Can Dogs Purr Like Cats?

Can Dogs Purr Like Cats?
June 4, 2019

Can Dogs Purr Like Cats?

 Dogs can make a lot of different noises, many of which can have you frantically Googling ‘is my dog normal?’, the answer is probably yes, your dog is fine – but they will have something that they want to communicate with you. 

So, it is always good to be in the know about what your dog is saying to you. Even though dogs may not necessarily speak our language, they do try and talk to us, just in their own very special way. 

Different dog breeds and even different dogs in those breeds will all sound a little different from each other, but to understand your pet effectively, you have to listen out for a few key things. The key aspects to listen out for are the pitch of the vocalisation, the frequency and the duration. These three factors should be enough to tell you if your dog is sad, happy, angry or frustrated. We’ve covered the most common forms of dog vocalisation so that you and your dog can live in harmony and complete understanding – well, almost! 


The far more common dog vocalisation, as you would expect, is barking. Barking can come in many different contexts. Your dog may bark because there’s someone at the door, because it wants to go outside, or it’s frustrated or bored. Generally, dogs will use barking to alert the pack (which means you) to something. Then, it’s up to you to figure out what your dog means! 


Howling is the second most popular vocalisation, it’s the one that will undoubtedly drive your neighbours mad when you’re not home as howling is most commonly heard when the animal is in considerable distress. Depression, sickness, and separation anxiety can all lead your dog to howl, you’ll need to make sure that you tackle this problem behaviour as soon as possible through desensitization or counterconditioning. You’ll easily find guides online to help your dog stay quiet, generally, they revolve around rewarding them when they stop howling and ignoring them until they stop. 

Snarls and Growls

When your dog snarls and growls it is either telling you that they’re feeling incredibly happy and playful, or, they are giving you a warning to stay away from them. You’ll have to look at other factors aside from the vocalisation to determine what they mean. Carefully study their body language, this will be able to tell you if you should encourage them in fun playtime or give them space. Snarling around food should never be tolerated and steps must always be taken to prevent such a behaviour. 

Yelping and Whining

If you thought that the other noises that your dog can make are ambiguous, then just wait to get to grips with what it means if your dog starts whining or yelping. While many dogs may not be all too inclined to yelp, some know that it is the perfect way to get some attention! Generally, dogs will only yelp when they are in pain – which you may already know if you have ever accidentally stepped on a dog’s foot, alternatively, your dog may yelp because it wants to let you know that it needs to use the bathroom – or simply wants a treat. If you start to notice your dog repeatedly yelping, this may mean that they are suffering from an unresolved medical ailment which they are trying to bring your attention to. Alternatively, they may be suffering from separation anxiety. If this is the case, take them to the vets for a once over. 

To make matters even more complicated, dogs can help or whine when they are showing submissiveness, but this behaviour is usually followed by them flattening their bodies to the ground and their ears and tails should drop too. 

Less Common Dog Vocalisations

While you won’t hear every dog breed making these noises, they still have the potential and capacity to do so! You may even find yourself with an Instagram or YouTube famous dog if you happen to hear any of these noises from your dog! 


Yep, dogs can laugh, although it doesn’t sound like human laugher – not that all human laughter sounds the same. When it comes to dog laughter, it is something that you will see rather than hear. So, if you see your dog opening their mouth with their jaw stretched open and their tongue sticking out, this can be a form of laughing, even if it does look more like panting! 


Here’s where we will finally address the question of ‘Can Dogs Purr?’ the answer is yes – kind of. Just like dog laughter, they have their very own way of going about it, it’s much more of a rumbling noise, similar to what you could expect to hear from a motor boat engine. So, in many ways, it could be compared to a growl, but it is a much more contented sound. Just like growls, purring or ‘rumbling’ in dogs can mean one of two things; happiness or they’re giving you a warning that they would like some space. So, as with the growling, you’ll need to also read your dog’s body language to ensure you are interacting with your dog appropriately. It is also important to look at the environment around you to determine why the sound could be making those noises. 

Dog Vocalisations in Summary

If you thought people were bad when it comes to giving mixed signals, your dog can be even worse for it! Yet, it is with no malintent that your dog is giving you mixed signals. The best example of this is you mistaking play fighting with anger. The best way to decipher the vocalisation in the correct context is to look at their body language which will be most obvious by looking at their ears and tail.