Bark (utterance)


A bark is a sound most commonly produced by
dog The dog or domestic dog (''Canis familiaris'' or ''Canis lupus familiaris'') is a Domestication, domesticated descendant of the wolf which is characterized by an upturning tail. The dog Origin of the domestic dog, derived from an Pleistocene ...

s. Other animals that make this noise include
wolves The wolf (''Canis lupus''), also known as the gray wolf or grey wolf, is a large canine native to Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all of Europe and Asia. Primarily in the Northern Hemisphere, N ...

coyote The coyote (''Canis latrans'') is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the lar ...

seals Seals may refer to: * Pinniped, a diverse group of semi-aquatic marine mammals, many of which are commonly called seals, particularly: ** Earless seal, or "true seal" ** Fur seal * Seal (emblem), a device to impress an emblem, used as a means of a ...
foxes Foxes are small to medium-sized, omnivorous mammals belonging to several genera of the family Canidae. They have a flattened skull, upright triangular ears, a pointed, slightly upturned snout, and a long bushy tail (or ''brush''). Twelve spec ...

, and
quoll Quolls (; genus ''Dasyurus'') are carnivorous A carnivore , meaning "meat Meat is animal flesh that is eaten as food. Humans have hunted and killed animals for meat since prehistoric times. The advent of civilization allowed the dome ...
s. Woof is the most common
onomatopoeia Onomatopoeia (also onomatopeia in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Cur ...

in the
English language English is a of the , originally spoken by the inhabitants of . It is named after the , one of the ancient that migrated from , a peninsula on the (not to be confused with ), to the area of later named after them: . Living languages mos ...

English language
for this sound, especially for large dogs. "Bark" is also a verb that describes the sharp explosive cry of certain animals.

In dogs

Dog barking is distinct from wolf barking. Wolf barks represent only 2.4% of all wolf vocalizations and are described as "rare" occurrences. According to Schassburger, wolves bark only in warning, defense, and protest. In contrast, dogs bark in a wide variety of social situations, with acoustic communication in dogs being described as
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. Additionally, while wolf barks tend to be brief and isolated, adult dogs bark in long, rhythmic stanzas. Dogs have been known to bark for hours on end. While a distinct reason for the difference is unknown, a strong hypothesis is that the vocal communication of dogs developed due to their
domestication Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictable supply of resources from that seco ...
. As evidenced by the farm-fox experiment, the process of domestication alters a breed in more ways than just tameness. Domesticated breeds show vast physical differences from their wild counterparts, notably an evolution that suggests
neoteny Neoteny (), also called juvenilization,Montagu, A. (1989). Growing Young. Bergin & Garvey: CT. is the delaying or slowing of the Physiology, physiological (or Somatic (biology), somatic) development of an organism, typically an animal. Neoteny is f ...

, or the retention of juvenile characteristics in adults. Adult dogs have, for example, large heads, floppy ears, and shortened snouts – all characteristics seen in wolf puppies. The behavior, too, of adult dogs shows
puppy A puppy is a juvenile dog The domestic dog (''Canis familiaris'' or ''Canis lupus familiaris'') is a domesticated form of wolf. The dog descended from an ancient, extinct wolf, with the modern grey wolf being the dog's nearest livin ...

-like characteristics: dogs are submissive, they whine, and they frequently bark. The experiment illustrates how selecting for one trait (in this case, tameness) can create profound by-products, both physical and behavioral. The frequency of barking in dogs in relation to wolves could also be the product of the very different social environment of dogs. Dogs live in extraordinarily close range with humans, in many societies kept solely as
companion animals A pet is an animal kept primarily for company, protection or entertainment. Pet or PET may also refer to: People * Petula Clark (born 1932), English singer, actress and composer * Pierre Elliott Trudeau (1919–2000), nicknamed PET, former Pri ...
. From a very young age, humans tend to be one of a dog's primary social contacts. This captive environment presents very different stimuli than would be found by wolves in the wild. While wolves have vast territories, dogs do not. The boundaries of a captive dog's territory will be visited frequently by intruders, thus triggering the bark response as a warning. Additionally, dogs densely populate urban areas, allowing more opportunity to meet new dogs and be social. For example, it is possible that kenneled dogs may have increased barking due to a desire to facilitate social behavior. Dogs' close relationship with humans also renders dogs reliant on humans, even for basic needs. Barking is a way to attract attention, and the behavior is continued by the positive response exhibited by the owners (e.g., if a dog barks to get food and the owner feeds it, the dog is being conditioned to continue said behavior).


