Why Does My Golden Retriever Grunt? 9 Causes and Solutions

Dogs can’t talk to us, but they can surely communicate with us in other ways; their body language, their movements, their barks, their facial expressions, and their grunts, moans, and groans.

This is why it’s so important to find out why your dog is groaning or making any other noises. You can’t ignore their noises the way you do with your car, because in this case, you are the mechanic and the one responsible for fixing whatever is wrong.

So, why does my golden retriever grunt? Your golden retriever could grunt because they are excited, in pain, scared, bored, they are looking for your attention, you may have encouraged this behavior, or they may be protecting something important to them, also, it could be a combination of a couple of reasons.

That was only part of the answer. You still need to know what you should do about it, but this can’t be explained in one paragraph. To understand why your own golden retriever could be grunting and what you can do about it, keep reading…

9 Reasons Why Your Golden Retriever Grunt

golden retriever looking annoyed to illustrate the answers to why does my golden retriever grunt

Here are the 9 possible reasons why your golden retriever could be grunting;

  1. Excitement  
  2. Illness
  3. They want attention 
  4. Fear 
  5. They are protecting something
  6. Boredom 
  7. Pain 
  8. They are being aggressive 
  9. You encouraged the behavior 

Let’s go quickly over each of these reasons;


Your golden retriever could be grunting because they are excited if they grunt in situations such as getting their favorite treats, when they play with their favorite toy, or when you come back home.

If they grunt because they are excited, they are going to show one or a few of these signs:

  • Their tongue hanging out
  • Jumping up 
  • Vocalizing incessantly 
  • Panting 
  • They can become mouthy 
  • Their body may be shaking 
  • They may chatter their teeth 

Overall, they are going to be energetic and happily excited, and you will be able to tell from their overall energy that they are excited about something.


If your golden retriever started doing it suddenly,  they could be ill or injured and they may show other signs with the grunting, these signs could include:

  • Vomiting 
  • Coughing 
  • Breathing difficulty 
  • Unresponsive
  • Pale or blue gums
  • Limping 
  • Lameness that lasts for more than 2 hours 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Change in their personality 
  • Making other noises 


  • Find the source (why they may be ill or where they are injured)
  • Take them to the vet 
  • If they are grunting after or before vomiting, keep the food away from them and try missing one meal but still allow water access 
  • If they are coughing, try giving them boiled water often

They want attention

 It could be that they are trying to get your attention so if they do it when you didn’t give them the attention they need lately.

If they seek attention, they will probably show other signs that include;

  • Whining 
  • Jumping on furniture 
  • Barking 
  • Nudging 
  • Bringing you toys
  • Averting eyes 
  • Scratching 
  •  Chasing imaginary butterflies 


  • Give your golden retriever the attention they deserve throughout the day 
  • Make playtime for them every day and that does not include their daily walk
  • Exercise with them for at least two hours a day 
  • You have to spend one-on-one quality time with them 

If you have to spend a lot of time away from home on a daily basis, you will find some very useful tips and tricks in this post on how to leave golden retrievers alone here.


One of the reasons why your dog could be grunting is because they are afraid of something, it’s more likely the cause if they do it whenever they hear loud noises such as thunder or fireworks.

Other signs they’re afraid include:

  • Attempting to hide 
  • Pacing 
  • Shaking 
  • Salivation 
  • Growling 
  • Lifting a paw 
  • They will be too distracted for you to get their attention 
  • Lowered body language 
  • Aggression 
  • Hyperactivity 
  • Lifting their paw 
  • Inability to settle 
  • Showing the whites of their eyes
  • Scratching 
  • Reactivity  


  • Comforting them 
  • You could take them to the vet if the situation is out of your control
  • Get down on their level and do not try to pick them up while you are standing up
  • Try to stay positive and calm
  • Avoid direct eye contact 
  • Watch out for any signs of aggression 
  • Do not loom over your dog 

They are protecting something 

Your golden retriever could be grunting because they are protecting something such as their food, a toy you gave them and it’s really valuable to them, or even their favorite person.

If your dog is just protective then they will probably show more signs, and these could include:

  • Stress around other people
  • Growling 
  • They may glare at the approaching person 
  • Show their teeth 
  • Freeze 
  • Snarling 
  • They may even snap 
  • They could bite 


  • If you are out for example in the park or just in the street going for a walk with them, keep them on a leash and at your side 
  • If they showed any signs of aggression, turn around and pull them away
  • Give them a treat whenever they are acting the way that you want them to.

Notice that there is a difference between protection and possessiveness. All dogs are both protective and possessive to some degree, and while being protective is a good thing, you still need to train your dog well in order for this protection traits to not turn into full-on possession.


Your dog could grunt out of boredom because golden retrievers are supposed to get a lot of exercise daily and if they don’t get enough exercise on a regular basis, they will start getting annoyed because of all the pent up energy and they may start showing their annoyance with these signs;

  • Pacing
  • Digging 
  • Excessive licking
  • Panting but without physical exertion 
  • Escaping 
  • Scratching 
  • Pulling the stuffing from their toys
  • Running away from you 
  • Barking 
  • Over excitement 
  • Chewing 


  • Exercise with them for at least an hour a day 
  • Take them for a daily walk for another hour at least
  • You can take them swimming or hiking 
  • Always make time for them, they love nothing more than spending time with you.

Boredom in golden retriever is very bad, and it could lead them to be destructive or even run away. You can learn more about why golden retrievers run away here.


If they started grunting suddenly, they are probably in pain and you will need to look for other signs to make sure before you take them to the vet.

