Why Do Dogs Sigh?

corgi lying on the floor and looking bored

Dogs communicate with us not just through barking but with other sounds, like whines or growls. Sometimes they also let out sighs. These sighs can communicate a few different things. So why do dogs sigh? Here are a few reasons:

What is Sighing?

Sighing is a behavior humans and dogs share along with many other animals. Although a sigh could be considered a type of breath, it’s not the same as a normal breath. A sigh is characterized as being a longer breath and is usually an audible aspiration.

Popular Science defines a sigh as “a deep long breath about twice the volume of a typical breath” and one that sort of stretches the lungs. Sighs can occur alone or paired with other noises and can mean a variety of things.

Why Do Dogs Sigh?

It’s important to know what sighing is so it won’t be confused with other noises your dog may make, like a moan or whine. A sigh is basically an exhale of air, while a moan or groan will have just a slight bit of vocalization to it. These sighs can signal a few things:

1. Contentment

Your dog could be sighing out of contentment and relaxation. You will often hear this when your dog is settling down for a nap or simply sitting down. They may even sigh while napping.
They may also sigh after a vigorous walk or playtime.

An easy way to tell if your dog is content and relaxed when they sigh is to pay attention to their face. If their face is relaxed and calm, their sigh was that of contentment. Their ears will be soft and their eyes may even be only half open which is also a sign your dog is happy.

2. Exasperation

Sometimes your dog might sigh out of exasperation or annoyance. Maybe your dog wasn’t quite ready to come back inside after playtime. Or perhaps you rushed them on a walk, which is one of the ways you’re annoying your dog. Your dog may sigh to let you know how they are feeling. Sometimes it could be because you won’t share your dinner with them.

When your dog sighs out of exasperation, their eyes will be open and alert. They might sigh while laying down, but often they will be sitting up, watching you. There are many types of dog body language to know, which can be useful when trying to figure out what your dog is feeling.

3. Discomfort

A sigh by itself isn’t necessarily something to worry about. Sometimes puppies sigh along with a moan, yawn, or groan. However, when an adult dog sighs and it’s accompanied by a moan or a groan, you should pay attention. This could be a sign your dog is stressed, in pain, in discomfort, etc.

There are plenty of reasons your dog might be feeling discomfort. If they are older, sighing and groaning could be a sign your dog might have arthritis if their joints hurt when they stand up or lay down. It could also be a sign of gastrointestinal discomfort.

If your dog’s sighs, moans, and groans are accompanied by lethargy or lack of appetite, it could be a sign your dog is in pain. If this is the case, you should have your dog seen by your veterinarian. This way, your veterinarian can screen for diseases or infections that may be causing pain or discomfort.

4. Respiratory Issues

Sometimes a sigh can be accompanied by a slight whistling or wheezing sound. If this is the case, this could be a sign of a respiratory infection, an obstruction in the airway, or even a growth in the nasal passage.

If the wheezing or whistling sound continues, you should take your dog to the veterinarian to be checked out. Keep a close eye on your dog for signs of respiratory distress and take them to an emergency clinic if necessary.

When your dog sighs, it can be a great indicator of how they are feeling. Knowing a few reasons that can answer “why do dogs sigh?” is helpful when determining your dog’s mood or comfort level.