Barking in domestic dogs is a controversial topic. While barking is suggested to be "non-communicative," data suggests that it may well be a means of expression that became increasingly sophisticated during domestication. Due to the lack of consensus over whether or not dogs actually communicate using their barks, not much work has been done on categorizing the different types of barking in dogs. That which has been done has been criticized by Feddersen-Petersen as "lackobjectivity." Using
sonograph A spectrogram is a visual representation of the spectral density, spectrum of frequencies of a signal as it varies with time. When applied to an audio signal, spectrograms are sometimes called sonographs, voiceprints, or voicegrams. When the ...

ic methods, Feddersen-Petersen identified several distinct types of barks, then analyzed them for meanings, functions, and emotions. He separated dog barks into subgroups based on said sonographic data: Not all breeds demonstrated every subgroup of barking. Instead, significant variance in vocalization was found between different breeds. Poodles showed the least of all barking subunits. Additionally, barking in wolves was observed as notably less diverse. For example, wolf barks are rarely harmonic, tending instead to be noisy. There is some evidence that humans can determine the suspected emotions of dogs while listening to barks emitted during specific situations. Humans scored the emotions of dogs performing these barks very similarly and in ways that made sense according to the situation at hand. In one example, when subjects were played a recording of a dog tied alone to a tree, a situation in which one could reasonably infer that the dog would be distressed, the human listeners tended to rank the bark as having a high level of despair. It has been suggested that this may be evidence for the idea that dog barks have evolved to be a form of communication with humans specifically, since humans can so readily determine a dog's needs by simply listening to their vocalizations. Further studies have found that the
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structure of a bark "
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considerably with context." These studies suggest that barks are more than just random sounds, and indeed hold some sort of communicative purpose.

