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22 Types Of Dog Barks And Sounds + What They Mean (2023)

Types Of Dog Barks And Sounds

You can only imagine what it would be like if you could talk to dogs.

And the best you can do is try to decode their barks.

So let me tell you all you need to know about that. 

As well as other types of sounds that dogs make.

Keep reading to find out:

  • 5 fascinating canine sounds you need to know.
  • 17 incredible types of dog barks (watch out for #3). 
  • If barking is innate or a byproduct of domestication in dogs (myth-busted).
  • And much, much, more…

17 types of dog barks

#1: “Play with me!” bark

This bark comes in 2 syllables. 

Because it has low growls in between.

And it repeatedly sounds like:


What it means

By its name, your pooch barks this way to initiate play with you.

Moreover, like Tipsy, the dog in the video…

You’ll catch this sound when Fido has a toy in their mouth or nearby.

But without that prop, it can be a bit complicated to spot.

As research says:

It’s less distinguishable from those that are aggressive in nature.

With that, you’ll also need to rely on your dog’s body language while they vocalize. As well as how they’re acting.

So, according to AKC, watch out for these indications of playfulness:

  • Grinning.
  • Play bowing.
  • Exposing their belly.
  • Tail wagging energetically. 
  • Having bouncy movements.

#2: “Don’t come closer” bark

There’s a reason why people back off when a dog barks this way.

As its sound fully resonates despite being low-pitched.

Moreover, it’s mixed with growls after every snarl. 

With the “r’s” making rumbling sounds, this bark is a rough version of:


Then, it intensifies and gets more aggressive until it gets handled.

What it means

This is also called “territorial barking.”

And it’s an excessive type of aggressive yapping in dogs.

Your canine directs it toward an incoming threat…

Which can be anyone approaching their territory.

That includes your home and the area surrounding it. 

As well as your dog’s spots, like their bed and playpen.

They’ll also display it around places they associate with you. 

Examples of that are your bed and your car.

Other than that, Fido can also be territorial in areas they spend a lot of time in. 

An example of that is the route you take during walks.

#3: The ultimatum

The previous type of bark just progressed and led to this.

As this time, your pup’s voice becomes harsher.

Moreover, their growls become longer and louder.

From time to time, they’ll take a short pause… 

But their next bark will take you by surprise.

And it’s going to sound like:


What it means

This time, the threat has crossed the line. 

And Fido is unhappy about it.

So, from territorial barking…

It’s become a serious one where your pooch is ready to attack the threat.

With that, this is the last chance for it to back off. Hence the name I’ve given it.

Warning: When your canine’s ultimatum is neglected, this can lead to a cruel bite.

#4: The alert machine

Your pooch will be barking in a harsh and gruff tone non-stop.

Then, the sound they make is whole.

And it’ll echo through your walls…

Or resonate along a wide radius.

It’s less harsh than the previous type of bark. 

But it sounds a bit similar as your pooch will repetitively voice out:

“Arf arf arf!”

What it means

Your pupper barks this way when something’s suspicious.

So, the sound they make aims to alert the whole house… 

And even alarm the neighborhood if they can.

But as I mentioned, it sounds identical to territorial barking.

So, watch how Fido fidgets their way through.

Because that’s the simplest way to differentiate this bark from others.

As they’ll often move or pounce a step forward for each bark.

Moreover, as you’ve seen in the video…

The GSD not only paces too much…

But she also fits an activity, like drinking water, between snarls.

#5: The enthusiastic barker

You’ll hear high-pitched yelps in between your dog’s barks on this one.

And it comes with low to medium roars, which ultimately makes this sound:


Sometimes, it’s also:


What it means

Your canine will begin vocalizing this way when they anticipate something.

They must’ve picked up an incoming surprise from somewhere…

However, Fido can’t pinpoint what it is yet.

Regardless, it gets them excited.

That’s why they let out enthusiastic yelps. 

#6: The horror booth bark 

Ever heard your dog bark then scream like a little girl?

In case you haven’t…

I’m talking about their piercing yelps in between or after high-pitched barks. 

So, it goes like:

“Arfff Arfff – AeeeeEee!”

What it means

Your pup makes this sound when they’re scared.

And they’re easily frightened of things that surprise them.

You might’ve walked behind your pooch. Or touched them unexpectedly.

Moreover, anything new to Fido can also shock them.

For example, it’s their first time interacting with a rodent. 

At first, your doggo will bark at it non-stop in a high-pitched tone.

Once it moves, your pup lets out a shrill yelp.

Then, in the video I showed, the pup barks and screams while bathing.

As frightful activities or places can also trigger this type of bark.

You might also want to know: 7 Weird Reasons Why Your Dog Is Acting Scared + Tips

#7: The boredom siren

Most of the barks I listed here are repetitive. 

However, this one stands out because your dog’s tone is monotonous.

And it’s the most annoying as it can last for hours.

All you’ll hear is this in 1 tone:

“Woorff! Woorff!”

What it means

AKC says your pup barks this way when they lack stimulation.

