can bark for a variety of reasons. First, some dog breeds are known for being more “talkative” than others. For example, many hounds and spitz breeds tend to be vocal dogs. Beagles and Basset Hounds are known for their baying, while it’s common for Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes to howl. On the other hand, some dog breeds are much quieter and may not bark. Basenjis and Greyhounds are known to be some of the quietest dog breeds. Therefore, not all dogs will initiate communication through barking.

pomeranian puppy barking on the couch
Image Credit: nadisja, Shutterstock

Barking can be used as a means of getting your attention or alerting people in the family about a strange or new encounter. Guard dogs can bark when a stranger or intruder approaches the family property. Hunting dogs can be trained to bark to help their handlers find their location after they’ve found their quarry.

Dogs may also bark to communicate an emotion. It’s common for barking to be associated with aggressive behaviors. However, dogs can bark when they’re feeling excited, scared, or nervous. Therefore, it’s important to pay attention to context clues when a dog is barking.

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The 4 Types of Dog Barks and Canine Vocals

Differentiating the types of barking and other vocal expressions that dogs make can help you better understand what your dog is trying to communicate to you. Here are a few examples of common vocal expressions that dogs often use.

1. Barking

Dogs can change up their barking by using different pitches and varying the spaces between each bark. In general, barks in a lower pitch usually mean that a dog is feeling serious. Your dog may give a low bark when they hear a stranger at your door or want to warn younger puppies that they’re being too rowdy. In contrast, barks in higher pitches often indicate that a dog is feeling happy or excited. It’s common for dogs to give a high-pitched bark when they’re playing or feeling excited.

The frequency of barks can also indicate a dog’s mood. Dogs that have been surprised or annoyed may give a single bark. Dogs that are more riled up are more likely to let out a continuous string of barks.

2. Baying and Howling

Howling is another common canine vocalization that can indicate different things depending on the context. Dogs can howl to let other dogs know of their presence, and many dogs will join in the howling when they hear another dog howling. Sometimes, dogs will howl when they’re feeling anxious and lonely or when they’re in pain.

Dogs, typically scent hounds, can also be trained to bay when they’re hunting. Baying is often at a lower pitch and has a length that’s between a bark and a howl. It indicates that a dog has found their quarry, and the sound is meant to guide the handler to the dog’s location.

3. Growling

Dogs may growl before they bark. It’s common for dogs to growl as a warning for others to back off. Continuing to get closer or engage with a growling dog can result in an attack or bite. In other cases, dogs can growl when they’re playing. Some dogs may even growl as a sign of happiness when they’re getting petted.

Since dogs can growl when they’re both aggressive or happy, it’s important to pay attention to their behavior preceding the growling and pay attention to other body language cues. If a dog feels threatened, they can bare their teeth, flatten their ears, and get in a position to lunge and attack.

4. Yelping

Yelping sounds like an extremely high-pitched bark, and dogs will yelp for a variety of reasons. They can yelp when they’ve been surprised or scared or when they’re feeling particularly excited or aroused. Yelping can also indicate pain or discomfort. Since yelping can be a sign of physical pain, make sure to check your dog for any other signs that may warrant a visit to your veterinarian for a physical exam.

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Dogs use a variety of vocal tones to communicate how they’re feeling and if they want to get your attention. Understanding different vocal expressions will help you understand your dog better and strengthen communication between you two. When listening to your dog’s vocal tones, make sure also to pay attention to context because the same vocal expression can have a different meaning depending on the situation. With some time and attention, you’ll be able to understand what your dog is trying to say, which will only help you take even better care of your dog.

Featured Image Credit: Mary Rice, Shutterstock

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