Why Does My Golden Retriever Groan? 10 Causes & Their Solutions

Although big and mighty, golden retrievers are actually one of the quietest dog breeds out there. This is why it’s always alarming when you hear your golden grunting, growling, moaning, or making any unusual sounds really.

So, if you’ve been hearing your golden retriever groaning a bit more than usual lately, you really should pay attention – because they’re trying to say something.

So, why does my golden retriever groan? Your golden retriever could groan because they are looking for attention, excited, bored, disappointed, injured, protecting something important to them, ill, you rewarded the behavior, or they are comfortable, it’s normal for them to groan but if it appeared suddenly you should check on them. 

To understand why YOUR golden retriever could be groaning, how to differentiate between their different groans, and what you can do about it in each case, keep on reading…

10 Reasons Why Your Golden Retriever is Groaning

senior golden retriever groaning to explain the answers to why does my golden retriever groan

Here are the 10 possible reasons your golden retriever could be groaning;

  1. Looking for attention 
  2. Showing excitement  
  3. Feeling bored  
  4. Disappointed
  5. Warning  
  6. Injury
  7. Protecting something
  8. Illness
  9. You rewarded the behavior 
  10. Showing comfort

Let’s briefly discuss each of these reasons;

Looking for attention

It could be that your golden retriever is looking for some attention, if they tend to do it in a day that you did not give them enough attention or if you have not been giving them enough attention lately.

If they are just looking for attention, they probably will show other signs that include;

  • Jumping on furniture 
  • Barking
  • Nudging 
  • Bringing you toys 
  • Whining 
  • Excessive begging 


  • Give them attention throughout the day and not when they groan because they will do it more.
  • Take them for a daily walk 
  • Play with them
  • You can take them hiking or swimming 
  • Try new activities with them

Showing excitement 

Your golden retriever could be groaning because they are excited and it’s not just the groaning, dogs tend to make noises when they are excited such as grunting or groaning. You could learn more about golden retriever grunting here.

If your golden retriever tends to do it when you come back home, when they see their favorite treat, when you are about to take them for a walk, or when you bring them new toys, then it’s possibly the reason.

Here are some other signs that your dog is groaning because they’re excited:

  • Open mouth 
  • Jumping up 
  • Panting 
  • They will be mouthy 
  • Vocalizing incessantly 
  • Their tongue will be hanging out 
  • They might be unable to settle 

The solution: 

  • Give them treats after they calm down.

Feeling bored 

If they did not get enough exercise lately or just less than normal then they are probably bored because golden retrievers are meant to get a lot of exercise every day, and when they don’t, they get bored, stressed, and even anxious.

The signs: 

  •  Pacing 
  • Over excitement 
  • Chewing on anything 
  • Escaping 
  • Digging 
  • Scratching 
  • Excessive licking 
  • Running away from you 
  • Panting 
  • Pulling the stuffing from their toys 
  • Barking 
  • Making noises 

The solution:

  • Make time for them 
  • Workout with them 
  • Go for more intense exercises such as hiking or running.
  • Get them some puzzles to leave them busy and to keep them sharp.

You can learn how to hike with your golden retriever here and how to run with your golden retriever here.

I found that interactive toys that keep my dog mentally active are very effective in keeping them calm when I’m too busy to take them for exercise. Here are some of my dogs’ favorite toys that you can try out with your dogs as well:

Just remember to not give them all the toys at once and to never leave the toys just lying around, if you do, the dog will get bored of them and they will not longer entertain them. Keep them locked away and only bring them out when it’s play time.


Groaning is one of the noises that dogs can make when they are disappointed.

If they made that noise after you refused to play with them or when they thought they were going outside but ended up staying at home all day then it’s probably disappointment.

The signs: 

  • Soulful look 
  • Moping around 
  • Sulking 
  • Lying with head on paws 
  • Long face 
  • Paw tapping 
  • Staring 
  • Paw raised 
  • Whining 

The solution: 

  • Step one: find out what made them disappointed 
  • Step two: try to fix what made them disappointed for example if they are disappointed because you refused to play with them, cheer them up by playing with them even a little bit, believe it will be worse and they will appreciate it.
  • You can also speak to a behavior therapist if your golden retriever is struggling to deal with his emotions.


It could be that your dog is warning you about something that requires your immediate attention.

Groaning could be a warning sign that they’re hurt and don’t want you touching them, or warning something else to stay away from their space or stuff.

The signs: 

  • Barking 
  • Whining 
  • Howling 
  • Showing their teeth 
  • Staring 
  • They may hold their ears up


  • You can calm them down 
  • You can try to take them to a behaviorist 

Dogs usually give a lot of warning signs before they turn aggressive, and most accidents happen because people were unaware of these signs or because they ignored them. Don’t ignore the signs that your dog is getting aggressive. You can learn everything about golden retriever aggression here, including the signs and what you should do.


If your dog is injured, he will make noises such as groaning, yelping, or grunting to tell you that they’re in pain.

The signs:

  • Crying out 
  • They will resent normal handling 
  • Limping 
  • Yelping
  • Hiding 
  • Showing signs of agitation 
  • Snapping at you 
  • Becoming less active 
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Runny eyes 


  • If the injury is not severe, you can clean the wound and you can apply a heating pad or an ice pack to the injury.
  • Make sure that your golden retriever rests
  • You can consult their vet to give them nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to ease any inflammation 
  • If the injury is severe, take your dog to the vet and try not to move your dog unless it’s really necessarily 

Your golden retriever could also be limping because of other things. You can learn why golden retrievers limp here for all the possible causes, when to worry, and what to do.

