We have all borne witness to the adorable doggie head tilt. It is certainly one of their most lovable qualities. Puppy and dog alike, head tilting is an important body language communication effort. But why do they tilt their heads?

Even though dogs have a far greater reaching spectrum of audibility than do humans, they do not have as acute of a locator of the sound they hear. So, when a dog tilts her head, it is perhaps to locate the origin of the sound they hear. This may explain why dogs tilt their heads when we make strange noises toward them.

Of course in some cases, dogs will tilt their heads if they have earaches or ear mites. These head tilts are often accompanied by scratching and other secondary symptoms such as dark fluid in the ear or whining. If your dog is tilting their head and scratches their ears, you may want to make a vet visit.

Unfortunately in rare cases, dogs will tilt their heads if they have a growing brain tumor or Cushing’s disease.  The head tilt is a very common symptom of a growth in the brain. Constant head tilting should be examined by a vet immediately. Constant head tilting is often a major sign of physical distress.

Generally however, the head tilt is not a symptom of an illness. Generally the head tilt is a symptom of an adorable canine behaviour.

Some schools of thought suggest that your dog is attempting to see you better. The theory states that the location of the dog’s muzzle may interfere with their ability to see where the noise is coming from. By tilting their heads, dogs can see our faces better, in turn creating a more discernible way to read our facial expressions. Our facial expressions are our most notable forms of visible communication.

Perhaps dogs have adapted to our energies in terms of the reason why they tilt their heads. Perhaps they have learned to understand that their tilted heads bring us a tremendous amount of joy. By our reaction to their tilted heads, knowing how delightful we express that it is, it’s possible that dogs realize that they can get a laugh, cuddle or even a treat from such adorable behaviour.

Many people believe that dogs tilt their heads as a signal of empathy toward their people. Because dogs are so emotionally sensitive, it would make sense that they wish to express their empathetic, compassionate side through the head tilt. Wouldn’t this make their adorable behaviour even more so? Dogs are remarkably good at reading our energy. Whether we vocalize it or not, dogs are cognizant of when we are happy, sad, angry or hurt. Though they may not understand the words per se, dogs definitely understand he energy behind our voices and behaviours. In order to acknowledge that they understand us, or at least how we are feeling, they may give us an empathetic head tilt. Some experts have even gone so far as to say that the more empathetic the dog, the more frequent the head tilt.

On the other hand, the head tilt may not have more than one layer as many would believe. Perhaps the origin of the head tilt is of our dogs’ necessity to better understand our words. Not to find the location of them or from whom they are coming per se, but the words themselves; the human language. Perhaps dogs tilt their heads when they recognize a word we speak. Particularly words that has an interesting meaning attached to it such as “food” “walk””daddy’s home” can have a tilting effect on your puppy’s head. Your dog is likely attempting to recognize the word you’re speaking.

Whatever the real reason (of course there may be more that one!), the doggie-head tilt is a behaviour that brings laughter and love and enriches our lives with joy!



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