Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."
Ever wondered which dog breeds bark the loudest? This is an interesting question I am sometimes asked when people are looking for a canine companion. Perhaps you are just wondering about this out of pure curiosity or perhaps you are looking for a dog with a booming voice to scare off intruders. Maybe, on the contrary, you are looking for a list of dog breeds to avoid if you live in an apartment where loud barking won't be tolerated.
Regardless of your underlying intent, it's important to point out that there are many differences when it comes to dog vocalizations and no black and white generalizations can be made. Even within a litter of puppies of the same breed, each puppy may have individual variances. Also, consider that barking sounds may vary in intensity and depend on several factors such as a dog's size, age, underlying emotions (some types of vocalizations may be louder than others), breed (some breeds were selectively bred to be loud barkers), and more.
In this article, we will be tackling the following topics:
- How dogs were selectively bred for barking
- Does age and size matter?
- Different types of barking
- Dog breeds selectively bred for barking loud
- Some dog breeds known for being loud barkers
- The dogs who broke the Guinness World Record as loudest barkers
Dog Vocalizations Explained
Many dog lovers find it surprising to learn that wolves vocalize much less compared to the average dog. The reason for this though is not surprising: While dogs and wolves belong to the same genus and genetically share 99.6 percent of their DNA, that 0.4 percent gap makes a whole lot of difference. This difference is what makes dogs domesticated animals and explains why even the most social wolves have failed to ever become domesticated.
Albeit there are several similarities, one main difference between wolves and dogs is the fact that dogs must have split from their ancestors somewhere between 14,000 and 40,000 years ago. This split led to dogs being domesticated by humans and selectively bred for certain appealing traits.
One main appealing trait of early dogs was their propensity for barking. Back in time, early humans lived in dangerous settings where hostile tribes posed a big threat and large animals perceived humans as an easy meal.
Dogs living on the outskirts of their villages would, therefore, engage in booming barks any time an intruder, human or animal, would approach. This loud clamor would alert the residents who would set up a defense as needed. Acting as sentinels, dogs were therefore considered precious, preventing the need for human guardians leaving the humans with more time and resources for other activities.
"This alerting function was clearly one of the motivations for domesticating dogs in the first place" observes Stanley Coren in the book: The Modern Dog: A Joyful Exploration of How We Live with Dogs Today.
As dogs started being welcomed more and more in these human settings, it was easier to start tinkering with genetics. Dogs with the loudest and most persistent barks were therefore selectively bred and allowed to mate with other dogs who also barked. Dogs who didn't bark much instead were considered pretty much useless.
Thus, barking genes were strengthened in dogs to the extent that the predisposition to bark has become one of the main distinctions between wild canines and domestic dogs, further explains Coren.
Does Age and Size Matter?
Many people welcome a puppy without thinking much about a puppy's ability to vocalize. Fast forward the first night the puppy comes home and puppy owners are often shocked by the force of a small puppy's vocalizations. Separated from his mom and littermates and possibly closed in a crate away from his new family, the puppy will emit shrieking distress calls that may have neighbors call the police.
We can't blame them though, puppies miss the warmth of their mom and littermates and those distress calls are meant for survival. Away from the reassuring smells of their former homes, these puppies are in panic mode and all they need is a little comforting from their new owners. Keeping the crate in the bedroom next to the bed and talking to the puppy to let him know he's not alone, should help these pups understand they're not completely alone.
As puppies grow, their lungs further grow too so they will soon develop enough to engage in some more serious vocalizations. Whimpers and whines develop into yaps or booming barks and young, active dogs are sure prone to barking!
Its Bark Is Bigger Than Its Bite!
Size does seem to matter to a certain extent when it comes to how loud a dog barks. A larger dog has a greater lung capacity to create a loud booming bark, but don't underestimate the barks smaller dogs produce!
A smaller dog's barking doesn't always equal to quieter, less unnerving sounds: their sharp, shrill barks can soon have neighbors complaining. It doesn't help that some of the smallest dogs are often the most persistent barkers, barking at the slightest things like leaves moving and bugs.
For example, take Yorkshire terriers. These small dogs often wear fancy ribbons and sleep on plush pillows, but they are prone to being vigilant watchdogs, often too quick to sound the alarm at the minimal sound.
How to Train a Dog to Bark on Command
Different Types of Vocalization
There are many different types of barking in dogs and loudness may vary depending on the dog's underlying emotions. This is, therefore, an important factor to consider when it comes to determining what dogs bark the loudest.
For instance, dogs howl when left alone, and in many cases, howling occurs in hopes of being reunited with the owners. Because of the dog's distress and desire to join their owners, the howling carries over distances quite effectively. It's an unfortunate fact that owners of dogs who are lonely or howl out of boredom or separation anxiety are often the ones struggling a lot over neighbors complaining.
Many dogs bark with intensity too when there are triggers they perceive as intimidating. Often loud barks come from dogs attempting to protect their properties. Many dog owners look for dogs who bark the loudest in hopes of them acting as deterrents, scaring intruders away.
There is a belief that dogs who bark loud are tough dogs who are greatly confident and stand their ground, but often the contrary is true. Territorial barking is known to have a fear component and the dogs barking are often deeply insecure.
