As music-loving humans, we often project our own tastes onto our dogs, making them listen to endless hours of our favorite album and assuming they either like it or don’t. However, recent studies done on the relationship between dogs and music prove that for the most part, Fido doesn’t give a darn about the Top 40 or our Greatest Hits. Disappointing, we know.
Though music is not uniquely human, it seems dogs don’t process it like we do. Charles Snowdon, an animal psychologist at University of Wisconsin-Madison notes that pups enjoy “species-specific music” which is music designed to appeal to their sensibilities. In short, humans love music that we can relate to, like that which uses tones we can process, tempos that resemble our heartbeats and songs that fall around our own vocal ranges. Dogs do too. Because scientific studies have shown animals generally don’t respond to our music, Snowdon worked with David Teie, a composer, to create doggy music.
A dog stands in front of the Sydney Opera House at the first ever “Music For Dogs” concert
With the varying breed size, vocal range and heart speeds, this theory makes it a bit more difficult to pinpoint what a dog digs. Labradors or mastiffs, large dogs that are more similar in size and vocal range to humans than, say, Chihuahuas, are more likely to groove to our music than their smaller counterparts. At least that’s what Snowdon thinks.
Of course, we’ve all seen dogs respond to our music and there is research (and amazing YouTube videos like this one) to support that too. According to Deborah Wells, a researcher and psychologist at Queen’s University Belfast, dogs have shown to behave differently while listening to varying music genres and thus in some way are emotionally interpreting it. Snowdon also recognizes that dogs do have absolute pitch, but not relative pitch meaning they can recognize a sequence of notes in only one key and can’t understand the relationship of the notes, should the key change.
This video of dogs playing a nice little song shows their ability to recognize notes:
Anyway, what do you think? Does your dog like music and if so, what is his or her favorite stuff to listen to?