BehaviorQuirky BehaviorsWhy Does My Dog Purr? Technically They Don't

Why Does My Dog Purr? Technically They Don’t

Dogs do not actually purr like cats do, but if it sounds like your dog is purring, it’s really just a soft growl. This purring sound usually happens when a dog is excited, but can also occur when they are sad or anxious.

If your dog is genuinely purring, you should get them booked on the tonight show and make your fortune! Even though dogs do not technically purr, there are many reasons they may make little grumble sounds akin to a feline.

The most significant difference between a cat’s purr and a dogs soft growl is the timing. Cats will typically purr when they are content and relaxed. When a dog is content and relaxed, they’ll stay silent. Instead, dogs express the soft growl for a variety of reasons, including excitement and discontent.

Even though dogs don’t purr in the same way cats do, one thing is certain…it sure is cute when they make that purring sound!

Below, we will go over the most common reasons a dog would make the sound of a purr.


The sound of your pup when he is excited is one of the cutest sounds in the world. The whimper actually sounds like pure, unconditional love and fun. As dog owners, it is one of the best sounds you’ll hear all day. Here are five reasons your dog might make a purring sound when excited.

Supper Time!

Dogs love to eat! There’s probably nothing that gets them more excited than when they watch you fill up their food bowl. There’s nothing wrong with your dog making whimpers when you’re about to feed them their food, but if your dog begins whimpering and begging when you and your family sit down to eat, that’s a bad habit that should end.

To prevent them from whimpering while the family eats, do not feed them while at the table. Some dog owners have been known to place their dogs in a crate during supper until they are a little older.

Play Time

If dinner time is considered a dog’s favorite part of the day, playtime is a close second! Especially when you bring them a new toy, or get on the ground and roll around with them.  One of the most adorable things you’ll ever watch is their excitement when chasing down their new toy to bring to you and then making that soft growl when waiting for you to throw the toy.

Buddy Time

The introduction of a new dog to the mix can always be a little intimidating. While some dogs tend to get a bit aggressive, most dogs will get very excited and immediately jump into playtime.

Dogs feed off each other’s energy, so when one dog makes a purr-like sound, the other dog might join in and try to replicate that sound.


There is not a dog on the planet that doesn’t get excited when their human comes home. The sound of the car in the driveway, footsteps on the porch, or the greeting at the door are all sounds that make your dog the happiest in the world. Walking in the door after a long day at work to be happily greeted by my dog is, without a doubt, one of the best parts of my day.

Backyard Hunting

A dog’s natural instinct is to try and hunt down its supper. Sometimes it’s a rabbit, a squirrel, a bee, or the dreaded porcupine. While it may make the dog happy to get back to its roots, it is best to protect your dog from this behavior and keep a tight hold of the leash.

Trigger Words

Dogs associate certain words with a good time. They know certain words either mean they get to play, run around, explore, or eat. These words include: Out, play, walk, treat. These are all words that will get your fired up. When you say them, you might hear that soft growl from your pup.


The second reason dogs make a purr-like sound is when they are sad. Yes, your dog can get sad. While this is the most disconcerting whimper your dog will make, we all have to deal with it. Here are a few things that can make your dog whimper when sad.

Time To Go

We all have to leave the house. Your dog learns your rituals. When he sees you heading for your sneakers and not his leash, he knows you are about to go bye-bye and will more than likely begin his pleading for you to stay, usually in the form of a little growl, yelp, or bark.

Not Being With The Family

If you have an outdoor dog who can see the family inside, they want to join in on the fun! If everyone is outside and you’ve locked your dog inside, they’re going to want out to enjoy time with the family. Bottom line, dogs get sad when they can’t be with their family members.

Potty Time

Your dog will get moody and sad if you haven’t let him out for a while. Pay attention to his tones, and you will learn when he needs to go outside for a bathroom break.


Meal Time

When you forget to feed your dog, they’re going to remind you that it’s supper time! When your dog is hungry, and you’ve been a little too busy to watch the clock, your dog is going to remind you.

Water Break

Your dog’s water bowl needs to be at least half full and clean at all times. Forgetting to take care of this little detail will result in a gloomy doggy who won’t let you live it down. Get on a schedule of checking their water bowl. When coming back from taking your dog out for a potty break is a perfect time to check his water bowl and clean it if need be. It’s never good to forget to feed your dog, but it’s even worse if you forget to fill up the water bowl.


Anxiety is a sure-fire way to get a dog whimpering. While the tone is a little different from an excited whimper, it’s unmistakeable. Here are some of the reasons a dog will whimper due to anxiety.

New People!

Some dogs revert right back to their puppy phase when they come across a new person. The new sight, smell, and mannerisms of the stranger will likely cause your dog to begin making that little whimper. This is usually out of excitement, but can also be out of fear and anxiety.

Strange Sounds

We all know this one. The neighbor next door is in his mid-life crisis and went out and got a motorcycle. While it may be fun for him, your dog will take some getting used to the strange new rumble. Dogs can also have anxiety from loud objects such as the dishwasher, vacuum, and even radio.


Ahh, yes. The 4th of July. Most dog owner’s biggest nightmare. For a human, the 4th of July is a magical time, but for dogs, the random booms and flashes can frighten them.

Oh No, Hunting Season

If you are in a rural area, you are familiar with the crack of a rifle in the fall months. This activity may help put food on the table for some, but for dogs that have not been familiarized with guns, this can be a terrifying time.

Thunder Storms

While some people really love the drone of a good thunderstorm (raising my hand on this one), they can be very alarming to your pet. Dogs don’t understand storms. They just know the outside is making loud noises and flashes of lightning…it can be a terrifying experience if you don’t know what’s going on.


The number one reason people get dogs is for companionship. Well, that works both ways. Dogs love their masters, and they can become very anxious without the comfort of their humans.

Solutions For Anxiety

  • Try to get your dog accustomed to new people as a puppy. This will pay off later in life. If your dog is older, try exposing them to people regularly to help them get over the anxiety.
  • The strange sounds of the city can’t be avoided. But sometimes it’s best to get your dog out to the country and back to its roots for some calming nature.
  • Try turning the radio or tv up a little louder during the 4th and also during hunting season. This may take some of the outside sounds away.
  • Storms are a particularly hard challenge. Thunder can vibrate a whole house. During a storm, it is best to comfort your dog by holding them.
  • When you leave the house, try putting some talk radio on or a television program. The sound of a human voice can be comforting to man’s best friend.
  • Try a calming vest or calming gummies for your best friend.

Dog’s Don’t Purr, But They Do Whimper

As you can see, there are many reasons a dog whimpers. When it’s a soft whimper, it sounds a lot like a purr. The good news is it’s usually easy to tell why your dog is whimpering. If they’re standing next to their food or water bowl, they want to eat or drink. If they’re outside, they want in. If you’re playing with them, they’re having fun. Dog’s sure are great communicators, aren’t they?!

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