As nuisance

Bark control

Nuisance-barking dogs sound off for no particular reason. "Many dogs bark when they hear other dogs barking," says Katherine A. Houpt, V.M.D., PhD, director of the Cornell
Animal Behavior Ethology is the scientific Science (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known ...
Clinic. Nuisance, inappropriate, or excessive barking comprises between 13 and 35 percent of behavior-problem complaints by dog owners, Houpt noted. The deliver an irritating shock of adjustable intensity when a vibration sensor in the collar detects barking. The citronella collar releases a spray of citronella when a microphone in the collar senses barking. For the eight dogs that wore both types of collars (one shepherd mix did not complete the study), all owners found the citronella collar to be effective in reducing or stopping nuisance barking and most preferred the fragrance spray. Four out of eight owners said electric shocks had no effect on their dogs—they kept on barking. The citronella collars had problems, Juarbe-D'az noted. One dog owner complained that citronella oil stained the upholstery when the dog, fond of lying about on upholstery, barked. "One owner thought the scent was preferable to her dog's body odor." Dog barking can be a
nuisance Nuisance (from archaic ''nocence'', through Fr. ''noisance'', ''nuisance'', from Lat. ''nocere'', "to hurt") is a common law tort. It means that which causes offence, annoyance, trouble or injury. A nuisance can be either public (also "common") o ...
to neighbours, and is a common problem that dog owners or their neighbours may face. Many dogs can bark at 100 dBA. Even at 17.5 yards away and with the dog outside a closed window, the noise level of a barking dog can be well over the level that causes psychological distress.Richard Murray and Helen Penridge. ''Dogs in the Urban Environment''. Chiron Media 1992, , pp. 21–22. Different kinds of barking often require different kinds of approach to reduction.Mordecai Siegal and Mathew Margolis. ''When Good Dogs Do Bad Things: Proven solutions to 30 common problems''. Little, Brown and Co. 1986, , pp. 33–44. Common approaches are as follows: # Attempting to understand, and if possible eliminate, the causes of barking. # Using positive training methods to correct the behaviour. Dogs may bark from anxiety or stress, so punishment can often cause problems by reinforcing a cycle of bad behaviour. Positive approaches can include: #* ''Repeated exposure'' to stimuli whilst calming the dog and persuading it to remain quiet. #* ''Distraction'' as the stimulus happens, through treats, praise, or similar. #* ''Reshaping'' via clicker training (a form of operant conditioning) or other means to obtain barking behaviour on command, and then shaping the control to gain command over silence. # In her book Barking: The Sound of a Language,
Turid Rugaas Turid Rugaas is a Norwegian dog trainer. Rugaas got her first dog in 1948 and has been training since 1969. She set up her dog school Hagan Hundeskole in 1984 on her farm on overlooking the fjords of Norway. She started educating other dog trainer ...
explains that barking is a way a dog communicates. She suggests signalling back to show the dog that the dog's attempts to communicate have been acknowledge and to calm a dog down. She suggests the use of a hand signal and a Calming Signal called Splitting. # Seeking professional advice from local organizations, dog trainers, or veterinarians. # Use of a mechanical device such as a bark collar. There are several types, all of which use a collar device that produces a response to barking that the dog notices: #* ''Citrus spray ("citronella") -'' dogs as a rule do not like citrus. At the least, it is very noticeable and disrupts the pattern through surprise. These collars spray citrus around the dog's snout, muzzle when it barks. (Sometimes these devices make a "hissing" noise before spraying, as an additional deterrent – see "Combination and escalation devices" below) #* ''Sonic/ultrasonic (including vibration) -'' these collars produce a tone which humans may or may not be able to hear, in response to barking. Over time, the sound becomes annoying or distracting enough to deter barking. #* ''Electrical -'' these collars produce a mild stinging or tingling sensation in response to a bark. It is important that such devices have a failsafe mechanism and shut off after a certain time, to prevent ongoing operation. #* ''Combination and escalation devices -'' many sound and/or electrical collars have combination or escalation systems. A combination system is one that (for example) uses both sound and spray together. An escalation device is one that uses quiet sounds, or low levels of output, rising gradually until barking ceases. Escalation devices are effective since they "reward" the dog for stopping sooner by not having "all-or-nothing" action, so the dog can learn to react by stopping before much happens. #* ''Humane bark collars -'' are dog bark collars that use a combination of vibrations and sounds. In several studies bark collars have been shown to be very effective. Because there are so many underlying reasons for your dog to bark, a collar may or may not work for your situation. It may also depend on your dog’s temperament. So, choose a dog silencer depending on your dog's personality. Note: * Various bark collars have been both praised and criticised; some are considered inhumane by various people and groups. Electrical devices especially come under criticism by people who consider them torture, torturous and akin to electric shock, electrocution. However most Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals agree that in a last resort even an electric collar is better than euthanasia if it comes to an ultimatum, for a stubborn dog that will not stop any other way. It is generally agreed that understanding the communication and retraining by reward is the most effective and most humane way.

Surgical debarking

The controversial surgical procedure known as 'debarking' is a veterinary procedure for modifying the Larynx, voice box so that a barking dog will make a significantly reduced noise. It is considered a last resort by some owners, on the basis that it is better than animal euthanasia, euthanasia, seizure, or legal problems if the matter has proven incapable of being reliably corrected any other way. Debarking is illegal in many European states and opposed by animal welfare organizations.


''Woof'' is the conventional representation in the
English language English is a of the , originally spoken by the inhabitants of . It is named after the , one of the ancient that migrated from , a peninsula on the (not to be confused with ), to the area of later named after them: . Living languages mos ...

