Our Dogs World 101

The Ultimate Guide To Why Dogs Growl (14 Questions Answered On Why Dogs Growl)

Do you ever wonder why dogs growl? You’re not alone. In fact, there are a lot of people who want to know why their furry friend does this weird behavior. 

No need to worry though, because we’ve got the answers for you. In this ultimate guide to why dogs growl, we’ll answer 14 common questions about this canine behavior. 

So, whether you’re just curious or are experiencing problems with your own dog’s growling, read on for all the info you need!

Is It OK For Your Dog To Growl At You?

Dogs growl for many different reasons. Some dogs may growl out of fear or aggression, while others may do it simply to encourage play. It is important to understand the different types of growls so as you can interpret what they mean.

Some common reasons why dogs growl include:

  • Fear: Dogs may growl when they are afraid of something. This could be a person, another animal, or even a loud noise.
  • Aggression: Dogs may also growl when they are feeling aggressive. This can be towards another animal or person.
  • Playfulness: Some dogs may growl simply because they are enjoying playtime. This is usually done in a friendly manner and is not meant to be aggressive.

If your dog is growling at you, it is important to try to understand why. If you are unsure, it is always best to consult with a professional such as a vet or animal behaviorist. They will be able to help you determine the cause of the growling and provide you with guidance on how to best deal with it.

What Does A Low Growl From A Dog Mean?

The low growl with a loose and relaxed body usually means your dog is content and happy, often referred to as a “content growl.” This type of growl is most common when dogs are playing with each other or their human family members. Your dog may emit this type of growl when you pet them, brush them, or even when they’re being fed their favorite food.

Why Dogs Growl - aggressive shetland sheepdog tried to bite in hands

I tend to think it is their way of trying to talk to us and show us how much they love us. The low growl is also a sign of submission in many cases. For example, if two dogs are playing and one starts to get too rough, the other may emit a low growl to signal that it wants to back off or take it easy.

Whatever the case may be, a low growl from your dog is usually nothing to worry about and is most likely a sign of contentment, happiness, or submission.

How Do You Respond When A Dog Growls?

Dogs growl for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s a sign of aggression, but other times it may just be a way to communicate that they’re feeling uncomfortable or threatened.

If you’re ever in the situation where a dog is growling at you, it’s important not to force the issue. Don’t try to pet the dog or make it do something it doesn’t want to do. Instead, back away slowly and give the dog some space.

Aggressive dog shows dangerous teeth. German sheperd attack head

If the growling is accompanied by other aggressive behaviors, such as baring teeth or snapping, and it is your own dog then it’s best to consult with a professional trainer or chat with us here at Our Dogs World 101 to help you assess the situation and create a plan for dealing with it.

Always try to avoid eye contact with a dog that is growling, as this can be seen as a challenge.

In most cases, though, a growl is simply a dog’s way of saying “I’m not comfortable with this.” If you can respect that and give the dog some space, the growling will likely stop.

Why Does My Dog Growl At Me?

It’s natural for dogs to growl when they feel threatened or fearful. However, sometimes dog owners misinterpret this behavior and think their dog is being aggressive. If your dog is growling at you, it’s important to try to understand why before taking any action.

There are a few reasons why your dog might growl at you:

  • Your dog is trying to warn you that they feel threatened or uncomfortable. This is usually followed by a warning bark or snap.
  • Your dog is in pain and is growling as a way to communicate that they are hurting.
  • Your dog is playing and wants you to join in on the fun! Growling during play is often accompanied by a wagging tail and happy body language.

If you’re not sure why your dog is growling at you, the best thing to do is to consult with a professional trainer or us. They will be able to help you identify the root of the problem and come up with a plan to address it.

Remember growling is an important form of canine communication, and shouldn’t necessarily be interpreted as aggression. If you can understand why your dog is growling, you’ll be able to better address the underlying cause and stop the behavior.

Does A Dog Growling Always Mean Anger?

As I mentioned previously in this article, a dogs growl doesnt always mean they are angry. There are several reasons why your dog may be growling.

  • Your dog may be trying to communicate that they are feeling scared or threatened.
  • They may also be growling to show their dominance or assert their dominance over another person or animal.
  • If you have a puppy, they may simply be growling because they are playing.
Two dogs show their teeth as they play in the front yard

While a dogs growl doesnt always indicate anger, it is important to take note of the context and situation in which the growling is occurring. If your dog is growling at another person or animal, it could be a sign of aggression. If this is the case, you should consult with a professional trainer or behaviorist to help you address the issue. If this is the case shoot us an email and I will be happy to help out.

In some cases, growling can also be a sign of a medical condition. If your dog is growling and seems to be in pain, it is important to take them to the vet for an examination.

