Why Do Dogs Sigh? What Does it Mean When My Dog Sighs?

why do dogs sigh

Dogs differ from humans in numerous ways, and when they sigh there are several different possibilities as to what this means. Since they cannot talk like we do, they have to use body language to communicate with us and, for instance, sighing.

When a dog sighs there are four main possible reasons:

  • Relaxation
  • Disappointment
  • Want or Need
  • Health Issues

We’re going to look into each of these more deeply.

To determine the meaning of my dog sighing, I have to pay attention to everything: his body language, how often he is sighing, and most importantly – the context of the situation.  So, let’s take a look at why do dogs sigh.


Stanley Coren, Ph.D. explains it very well in his book, ‘Understanding Your Dog for Dummies’, as he states ‘If the action has been rewarding, it signals contentment. Otherwise, it signals an end of effort.’

For example, after a long play session and a lot of running around, your dog sighing after this means that he is content and happy. This is especially the case when our dogs are relaxing with their eyes half-closed. That big sigh means that he is satisfied, calm, and relaxed. It’s the same as when we let out a long breath after we’ve just sat down for the first time in a long day. This is the main reason dogs sigh – simply when they are entering a deep state of relaxation.


However, if ignored, then the sigh is to signal disappointment, or possibly sadness and depression, something like ‘I guess we’re not going to play then.’

This would be the end of effort, and another example with even more context is if your dog has been begging for food throughout dinnertime and doesn’t receive anything, then this sigh means he’s given up, and he’s most likely going to pout about it.

Want or Need

When a dog sighs with his eyes wide open though, this can have a completely other meaning.

Usually, your dog is trying to tell you something, like ‘We haven’t played in a while’ or ‘When was the last time I got a treat?’, so pay attention to the cues. You’ll know when it’s this one, though, because your dog will be staring right at you expectantly.

Health Issues

If you’re wondering ‘but why does my dog sigh so much?’, and you do notice that the sighing is rather excessive, this could be a symptom of an illness.

It’s not uncommon for dog owners to misinterpret a sigh when their dog is actually wheezing, so if you feel that your dog is sighing a little too often a vet visit wouldn’t be a bad idea. It could be nothing, but it’s better to be sure that your dog isn’t suffering from any respiratory conditions, such as chronic bronchitis. Especially if you notice your dog is also coughing and having some trouble breathing, then definitely do not delay and go to the vet as soon as possible.

Why Do Dogs Sigh – Conclusion

It’s not only the context that needs to be taken into consideration, but even the individual dog. It’s like saying how one person’s sigh is another person’s groan, huff, or whine. Plus, some breeds tend to make more or different sounds than others.

For dogs, sighing is your dog’s unspoken sentence.

As a dog owner, I trust that you know your dog’s personality well, so all that’s needed of you is to take a look at the bigger picture and observe the context.

This way, you are sure to be able to understand what your dog is trying to say with a sigh.

Related Posts –

Dog and your Health – Everything you Need to Know

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