English language
of the barking of a
dog The dog or domestic dog (''Canis familiaris'' or ''Canis lupus familiaris'') is a Domestication, domesticated descendant of the wolf which is characterized by an upturning tail. The dog Origin of the domestic dog, derived from an Pleistocene ...

. As with other examples of
onomatopoeia Onomatopoeia (also onomatopeia in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Cur ...

or imitative sounds, other cultures "hear" the dog's barks differently and represent them in their own ways. Some of the equivalents of "woof" in other languages are as follows: * English language, English – woof woof; ruff ruff; arf arf (large dogs and also the sound of sea lions); yap yap; yip yip (small dogs), bow wow, bork bork * Afrikaans language, Afrikaans – (small dogs) * Albanian language, Albanian – *Arabic language, Arabic – () *Armenian language, Armenian – haf haf (հաֆ-հաֆ) *Azeri language, Azeri – hum hum *Basque language, Basque – (small dogs); (large dogs); (old dogs) *Balinese language, Balinese – *Dutch language, Belgian (Flemish) – (large dogs) (small dogs) *Bengali language, Bengali – *Bulgarian language, Bulgarian – bau-bau (бау-бау); jaff, jaff (джаф-джаф) *Burmese language, Burmese – *Catalan language, Catalan – *Chinese language, Chinese **Mandarin Chinese, Mandarin – wāngwāng (汪汪) **Cantonese – (㕵㕵) *Cebuano language, Cebuano- *Croatian language, Croatian – *Czech language, Czech – (the bark itself) *Danish language, Danish – vov vov; vuf vuf; bjæf bjæf *Dutch language, Dutch – *Esperanto language, Esperanto – *Estonian language, Estonian – *Finnish language, Finnish – *Filipino language, Filipino – *French language, French – *German language, German – *Greek language, Greek – (γαβ, γαβ); (βαβ, βαβ) *Hebrew language, Hebrew – *Hindi language, Hindi – (भों भों) *Hungarian language, Hungarian – vau, vau *Icelandic language, Icelandic – voff, voff *Indonesian language, Indonesian – guk, guk *Irish language, Irish – amh, amh *Italian language, Italian – *Japanese language, Japanese – (ワンワン); (キャンキャン) *Korean language, Korean – meong-meong (멍멍, ), wal-wal (왈왈) *Latvian language, Latvian – vau, vau *Lithuanian language, Lithuanian – au, au *Yugoslav Macedonian language, Macedonian – av, av *Malay language, Malay – gonggong ("menggonggong" means barking) *Marathi language, Marathi – bhu, bhu (भू भू) * no, voff, voff or *Persian language, Persian – haap, haap (هاپ، هاپ) *Polish language, Polish – hau, hał *Portuguese language, Portuguese – au-au; ão-ão; béu-béu (toddler language); cain-cain (whining) *Punjabi language, Punjabi - bau-bau; ਬੌਉਂ-ਬੌਉਂ *Romanian language, Romanian – ham-ham; hau, hau *Russian language, Russian – гав-гав (); тяв-тяв ( (small dogs)); ав-ав ( (toddler language)); rarely ряв-ряв ( (angry dogs and bears)) *Serbian language, Serbian – av-av * si, බුඃ බුඃ () *Slovak language, Slovak – haf, haf; hau, hau *Slovene language, Slovene – hov, hov *Spanish language, Spanish – guau-guau; gua-gua; jau-jau; bau-bau *Swedish language, Swedish – voff; vov vov; bjäbb bjäbb *Tagalog language, Tagalog – aw aw; baw, baw *Tamazight language, Tamazight – hav hav; haw haw *Tamil language, Tamil – வள் வள் - vaL vaL; லொள் லொள் – loL loL; வெள் வெள் – veL veL *Thai language, Thai – โฮ่ง โฮ่ง (); บ๊อก บ๊อก () *Turkish language, Turkish – hav, hav *Ukrainian language, Ukrainian – гав-гав (hav-hav); дзяв-дзяв (dzyau-dzyau) *Urdu language, Urdu – bow bow *Vietnamese language, Vietnamese – gâu gâu; ẳng ẳng *Welsh language, Welsh – wff, wff


The Huntaway is a working dog that has been selectively bred to drive stock (usually sheep) by using its voice. It was bred in New Zealand, and is still bred based on ability rather than appearance or lineage.