So, while a dog growling doesnt always mean they are angry, it is important to pay attention to the context and situation to determine what the growl means.

Do Dogs Ever Growl When They Are Happy?

Yes and its called pleasure growling. Its a sign of contentment, relaxation and often accompanies play. If you have ever been lucky enough to experience this phenomenon yourself, youll know that its a very special sound that only happens when your dog is feeling really good.

"A group of dogs play in the water at a lake, trying to get the ball"

Pleasure growling usually happens during two scenarios; when your dog is being petted and when they are playing. It can also happen when they are eating something they really enjoy or when they are about to fall asleep.

So next time your dog growls at you, dont be alarmed! Its just their way of telling you that theyre happy.

Just make sure that you understand the difference between pleasure growling and aggressive growling, as the latter can be a sign of serious problems.

What Dog Breed Growls The Most?

The breed of dog that growls the most is the Rottweiler. Rottweilers were originally bred to be guard dogs, and their deep, throaty growls are part of what make them good at this job. However, all dogs can and do growl from time to time. Growling is actually a very normal part of canine communication.

Dogs growl for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, they growl to show their displeasure with something. For example, a dog may growl when he is being scolded or when he doesn’t want to give up his toy. Other times, dogs growl as a way to warn others to stay away. A dog may growl when someone approaches his food bowl or when a stranger comes into his home.

Large fierce dog approaching at speed

Growling can also be a sign of fear or anxiety. A dog who is growling may be afraid of being hurt or may be feeling threatened in some way. If you think your dog is growling out of fear, it’s important to consult with a professional trainer or behaviorist to help him overcome his fears.

In some cases, dogs growl because they are in pain. If your dog is growling and seems to be in distress, it’s important to take him to the vet right away to rule out any medical causes.

Whether it’s due to fear, anxiety, or aggression, growling is a dog’s way of communicating that he is feeling uncomfortable or threatened. If your dog is growling, it’s important to take the time to figure out why he is doing it so that you can help him feel more comfortable and safe.

What Does It Mean When A Dog Growls But Wags Its Tail?

There are a few different reasons why dogs growl. A confident dog may growl to warn you away from something he’s guarding, like his food bowl or toys. A scared dog may growl to try and get you to back off and leave him alone. 

Sometimes, dogs will just growl for no apparent reason – they may be feeling pain, or they may be trying to communicate something to you that you don’t understand. 

But in general, a dog that is growling and wagging its tail is trying to send a mixed message – he’s both happy and excited to see you, but also a little bit nervous or afraid.

If your dog is growling with a stiff tail wagging in a side to side motion, this is usually a sign that he’s feeling confident and in control. He may be growling to warn you away from something he considers to be his, like his food bowl or toys. If you see this behavior, the best thing to do is to respect your dog’s space and give him what he wants – back off and leave him alone.

Large dog with two small friends on a seaside promenade.

If your dog is growling with a high-pitched yelp and his tail is tucked between his legs, this is usually a sign that he’s scared or in pain. He may be trying to get you to back off and leave him alone. 

If you see this behavior, the best thing to do is to consult with your veterinarian to see if there is any medical reason for your dog’s behavior.

If your dog has a relaxed loose body and his tail is wagging in a circular motion, this is usually a sign that he’s happy and excited to see you. 

He may be trying to communicate something to you, but you don’t understand what he’s trying to say. The best thing to do in this case is to try and figure out what your dog wants, and respond accordingly.

What Are The Different Types Of Dog Growls?

If only dogs could talk, or what if they actually could and all we need to do is learn their language. Dogs communicate with us through their body language, which includes growling. Growling is one form of communication that dogs use to let us know how they are feeling. Just like people, dogs growl for different reasons.

There are 5 different types of dog growls: play growling, aggressive growling, pleasure seeking growl, warning growl, and frustration growl.

1. Play Growling

This is the most common type of growling that dogs do. It usually happens during playtime with their favorite human or canine companion. The dog is feeling happy and content, and the growling is their way of playing along. They might even add a wagging tail and some happy body language into the mix.

2. Aggressive Growling

This type of growling is usually a warning sign that the dog is feeling threatened or angry. If you hear this type of growl, it’s best to back off and give the dog some space. Continuing to approach them could result in them biting or attacking.

3. Pleasure Seeking Growl

Also known as “solicitation growling,” this happens when a dog wants something from you, whether it’s food, attention, or to play. They might start out with a low growl and then work their way up to a louder one if they don’t get what they want.

4. Warning Growl

This is a growl that dogs use to warn others to stay away. It’s often heard when a dog is guarding their food or toys and doesn’t want to share. They might also use this growl to protect their owner or family member from someone they view as a threat.