These dogs bark loud so to send a message over distance, something necessary if caught in a threatening situation alone, explains Alexandra Horowitz, in the book: Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know.
Interestingly, a few years ago fake burglars entered homes to test how dogs reacted and most of them were wagging their tails instead of attacking or barked and then left the scene. The video is posted below.
Sure, there are likely dogs out there who would have burglars running for their lives but don't entirely count on a large dog with a loud bark to keep your property safe. A bolted door and alarm system is ultimately your safest option for protecting your home and keeping your dog safe from intruders with ill-intent.
Fake Burglars Break Into Homes to See How Dogs React
Do Certain Dog Breeds Bark Louder?
And now, let's go to the meaty part you may have been waiting for: do certain dog breeds bark louder? Well, the answer is that we don't know because there are no studies so far conducted on bark volume across several dog breeds. So all we can really do is speculate.
One thing is for sure though: some dogs just seem to be blessed (or cursed, depending on perspective) with booming barks. When these dogs woof, it sounds more like an unexpected "Boo!" that has you jumping in the air.
Beyond anecdotal evidence, one productive way to find out whether some breeds bark louder is by taking a look at what some dog breeds were selectively bred for. Some dog breeds were specifically bred for communicating through their loud barking. In particular, breeds that come to mind are some breeds that worked at a distance from their handlers and had to alert them despite extensive space gaps. Here is a short list of some dog breeds prone to barking loud.
Hound breeds such as Basset Hounds, Fox Hounds, Beagles and Blood Hounds were selectively bred to bark to communicate with hunters upon being on a "hot trail" (smelling rabbits). Their loud barks upon detecting prey animals is particular enough to deserve their own name: baying. A pack of hounds baying can be quite a deafening experience!
Small terriers such as Yorkshire terriers, Jack Russell terriers, Parson terriers, rat terriers were selectively bred to go after small game. They were purposely bred to bark loudly upon spotting their quarry so they could be easily located, sometimes from even several feet underground. If these dogs failed to bark loud enough they could have been stuck underground without any hope of being rescued.
Livestock guardian dogs such as Great Pyrenees, Maremma Sheepdogs, and Kuvasz were selectively bred to protect livestock. As protectors, they are prone to barking loudly to confront potential predators and discourage them from attacking livestock.
Dogs used for guarding such as German shepherds, Dobermans, Rottweilers were selectively bred to bark loudly so as to alert about an intruder's presence and possibly even scare the intruder away. Herding breeds such as heelers, Kelpies and Border Collies are also known for barking loudly. According to the University of Queensland researchers, young dogs of these breeds tend to bark louder and more often compared to other types of dogs.
A List of Dog Breeds With Loud Barks
Disclaimer: This list is just a general compilation of dog breeds known for their booming barks. Of course, individual variances apply so it's not a black and white list and it may not cover all dog breeds. Some breeds not listed here may therefore be still prone to barking loudly.
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Australian Shepherds
- Australian Cattle Dogs
- Basset Hounds
- Border Collies
- German Shepherds
- Great Danes
- Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs
- Great Pyrenees
- Maremma Sheepdogs
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Old English Sheepdog
- Rhodesian Ridgebacks
- Shetland Sheepdogs
Charlie, the Loudest Barking Dog!
While we can only speculate what dog breeds have the largest bark, one thing is for sure, Charlie is a sure winner who has taken barking to a whole new level! According to Guinness World Records, Charlie, a lovely Golden Retriever owned by Belinda Freebairn, reached a whopping 113.1 decibels during the Purina "Bark in the Park" event held in Australia.
For those folks wondering how loud that is, consider that it's just about the same volume of a live rock concert! Fortunately, his owner reports that the dog is trained to bark on command only.
The previous record was held by Daz, a white German shepherd who reached a respectable 108 decibels. That's the equivalent of your average pneumatic drill!
Loudest Dog Bark in the World
- The Modern Dog: A Joyful Exploration of How We Live with Dogs Today, by Stanley Coren
- Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know, by Alexandra Horowitz
- Not Every Dog Has His Day: The Treatment of Dogs in Australia, byJane Duckworth
- Schassburger, R.M. (1987). "Wolf vocalization: An integrated model of structure, motivation, and ontogeny". In H. Frank (ed.). Man and Wolf. Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Dr. W. Junk
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Adrienne Farricelli
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 11, 2020:
Yes, Pomeranians make good watchdogs! A barking dog can be one of our best defenses, according to the police. He served his purpose well! Ha!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 30, 2019:
Peggy, I hear you! Poms seem so expressive and like to talk a lot. They sure make good watch dogs though as they're quick to sound the alarm at every novel sight or sound.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 30, 2019:
Linda, I was surprised too that a golden retriever won the prize as loudest barking dog. It doesn't sound too loud in the video though, maybe in person it's much louder.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 18, 2019:
This is another interesting and informative article. I was surprised to hear that a golden retriever holds the world record for the loudest bark. I'm glad he only barks on command!
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 18, 2019:
What an interesting article! We have had a number of dogs and each was different. I would not venture a guess as to which one barked the loudest, but the one that barked the most was our Pomeranian.