If your pooch has a penchant for making low guttural noises any time he's just lounging around without a care in the world, then he's probably just grunting. Grunting in dogs usually is no cause for alarm, and often signifies extremely delighted furry creatures.
You might sigh a lot after you first plop down onto your living room easy chair at the end of a particularly arduous work day. By grunting, your doggie might be doing the same -- essentially expressing a comfortable state of relief and joy. Perhaps he was stressed out about his visit to the veterinarian's office, or about an extremely loud thunderstorm that just passed. By grunting, he's reveling in a current feeling of utter calmness and serenity. Dogs, like people, are happy when they relax, after all.
Consider context when evaluating the meaning behind your dog's happy grunts, too. If your reclining dog grunts as you approach him, he could simply be giving you a friendly "hello." Grunting can sometimes be a sign of politesse, canine style.
Puppies and Grunting
Grunting is especially prevalent in young puppies in the midst of naps or meals. Although it's prevalent in youngsters, it's not uncommon for fully grown dogs to continue doing it, too. Wee puppies also grunt in other situations apart from napping and chowing down, often when they're getting softly petted by their favorite people. If you hear your pup grunting when he's resting on your lap as you watch television, then he's likely expressing feelings of pleasure and joy. You're in the company of a dog on cloud nine.
Possibly an Involuntary Action
If your dog always grunts when he's in rest mode, he might not even be aware of it. He simply might not be able to help himself. Grunting in dogs is possibly an involuntary action, caused by hard breathing that's reduced in pace. When your dog grunts and relaxes, he's not trying to put on a show of happiness. His emotions and comfort level are indeed genuine.
Grunting Isn't Always Happiness
Don't assume that grunting in dogs is necessarily always an indication of joy. It isn't unheard of for some pooches to grunt along with breathing, for one. Some breeds of dogs are particularly vocal and grunt-happy, too, namely pugs. If your dog grunts in his sleep, it could be an indication of a frightening dream. It could even just be a sound he naturally makes as he moves during sleep.
If your dog's grunting ever seems unusual or excessive, get him to the veterinarian immediately to make sure that it isn't health-related. Grunting can sometimes denote respiratory issues, and can also occasionally signify intense abdominal aching, both of which are potentially extremely serious ailments. Grunting is often a big general hint of discomfort and illness in dogs, so take it seriously.
By Naomi Millburn
Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know; Alexandra Horowitz
How to Raise Your New Puppy in a Cat Family; Jackie Sonnenberg
The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook; Betsy Brevitz
Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook; Debra M. Eldredge et al.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pugs; Liz Palika
The Dog; Linda P. Case
American Animal Hospital Association: How to Tell if Your Dog is in Pain
Chicago Tribune: Grunting Is Normal For Dogs As They Stretch Or Shift Positions As They Sleep
About the Author
Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.