5. Frustration Growl

This type of growl usually happens when a dog is trying to communicate their frustration with a situation. For example, they might be on a leash and want to go in a different direction, or they might be in their crate and want to be let out. Whatever the case may be, the dog is feeling frustrated and is trying to let you know.

Knowing the different types of growls that dogs use can help you better understand what they’re trying to communicate. The next time you hear your dog growling, take a step back and try to determine what type of growl it is. Once you know that, you’ll be one step closer to understanding your furry friend.

Why Did My Dog Growl At A Random Person?

It is a warning growl that may indicate your dog is feeling threatened or uncomfortable. If you see your dog growling at someone, it’s important to stay calm and assess the situation. 

If the person is a stranger, try to keep your dog calm and move them away from the person. If you know the person, you can try to defuse the situation by asking them to back off or move away. 

Remember, growling is your dog’s way of communicating their fear or discomfort, so don’t punish them for it. Instead, try to understand why they’re feeling that way and see if you can resolve the issue.

Angry black Pomeranian dog sitting in woman's lap, showing teeth and barking as a warning

Dogs are very intuitive creatures and can often sense when someone is feeling off, even if we can’t. If your dog growls at a random person, it’s likely because they picked up on something that you didn’t. 

Maybe the person was standing too close for comfort, or maybe they were making sudden movements that scared your dog. It’s important to pay attention to your dog’s body language and cues so you can avoid situations that make them feel uncomfortable. 

If you’re not sure what’s causing your dog to growl, you can always ask a professional trainer or behaviorist here at Our Dogs World 101 for help.

Growling is a totally normal behavior for dogs, but it can be worrisome if you don’t know why it’s happening. If your dog is growling at random people, try to stay calm and assess the situation.

I have always lived by the mantra that if my dogs trusts someone then so do I.

Why Does My Dog Growl When I Cuddle Or Hug Them?

Think what a cuddle or a hug is for a minute. It is basically a human emotion that to a dog feels more like a restraint. 

If you have ever had someone come up and bear hug you, or hold you too tight for too long, it can feel overwhelming and even a little scary. Now imagine if that happened every time someone tried to show you affection. It would probably start to feel really uncomfortable after a while.

Man with Dog Both Snarling Teeth and Growling

That’s how your dog feels when you try to cuddle or hug them. To a dog, being restrained in that way is not natural and can even be threatening. That’s why they may growl when you try to do it.

It’s not that your dog doesn’t love you, it’s just that they don’t understand this human custom of showing affection in that way. 

If you really want to show your dog some love, try giving them a good petting or a treat instead. They’ll appreciate it much more.

Do Dogs Growl When They Meet?

I have always believed that dogs are the true masters of communication with both their bodies and their voice (bark, growl, whine etc) and will often use these signals to try and tell us something. 

I think that the growl is one of the most misunderstood sounds that a dog can make because so often we interpret it as aggression when in reality, it can be used for a whole host of different reasons.

So, why do dogs growl at each other when they meet? Well, there can be many reasons but most often it is simply because they are trying to communicate something. 

It could be that they are feeling uncomfortable or threatened in some way, or that they are just trying to let the other dog know that they are there and not to come any closer.

two purebred Belgian Shepherds aggressive in a field

Whatever the reason, it is important to remember that growling is not always a sign of aggression and should not be treated as such. 

If you have two dogs that are growling at each other, the best thing to do is to try and see what the cause is and then address it accordingly. 

If you can’t figure it out, or if the growling escalates, then it might be best to consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist.

So, the next time you see two dogs growling at each other, take a step back and try to figure out what they are trying to say. It might just save you from a bite!

Why Is My Dog Suddenly Growling And Snapping At Me?

One possibility is that your dog is feeling ill or in pain. If your dog is growling when you touch them in a certain area, it may be because they’re sore there. 

It’s also possible that your dog is suffering from an illness or injury that’s causing them pain and making them act out of character. If you think this might be the case, take your dog to the vet for an evaluation.

Another possibility is that your dog is feeling stressed or anxious. Dogs can get anxious for a variety of reasons, such as if there’s been a change in their routine, they’re not getting enough exercise, or they’re picking up on our own stress levels. 

If you think your dog’s growling may be due to anxiety, try to identify what’s causing the stress and see if you can reduce it. For example, if your dog is growling because they’re not getting enough exercise, make sure to take them on more walks and play sessions.

It’s also possible that your dog is simply trying to assert themselves as the pack leader. This is more likely to be the case if your dog starts growling after you’ve introduced a new pet or baby into the family, as they may feel like they need to protect their territory. 

In this case, it’s important to be consistent with your rules and boundaries, and make sure that everyone in the family is clear on who the pack leader is.

