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13 Reasons Why Your Dog Grunts And Groans (All The Time)

Why Does My Dog Grunt And Groan

Your dog grunts and groans. A lot. 

Now we all know that one person who grumbles about everything. And we avoid them like the plague.

But have you ever asked yourself whether your dog is doing the same thing?

Are they so displeased with the world? Do they need to frequently sound their disapproval?

You don’t have to wonder anymore.

Keep reading to discover:

  • 13 reasons why your dog grunts and groans.
  • If these strange sounds are considered normal.
  • Whether they’re expressing a good thing or not.
  • When you need to check in with their veterinarian.
  • And more…

Why does my dog grunt and groan?

Your dog grunts and groans because they could be a breed predisposed to it. They could also be expressing their contentment and excitement. Or they could be communicating a need for attention or a warning. Medical reasons such as illness and deformity often cause this vocalization of pain as well.

13 reasons why your dog grunts and groans (all the time)

#1: Breed

Your dog could be a brachycephalic breed. This term comes from 2 Greek words that translate to short and head.

The AKC simply puts it as “those with wide skulls and flat faces.” They include:

  • Pug.
  • Boxer.
  • Bulldog.
  • Shih Tzu.
  • Pekingese.
  • Chow Chow.
  • Boston Terrier.
  • French Bulldog.
  • Brussels Griffon.

These pooches suffer from something known as Brachycephalic Syndrome. This term is collectively given to 3 conditions: 

  • Stenotic nares.
  • Elongated soft palate.
  • Everted Laryngeal Saccules.

Let’s take a closer look at them.

Stenotic nares refer to the narrow nostrils that collapse inward when the dog inhales. It’s a result of a malformation. And it creates breathing difficulty for the dog. 

The soft palate is the roof structure at the back of the mouth. Brachycephalic breeds can sometimes have elongated soft palates that extend into their airways. This blockage affects the airflow to the lungs. 

The trachea (windpipe) and larynx (voicebox) are connected. In everted laryngeal saccules, the tissues in front of the vocal cords of the larynx get pulled into the trachea. And just as in the previous 2 conditions, breathing is impacted.

In terms of breed as a reason, this syndrome is why your dog grunts and groans all the time. It’s due to their anatomy. 

It’s generally considered “normal.” But there are cases where it’s worse in some dogs. And it can be life-threatening. 

So don’t take for granted that your dog is brachycephalic. The best course of action is to get them checked. Rule out all possible dangers. Then you can listen to them grunt and groan without worry.

“Uh. This might be awkward. But my dog isn’t brachycephalic.”

That’s alright. We’ve got owners of all breeds covered here.

If your dog isn’t brachycephalic, then some of the following reasons might apply. Starting with…

#2: Contentment

Humans are no stranger to grunting and groaning their satisfaction. Whether it’s during a massage or while eating a heavenly crème brulée. 

Dogs also grunt and groan in contentment. A mouthwatering grilled salmon. A good belly rub. And even a massage! 

If your pooch is pleasantly satisfied, they’ll grunt and groan. 

#3: Relaxing

It’s similar to the previous reason. But dogs grunt and groan while relaxing. 

You do it at the end of a long day. You plop onto the couch or ease yourself under the covers. And you inadvertently grunt or groan in comfort. 

The same can be said of your dog. You’ll notice this particularly when they get into bed as well. Or sometime during the day when they settle into a nice spot for a nap

It also happens when they wake up from a said nap. They grunt and groan as they stretch in relaxation. 

#4: Expression

Dogs can be very expressive creatures. Nobody can blame you if you imagined a Husky howling while reading that sentence.

But canine vocal expressions are varied. And grunting and groaning are certainly in the mix. 

I’m sure you’ve heard your dog grunt and groan (that’s why you’re reading this article, right?). You’ve probably even heard them sigh. 

There’s really no telling how many of our human idiosyncrasies dogs can pick up. But being vocally expressive in these specific ways is certainly a mutual thing. 

As mentioned, dogs are known to grunt and groan when they’re satisfied or relaxing. But they could do so in far more ways than we’d expect. 

#5: Attention

Dogs love attention. And they have many methods up their sleeve to achieve it. Grunting and groaning are among them.

It’s hard to ignore a dog that grunts and groans at you. You need a lot of patience and noise-canceling headphones. These are not readily available for every dog parent. 

So we have to give them the attention they’re raising a ruckus for. 

How very effective.

Read also: 11 Weird Reasons Why Your Dog Wraps His Paws Around You

#6: Excitement 

Your Dog Grunts And Groans All The Time Due To Excitement

Your dog may grunt and groan in excitement.

It doesn’t seem plausible but it’s true. The grunting, especially.

Grunting is known as “reverse sneezing” and that’s precisely what it is. 

A regular sneeze happens when air is sharply forced out of the nose.

In reverse sneezing, the air goes in the opposite direction – into the nose.

In your dog’s excitement, their blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate become elevated.

The effect on respiration or breathing can result in grunting.

You might also be interested in: 13 Safe Tips To Calm A Sexually Excited Dog (How-To)

#7: Warning 

“I’m going to count to three…”

That’s what mothers always say. But dogs don’t count to three. Instead, they bark, growl, snarl, or – you saw it coming – grunt and groan.

They’ll always give a warning.