The signs:

  • Growling 
  • They may be sensitive to touch 
  • Less active 
  • Yelping
  • They may become grumpy
  • Hiding 
  • Limping 
  • Crying out
  • They may snap at you
  • Shallow breathing 
  • Being depressed 
  • Reluctant to walk
  • Increased heart rate 
  • They may show signs of agitation
  • They will become quieter
  • Loss of appetite 


  • Take them to an emergency vet clinic 

They are being aggressive

 One of the reasons your golden retriever is grunting or making other noises is because they are being aggressive.

If they tend to do it whenever they are around a certain person, around other animals, or when they see something they dislike.

If they are being aggressive they will probably show other signs.

The signs:

  • Snarling 
  • Showing their teeth 
  • Standing tall
  • Excessive low-range barking 
  • Carrying their tail high 
  • Snapping 
  • They will hold their ears up 
  • They will move their tail from side to side 
  • Growling 


  • You can call a professional trainer 
  • You can also take them to an animal behaviorist 
  • You should wait for them to calm down 
  • Avoid physical contact with them and do not try to fix it on your own if you don’t know what you’re doing because an aggressive dog will not show any signs before biting  

You can learn more about signs of golden retriever aggression here. I have also made a dedicated post about why golden retrievers growl here which you should definitely check out as it tells you how to know when are the growls aggressive and when they are not.

You encouraged the behavior 

You may accidentally encourage them to act that way.

For example, you may give them more attention whenever they grunted and they somehow connected the dots that making that noise gives them more love and attention and that’s why they keep doing it.


  • When they do it again do not encourage them in any way, for example, if you were playing with them and they grunted, stop playing with them or if they just want attention give them the attention they want after they make that noise but not immediately, wait for a while then shower them with attention and love.

Whatever the reason why they are grunting or making any noise, you should not yell at them or punish them even if they are being aggressive.

How to know if it’s a grunt, moan, or groan? 

Here is a simple table that tell you how to identify if the noise your golden retriever is making is a grunt, moan or groan;

It’s a low guttural noise It’s a low-pitched noise they makeIt sounds like a long sigh 
It usually indicates that they are happy.It either indicates they are in pain or their sound of pleasure They make that noise when they are disappointed 
Table that illustrate the differences between grunts, moans, and groan sounds in dogs.

I’ve made this table because the majority of people can’t really tell what the noise their dog making is called, and it’s important to be able to identify these noises correctly as each of them can actually have vastly different meanings based on their context;

What to do about your golden retriever’s grunts? 

Here are some tips and methods you can do to stop your golden retriever from grunting.

  • Make sure they are okay
  • Reward them for doing what you want
  • Consult a dog behaviorist 
  • Avoid encouraging them to do it
  • Give them attention 

Make sure they are okay

Look for any signs of them being ill or injured if they started grunting suddenly.

If you did find other signs such as the signs I mentioned above, then you need to take them to the vet so you can get the best attention and care that your golden retriever deserves.

Reward them for doing what you want

You can just reward them whenever they are behaving the way you want them to and when they do so when they are playing with you and they don’t grunt, give them a treat and when they make that noise, stop playing with them and do not give them a treat. 

  • Stop playing with them if they start making that noise
  • If you were giving them attention and they grunt, stop to let them know that making that noise will stop all the attention
  • Shower them with attention again when they stop grunting but stop immediately if they start doing it again 
  • You can keep repeating the above and you can even add treats whenever they stop making the noise.

Consult a dog behaviorist 

If you can’t find the reason why they are grunting or you tried everything that you can to stop them but nothing worked, you can consult a dog behaviorist.

Another reason to consult a dog behaviorist is if your dog is doing it out of aggression as they will tell exactly what to do in your own specific case and guide you through it.  

Avoid encouraging them to do it

If you tend to give them what they want when they make that noise then they will think that you are rewarding them and they will do it more.

So you can just reward them when they are being calm and quiet, also, stop any kind of reward when they make it.

Give them attention 

If they are grunting because they are seeking your attention, then give them attention throughout the day. For example, take them for a walk, go hiking with them, take them for a swim, or just play with them, and try to do it multiple times per day even if you do each activity for just 15-30 minutes at a time when possible.

My dogs love that I take them for a quick walk around the block every coupe of hours when I’m working from home. You can also do the same; make the most out of your breaks if you’re working from home and go for a quick walk or run with your dog instead of browsing through social media.

If you give them the attention they want, they will not try to get your attention by grunting or by making any other noise.

If this article was useful to you, please share it with your family and friends, it might be useful to them as well, and certainly, I will appreciate it.

Related Questions 

Do dogs grunt when they are happy? 

Yes, dogs grunt when they are happy, dogs use guttural noises to show they are happy so if you pet your dog and they grunt they are feeling relaxed and happy, or when they finally settle into their bed so they grunt, they are expressing relief, serenity, and joy. 

Why is my dog suddenly groaning?

Your dog could be groaning because they are looking for attention, they are in pain, they are feeling uncomfortable, they are satisfied from being petted, or they are injured and it depends if it started suddenly for no reason or they have always been doing it.

How do I tell if my dog is in pain?

If your dog is in pain, they will probably show one or a few of these signs.

  • They may cry out 
  • They may become grumpy 
  • They will be quieter 
  • Lack of appetite 
  • They may show signs of agitation 
  • They will be less active
  • They may limp 
  • Increased heart rate 
  • They may become depressed
  • Yelping 
  • They will resent normal handling 
  • Hiding 
  • They may snap at you 
  • They will sleep more
  • Redness 
  • Swelling 
  • Watery eyes
  • Covering their face with their paws 
  • Excessive licking 

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Helpful Resources 

10 sounds your dog makes and what they mean

Helping a Scared Dog

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