If your dog is growling for any of these reasons, it’s important to take action to address the problem. Ignoring the growling or trying to punish your dog will only make the problem worse. 

If you’re not sure what’s causing your dog’s growling, send us a message and we will be able to help.

Why Does My Dog Growl At Night At Nothing?

Remember earlier how I said that a dogs perception is far better than ours, well that also goes for their senses.

So, just because we cant see or smell something in the dark of night doesnt mean that our dog cant.

The reason your dog is growling could be because they are picking up on something that we arent even aware of.

There could be an animal outside making noise or perhaps something just smells different to them and it has set off their alarm bells.

It is also worth noting that some dogs will growl in their sleep if they are having a bad dream.

If you think this may be the case then try gently waking your dog up and see if the growling stops.

If your dog is growling for no apparent reason then it might be worth taking them to the vet for a check-up, just to rule out any underlying health issues.

So, in conclusion, there are a number of reasons why your dog might be growling at night and it is important to try and figure out which one it is. Only then can you take the necessary steps to stop it from happening.

The Ultimate Guide To Why Dogs Growl Summary

We know it can be daunting when trying to decipher what your furry friend is trying to say, but don’t worry, we’re here to help. 

All you have to do is leave your comments below or send us an email and one of our experts will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about dog growls and how to deal with them. 

In the meantime, keep up the good work training your pup and remember – prevention is always the best medicine!

Remember… Owning a dog should be FUN, not a chore! 

My name is Mark and I currently live in Australia. I am passionate about educating Doggie parents and helping you to make the best possible decisions to help your dog live a long, happy and healthy life.

As a Dog trainer & behaviorist I have always used The Dog Solution methods with a 100% success rate.
Feel free to contact us, and stay tuned for updates and informative posts on dog care, training, diet, and much more!

“Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen” – Orhan Pamuk

Mark & Saffron – Founders of Our Dogs World 101

10 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide To Why Dogs Growl (14 Questions Answered On Why Dogs Growl)”

  1. What a great post! As a dog lover and dog owner (well, former dog owner, as my 2 dogs died), I appreciate you breaking down why dogs growl. I intuitively knew and know that my dogs growl when they feel threatened. Or when they hear something that feels threatening their domain. But I like that you make the distinctions between the growls.  I didn’t know there is play growling, aggressive growling, pleasure seeking growling, warning growl and frustration growl. Thanks for the distinctions and their meaning.

    1. Hey Shalisha,

      A lot of people don’t realize that there are different types of growls, and I only learned this when I was doing my dog behavioral certification a few years back.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Mark

  2. Wow, this is a great post. I often wonder why dogs growl. Being a dog owner and a dog lover, this information is so important in understanding this behavior. 

    Even though my dog rarely growled, I have seen some dog growled but never had any idea why? Your post is a valuable guide in trying to understand why dogs growl.

  3. Once again, thank you so much for the informative article, and this one is over why dogs growl, and some of the questions that are common with this issue. One thing that I did not realize is that dogs growl sometimes, when they are happy.  I always thought it was out of fear or anger or anxiety.

    1. You’re not alone Jessie, so many of my clients think exactly the same thing, but yes there are friendly and playful growls in a dog’s repertoire! 🙂

      Thanks for sharing.

      Mark

  4. There is definitely a difference between a happy growl and I mean business growl. Dogs definitely use this a warning before they want to attack. We had to rehome our collie as she didn’t like small children and made it very clear by showing her teeth, raising her hair in her back and trying to hide, we knew at this moment that it was unsafe to have her whilst we wanted a baby. Such a shame as she loved adults but just didn’t like children. My staffy however likes to growl when we play tug of war and it’s a completely different type of grown and it playful. A great post to make people aware and also the fact that dogs can only communicate this way and with body language as they don’t speak our language!! 
    cheers for the insight! 

  5. Thanks for this very interesting and informative post.

    A dog growling to express its pleasure can be entertaining.  I had a dog that used to growl at what seemed to be nothing other than pleasure.  His growling was quite amusing.  He was ready for playtime and he let us know!

    But, when approaching or even walking past a property with a growling dog behind the fence, that can be a scary event.  On occasions such as that, I have considered it a threat to me.  However, as you have explained, aggressive growling means that the dog itself is feeling threatened.  So I am very grateful to have learned that and will not criticise dogs should there be future experiences. I usually keep criticism of dogs to myself as I do love and respect them.

    1. Not only threatened Valerie, but also protection of their pack (family).
      A lot of people don’t realize that dogs are natural protectors and extremely intuitive, so to them someone walking past could also be seen as a danger and this is their way of warding off that danger/threat.

      Thanks for sharing, Valerie.

      Mark

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