With that, they have so much energy at their disposal.

So, to let that out…

They’ll bark in a tone as dull as their day.

“But I exercise them daily. Why is this still happening?”

Well, their body isn’t the only thing that needs to be active.

Because you must also provide mental enrichment for Fido.

That can be in the form of playing mentally stimulating games. 

Or providing them with interactive toys.

#8: The hint of frustration

These are ceaseless high-pitched barks.

And in between them are whines and sharp howls.

Put those all together, and they’ll sound like:

“Eeerrr wooor.”

What it means

Your pup shows their frustration through this bark. 

Fido knows that the thing they want is beyond their control.

So all they do is bark and whine to complain about it.

And although it’s for everyone to hear…

This is directed toward the place, activity, or thing they desire.

Moreover, their disappointment can be too strong…

Their vocalizations often come with destructive behaviors.

#9: “I demand attention!” bark

Fido lets out medium-pitched and spaced barks in this one. 

Which also go with several small woofs followed by low grumbles.

Mix all of those, and it sounds a bit like:


What it means

I Demand Attention Bark

When they do this, your dog is seeking your attention.

That’s why they’ll also be staring at you. 

As if waiting for you to acknowledge them and give them what they want.

If not, then the barking will be proceeded by disruptive behaviors.

According to SFSPCA, those are:

#10: “I’m all alone…” woofs

This type of bark resonates in a single-spaced and rhythmic manner.

On larger dogs, this sound is whole.

But if your pup is small, it’s usually high-pitched. 

In between barks, there’s usually whining as well.

Sometimes, their barks are followed by a long and sharp howl.

What it means

Separation anxiety can drive your pooch to bark this way persistently.

SPCA says no other stimulus triggers this type of yapping. Except for being left alone.

In the video, Monty begged to be removed from the cage. 

Aside from that, this is also a dog’s call for companionship…

And most of the time, they ask for their favorite person’s presence.

Read more about it: Why Does My Dog All Of A Sudden Have (Separation) Anxiety?

#11: The dog-to-dog yapping

This comes in the usual “Arff-Arff” sound…

However, your pup’s tone will shift between high and low pitches.

Moreover, their barks are mixed with low growls and rumbles.

And they also come with a little bit of short and low-toned howling. 

What it means

ASPCA also calls this “socially facilitated barking.”

It’s a type of yapping in dogs that are environmentally triggered.

That’s why Fido won’t bark this way unless they have another pup to talk to.

That said, dogs use it in a social context.

Which is proof that barking isn’t a byproduct of domestication in canines.

Instead, research says:

Barking has a functional, emotional, and social value among dogs. 

And they’ve been using it long before humans came into their lives.

With that, canines use barkings for the following reasons:

  • Arguing.
  • Greeting.
  • Caregiving.
  • Invitation to play.

Continue reading: Do Dogs Understand Other Dogs Barks? 3 Surprising Answers

#12: The old dog bark

This is a bit challenging to differentiate from others.

As it simply sounds like the standard “Arff-Arff” sound.

And it can range from low-pitch to high-pitch barks.

However, it’s nonsensical…

Because it occurs at random times and in out-of-context settings.

What it means

Senior dogs are the only ones that show this type of bark.

As it’s a symptom of canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CCD).

It’s the dog equivalent to a human’s dementia.

According to PetMD, CCD causes confusion and disorientation.

Moreover, it puts your senior doggo under too much anxiety.

All of that feeling leads to short-lived yaps like this.

Some dogs even bark once and then stop.

As there are no apparent triggers for Fido to do this.

But because they feel lost, trapped, and frightened…

They vocalize their fear and disappointment. 

#13: The lonely call

This is another type of high-pitched bark.

Like in the video, there’s a pattern in its sound.

Usually, the yaps come in 2 or 3.

Then, it’s followed by a short pause.

What it means

Lonely dogs will make their feelings known through this bark.

But most fur parents rarely observe this on their pooch…

That’s because canines show this when their human is gone for the day.

So the neighbors are the regular recipients of this yapping.

However, there are times that Fido barks this way when you’re around.

Because when you get lonely…

Your pupper can actually catch your emotions.

Based on this study, dogs can detect your feelings through your facial expressions.

Then, renowned psychologist Dr. Stanley Coren stated:

Canines will empathize and sympathize with their parents.

But only in the same manner as a young human would.

Regardless, when you cry in front of your pooch…

You’ll likely get this bark as a reaction from them. 

#14: The cautious welcome 

This type of bark isn’t complete without the short and low growls.

Moreover, the yaps can range from medium to high pitch sounds.

Sometimes, it starts shallow and turns into sharp barks.

What it means

This is a canine’s form of greeting humans.

If the person is familiar to them…

The barks will be more high-pitched.

And it’s mixed with more squeaky howls to show some excitement.

However, if they’re barking at a stranger…

Their yaps will sound fuller with a medium pitch.

This is where they’re cautiously welcoming.

As they’re not yet sure of the person’s intention.