Naturally "barkless" dog breeds

Compared to most domestic dogs, the bark of a dingo is short and monosyllabic. During observations, the barking of Australian dingoes was shown to have a relatively small variability; sub-groups of bark types, common among domestic dogs, could not be found. Furthermore, only 5% of the observed vocalizations were made up of barking. Australian dingoes bark only in swooshing noises or in a mixture atonal/tonality, tonal. Also, barking is almost exclusively used for giving warnings. Warn-barking in a homotypical sequence and a kind of "warn-howling" in a heterotypical sequence has also been observed. The bark-howling starts with several barks and then fades into a rising and ebbing howl and is probably, similarly to coughing, used to warn the puppies and members of the pack. Additionally, dingoes emit a sort of "wailing" sound, which they mostly use when approaching a water hole, probably to warn already present dingoes. According to the present state of knowledge, it is not possible to get Australian dingoes to bark more frequently by making them associate with other domestic dogs. However, Alfred Brehm reported a dingo that completely learned the more "typical" form of barking and knew how to use it, while its brother did not. Whether dingoes bark or bark-howl less frequently in general is not sure. The now extinct Hare Indian dog of northern Canada was not known to bark in its native homeland, though puppies born in Europe learned how to imitate the barking of other dogs.''The Gardens and Menagerie of the Zoological Society, Published, with the Sanction of the Council, Under the Superintendence of the Secretary and Vice-secretary of the Society'', by Edward Turner Bennett, Zoological Society of London, William Harvey, Illustrated by John Jackson, William Harvey, G. B., S. S., Thomas Williams, Robert Edward Branston, George Thomas Wright. Published by Printed by C. Whittingham, 1830. When hurt or afraid, it howled like a wolf, and when curious, it made a sound described as a growl building up to a howl.''Fauna Boreali-americana, Or, The Zoology of the Northern Parts of British America: Containing Descriptions of the Objects of Natural History Collected on the Late Northern Land Expeditions, Under Command of Captain Sir John Franklin, R.N. By John Richardson, William Swainson, William Kirby'', published by J. Murray, 1829. The Basenji of central Africa produces an unusual yodeling, yodel-like sound, due to its unusually shaped larynx. This trait also gives the Basenji the nickname "Barkless Dog."

Barking in other animals

Many Animal communication, animals communicate via various vocalizations. While there is not a precise, consistent and functional acoustic definition for barking, researchers may classify barks according to several criteria. University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers identified that volume, pitch, tonality, noise, abrupt onset and pulse duration are amongst the criteria that can be used to define a bark.Lord, Kathryn., Feinstein, Mark., Coppinger, Raymond
Barking and mobbing.
''Behavioural Processes''. 2009.
Besides dogs and wolves, other canines like
coyote The coyote (''Canis latrans'') is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the lar ...

s and jackals can bark. Their barks are quite similar to those of wolves and dogs. The bark of a dingo is short and monosyllabic. The warning bark of a fox is higher and more drawn out than barks of other canids. There are non-canine species with vocalizations that are sometimes described as barking. Because the alarm call of the muntjac resembles a dog's bark, they are sometimes known as "barking deer". Eared seals are also known to bark. Prairie dogs employ a complex form of communication that involves barks and rhythmic chirps.Walker, Matt
Burrowing US prairie dogs use complex language.
''BBC Earth News.'' 2 February 2010.
A wide variety of bird species produce vocalizations that include the canonical features of barking, especially when avoiding predators. Some primate species, notably gorillas, can and do vocalize in short barks.

See also

* Animal communication * Devocalization, Debarking * Dog communication * Dog training * Growling


External links

"Article from ASPCA's Virtual Pet Behaviorist on working with barking problems"
{{DEFAULTSORT:Bark (Dog) Animal sounds Dog training and behavior