Protecting something 

The cause could be that your golden retriever is protecting something such as their favorite toy, their food, or even their owner.

If they do it when someone gets close to their favorite toy, when they are eating, or when another dog or person gets close to their favorite person.

The signs 

  • Exposed teeth 
  • Growling 
  • Glaring 
  • Snarling 
  • Snapping 
  • Whining 
  • Running around restlessly 


  • Make sure that your puppy gets a proper socialization training 
  • Look out for warning signs because an aggressive dog will give no signs before biting 
  • Give them affection on your terms 
  • Stay calm 
  • Never punish them 


It could be the case that your golden retriever is groaning at you because they are ill.

If they started doing it suddenly, they will probably show other signs of being ill.

The signs: 

  • Vomiting 
  • Runny eyes 
  • Sneezing
  • Diarrhea
  • Gagging
  • Red or swollen gum
  • Runny nose 
  • Coughing 
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Increased heart rate 
  • They might refuse to eat 
  • Excessive thirst 


  • Take them to the vet.

You rewarded the behavior 

It could also be that you rewarded this behavior and reinforced it unknowingly. If you tend to give them more attention when they make that noise, give them treats, or give them their favorite toy.

The signs: 

  • They make it when they see a treat in your hand or when they see a new toy 

However, if they make that noise because you encouraged them to, they will make it whenever they have the chance.


  • Give them treats and attention throughout the day.
  • If they make that noise, don’t give them treats or attention.
  • Wait for them to stop.
  • When they finally stop, wait a while and then give them a treat and some attention
  • If they make that noise again stop and repeat until they get it.

Showing comfort

Another possible reason is that your dog is really comfortable, it would be more likely if they make it when they lay down after a long day or when you hug them. Think of it as their way of saying “finally, home!”

The signs:

  • They may have a high waggy tail
  • They may be playful 
  • Their body will be so relaxed 
  • They will lean into you 
  • Their ears will be relaxed 

Do Golden Retrievers Happy Groan and Grunt? 

Yes, golden retrievers groan or grunt when they are happy or comfortable, that is one of the ways they express their feelings, however, they also grunt when they are disappointed, in pain, looking for your attention, or a combination of one or a few feelings.

Why does my dog groan at night? 

Your dog could be groaning because they are dreaming just like us and the groaning is just a part of the dreaming process, it is known as REM sleep and they groan in the active part of their sleep.

Why does my dog groan when I pet him? 

If your dog starts to groan when you pet them then they are showing how delighted they are and they want you to keep doing it, this noise is similar to the sound of relief we make when we are getting a massage, you know that feeling when all the stress and tension is leaving your body well they feel the same thing.

It also means that they are exhausted and need to rest.

Why does my dog groan when I pick him up? 

Your dog may be groaning because they are tired or they are not feeling well, if your dog is senior then it’s natural that they feel more tired and their bones will be more fragile so if they groan every time you pick them up, it can be a sign of discomfort and it’s better if you take them to the vet to make sure that there is nothing hurting them.

Generally speaking, you should not try to pick up senior dogs as this often causes them pain.

Why does my dog groan when I hug him? 

It is just the sound of satisfaction, they are basically telling you that they are loving this hug and please do it more often.

However, if your dog is aging then the groaning could mean that they are not feeling well or they are tired. The only way to tell is by their overall body language and the loudness and pitch of the groan itself.

Why does my dog groan while breathing? 

Your dog is probably groaning while breathing because they are tired and really need to rest.

There are a few signs you can notice to know when they need to rest.

  • Stretching 
  • Ignoring you 
  • Yawning 
  • Forgetting commands
  • Lip licking 
  • Excessive thirst 
  • Hiding 
  • Out of character 
  • Sniffing the ground 
  • Lying down anywhere 
  • Excessive panting 
  • Losing interest in playing
  • Losing interest in treats

Why does my dog groan when stretching? 

According to veterinary behaviorist Dr. Benjamin Hart, the chief of the behavior service at the University of California school of veterinary medicine-Davis, it’s normal for dogs to groan when they are stretching, also, your dog may be having some scary nightmares.

If this article was useful, you can share it with your family and friends, it may help them out if they are experiencing something similar with their dogs.

Related Questions 

Is it normal for dogs to groan? 

Yes, it’s normal for dogs to groan, it usually means that they want attention, it may be a sound of being satisfied from being petted, or it can be a sign of discomfort, however, if they do not usually groan and they started doing it suddenly, you can check for any injuries or any signs of being in pain.

Do dogs moan when they’re dying? 

Yes, dogs can moan, groan, or grunt when they are dying, however, it’s not necessarily mean that they are dying or experiencing pain but the signs that are associated with death is that they will have no control over their bladder so they may pee or defecate when they are lying down.  

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Helpful Resources 

Overprotective Dogs – Dealing With Them

Sick Dog Symptoms – Know The Signs

10 Signs and symptoms your dog is over tired or exhausted!


Hey there, I'm Matt, the author behind Retrievershub.com. With a deep love for dogs and a dedication to strengthening the bond between owners and their retrievers, I've created a hub of resources for enthusiasts like you. Through engaging articles, training guides, and product reviews, I aim to provide practical advice that makes a real difference in your life as a dog owner. Whether you're a seasoned pro or new to the world of retrievers, my approachable and informative writing style ensures that you'll find valuable insights. Join me on this incredible journey of discovering what makes retrievers tick, unlocking their potential, and creating an unbreakable bond with your furry companion. Let's embark on an adventure of dog ownership together. Thank you for visiting Retrievershub.com and being part of our vibrant community.

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