#15: The barks of pain

In this list, this is the bark with the highest pitch.

Your pup will let go of the squeakiest sound that might no longer sound like a bark.

But in most cases…

A few full-sounded barks make their way between the whines.

What it means

This is an indication that your pup is in pain.

Someone might have stepped on their limb or tail by surprise.

It’s also their way of letting you know they got trapped somewhere.

Or they were playing with their fellow canine, and it got too rough.

Other times, it’s also a sign your pooch is injured or sick. And they need immediate relief.

#16: The bark of surprise

It starts with a singular bark…

Your pup might pause for a while but will yap again.

Then, your dog’s barking intensifies more, and the yaps get closer to each other.

Until it becomes a full-on barking spree.

What it means

This starts with 1 bark because it’s your dog’s involuntary reaction to a surprise.

You might have spooked them when you suddenly appeared from their back.

Or they saw something move quickly, and it stunned them.

Sometimes, it’s their response to an unfamiliar visual stimulus…

Like in the video, the dogs’ parents have strange masks on. 

Which startled the puppers at first…

Then, the single yap got followed by more barking as the stimulus persisted. 

#17: The enthusiastic yaps

Your pup’s bark will be high-pitched and steady with this one.

However, there’s no hint of aggression in their yaps.

Instead, you’ll hear high-spirited noises.

Regardless, these won’t annoy you as they’re only present in short bursts.

What it means

To end this long list on a heartwarming note:

This is your dog’s happy barks.

As they’ll yap this way when they feel excited and content.

However, it’s a bit challenging to distinguish between the other types of yaps.

Moreover, PetMD says not to assume your dog’s happiness through this 1 sign. 

Ideally, you must also watch out for other signals of cheerfulness in Fido. Which are:

  • Wiggly body and tail.
  • Smiling (mouth is softly open).
  • Soft gaze from relaxed facial muscles.
  • Floppy ears (resting naturally on their head).

5 other dog sounds

#1: Whining

Whines can vary in the following:

  • Tone.
  • Duration.
  • Frequency.

But one thing that lets it stand out is its high-pitched nature.

What it means

This is often taken as a dog’s way of crying. 

As canines display it during times of anxiety, fright, and pain.

However, ASPCA reveals that pups also whine to:

  • Greet.
  • Satisfy.
  • Show excitement.

It’s also your dog’s effort to ask for something they want or need. Which could be:

  • A toy.
  • Food.
  • Attention.
  • Bathroom break.

Learn more: 13 Odd Reasons Why Dogs Whine At Night + 5 Tips To Stop It

#2: Growling

Your dog growls by making harsh and rumbling sounds.

Which are often followed by an equally raspy bark.

What it means

PetMD says playing dogs would growl at their mate.

However, this sound is intimidating.

As it’s also your pup’s way of warning you or the threat.

So if a pooch growls at you when you interact with them…

You should stop what you’re doing to them and stay back for a while.

That said, you must learn the difference between a play growl and a warning growl.

As for me, my way to tell is by looking at the canine’s body language.

With that, here’s a table to help you assess the situation:

IntentionBody language and other indications
PlayLoose body language with a relaxed posture and facial muscles. 

The tail and ears are held in a natural position. 

Moreover, both dogs playfully growl at each other.
RetaliationDog is crouching down with their ears flattened. 

Their tail is tucked between their legs. 

And their teeth are bared.
Territorial Their head is lowered to avoid eye contact. 

Plus, their ears are held back. 

Then, their mouth is tight while their lips are drawn back to bare their teeth.
Resource guardingGrowls when there’s a toy or belonging nearby they want to protect. 

They’ll also make direct eye contact to cause more intimidation.

#3: Howling

It’s a distinguishable dog sound that comes in the form of:


And it varies in length and loudness, depending on the pup.

What it means

Contrary to popular belief, all canines can howl.

However, some pups do it less. 

While dogs like Siberian Huskies are too vocal and howl too much.

And according to VCA Hospitals, here are the reasons why dogs vocalize this way:

  • Attention-seeking.
  • Claiming a territory.
  • Sharing their location.
  • Seeking help (due to pain or injury).
  • Announcing a discovery (ex. a toy, food, etc.).
  • Response to a similar sound (ex. while you sing).

Read also: 11 Interesting Reasons Why Your Dog Doesn’t Howl + 3 Tips

#4: Sighing

Just like the way humans sigh…

Your pup will take a deep breath.

Then, release the air they inhaled a few seconds after.

What it means

This sound could either be a sign of contentment or disappointment.

When it’s the former…

Your pup will sigh with half-closed eyes.

But if they’re upset, they’ll let the air out of their nose while their eyes are wide open.

#5: Groaning

Your doggo lets out raspy “Mm-hmmms” to make this sound.

What it means

Most of the time, canines groan to show pleasure and contentment.

That’s why they’ll groan while you’re giving them a belly rub or a petting.

However, this sound also indicates growing pains in their body.

Which is usually caused by an illness.

Sometimes, dogs groan to seek your attention.