Unless a dog has a serious behavioral issue, they’re not going to just walk up to someone and bite them. 

In fact, they warn off people precisely so they won’t have to bite. Biting is a last resort. It’s reserved for mailmen intruders and persistent sinister characters. 

If your dog is grunting and groaning, they might be giving off a warning. It’s best to heed it.

#8: Aggression

Bulldogs don’t give the nicest impressions. Partly because of their appearance. And partly because of the grunting and groaning. It can all seem quite intimidating. 

To some extent, Tom and Jerry might also be to blame.

But bulldogs are not all that bad. In fact, they’re known to have a gentle nature and make great companion dogs. 

The negative perception of grunting and groaning is not limited to bulldogs, though. It applies to dogs in general. And yes, it can be a manifestation of aggression.

If your grunting and groaning dog doesn’t seem very gentle nature-ish, step back. 

Check out: My Dog Is Aggressive Towards My Husband: 7 Reasons + 3 Tips

#9: Stop

Everyone with an older sibling can relate to this. 

Roughhousing and tickling. It’s all fun and games until you’re laughing so hard, you can’t breathe. You beg your big brother or sister to stop. But it seems like an eternity before they do. 

For whatever reason, your dog’s grunting and groaning could be sending the same plea. 

“Enough, Mom! Stop it, please!”

Maybe like poor, little tickled you, they’re having a hard time breathing. Or that area you’re petting hurts. Or they just want to do something else.

It’s tricky to figure this out. Especially since grunting and groaning can mean something positive too. 

Which is it? “Yes, Hooman! Right there. Keep at it!” or “Ow! Don’t do that!”

But nobody knows your dog better than you do. So be observant. Learn to pick up on their cues and determine what they really mean. 

#10: Pain

Your dog is not William Wallace (the Mel Gibson version, anyway). They’re not going to stay silent while they’re drawn and quartered then shout only one very iconic word. 

Your dog will grunt and groan when they’re in pain. And they could do it incessantly. 

Chances are, their fur mom or fur dad are the same way. Most of us are. Our pain escapes our voice boxes in the form of grunts and groans.

If you suspect your dog is in pain but don’t know why, see a vet right away. The sooner they’re properly examined, the better. 

#11: Deformity

Let’s get more specific about pain.

Many dogs suffer from conditions relating to the bone. Two disorders, in particular, are canine hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis.

According to a study, canine hip dysplasia affects more than 50% of domesticated dogs. And most of them afflicted with this condition are purebreds. 

Osteoarthritis, according to VCA, affects 20% of all dogs. 

As you would imagine, these conditions can severely impact canines’ lives. They’re the animals with boundless energy who fill our hearts. 

Such a diagnosis would mean pain for a dog. Immense pain. They would no longer be able to run about like they used to. And what’s life for a dog that can’t dart to and fro? 

Misery. Grunting and groaning.

#12: Illness

Nobody likes being ill.

Unless maybe they didn’t do their homework and want to stay home.

But for the most part, it goes without saying.

Illness brings with it a lot of discomforts.

And discomfort is expressed through grunting, groaning, and occasionally some expletives.

But your dog doesn’t know that last part. (Or do they?)

One likely reason why your dog grunts and groans is illness. Especially if it’s not something they normally do. 

If your dog wakes up one day and starts grunting and groaning, they could be sick. And you know what’s next: see a vet.

#13: Sleep talking

Dogs can be strange sleepers. They’ll twitch and kick. Sometimes they’ll roll onto their backs. And they’ll carry on sleeping with their legs up in the air. 

But more than this, they also sleep talk. Or sleep grunt/groan, if you prefer. And it can be worse when they’re having nightmares.

According to Dr. Stanley Coren, a professor emeritus of psychology, dogs do dream. And they go through the same stages of sleep as humans. Their dream patterns are quite identical as well.

Humans dream about everyday things. Research shows it’s the same with dogs. They dream about what they lived through in their waking moments. Or as Dr. Coren puts it, “dogs dream doggy things.”

My friend’s puppy, Valkyrie, had a fear of bicycles until she was 3 months old. She wouldn’t blink when motorcycles vroomed past her. But for some reason, bicycles spooked her. And she’d panic whenever one came too close for comfort.

Her fur mom observed that she would have nightmares if she saw a bike during the day. It happened without fail. 

See a bike in the daytime. Twitch, kick, grunt, and groan while asleep in the night.

It’s not hard to imagine what images must have played through her mind. It probably looked something like the Tour de France. And with a slow and creepy version of Queen’s Bicycle Race playing in the background.

If your pooch grunts and groans in their sleep, they could be having nightmares too. But this “sleep talking” is not limited to bad dreams. It can also happen during the good ones.

So you really can’t catch a break. Your dog will grunt and groan all the time

People also ask:

Why does my dog grunt and groan when I pet him? 

Your dog grunts and groans when you pet him because he either feels contentment or pain. That’s why it’s vital that you determine which of the two it is. 

Don’t just brush it off. Go back and read reasons #10, #11, and #12 before you credit it to your masterful belly rubbing. 

Should I be worried when my dog grunts and groans?

There are cases where you should be worried when your dog grunts and groans. 

They do it for a variety of reasons. Some of them indicate a good thing. But others point to serious medical conditions. 

Always be proactive when dealing with your dog’s health. See a vet and determine the cause.