Why Do Dogs Tilt Their Heads? What Causes This Weird Behavior?

Head tilting is something every dog does. It’s how they win us over, no dog owner can resist that look. Everything is cute about it, the flappy ears, the turned eyes, the long neck. When a dog tilts its head and starts gazing at you, you quickly run to get that cute photo.

But, have you ever stopped to think why dogs do this? What is it about dogs that they tilt their heads so often? Why do dogs tilt their heads? Well, you may already have an idea. For sure, you’ve noticed your dog doing that only in certain situations.

Dogs tilt their heads to hear and see better. Although this is not always the case, while tilting their heads, dogs can hear and see better. While tilted, the dog can recognize the direction of the sound, and it can see without its nose being in the way. 

This question deserves a thorough explanation. Here it goes.

When Do Dogs Tilt Their Heads

When Do Dogs Tilt Their Heads


Finding out why dogs do certain things is quite complicated. The thing is, we can never be sure, we can only speculate. That doesn’t mean that we are just throwing ideas out there, scientists are doing structured research.

One method to find out why dogs tilt their heads is to ask ourselves: When do dogs tilt their heads? If we find some common factors in all situations, then we can be relatively sure that is the reason why dogs tilt their heads.

When They Hear A Sound

This is something you must have noticed as a pet owner. Usually, dogs tilt their heads when they hear a sound. So, most dog owners see their dogs with tilted heads when they call it or talk to it.

Here’s where science comes in. Dogs tilting their heads has to do with their ear anatomy and how they register sounds. Unlike us, dogs are not able to hear sounds from all directions. The dog may hear a weak sound but it won’t be able to pinpoint the location.

So, if a dog wants to hear a sound, its head must be turned in the direction the sound is coming from. Hence, the head tilting.

More so, dogs also have flappy ears, especially some breeds like the Beagle. The flap closes the ear canal, so most sounds are disturbed as well. So, to help with pinpointing the sound, dogs tilt their heads and move their flappy ears.

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Think about it, how many times have you seen your dog tilt its head when you are talking to it? Or, does it tilts its head when it hears an interesting noise from outside? If you pay close attention to this, you will notice that head tilting is accompanied by a sound. [Source]

When They Want To Take A Closer Look

When They Want To Take A Closer Look

Now, tilting the head helps with vision as well. I know that this may sound weird to some of you but hear me out. Dogs have a pretty big snout and nose. Believe it or not, this disrupts their forward vision.

You can try this out too. If you focus your eyes enough, you see that your nose is in the way. Imagine this with a dog’s snout. Does tilting your head helps?

Well, that’s what dogs do. Sometimes, dogs will tilt their heads to take a closer look at an object they have an interest in. Remember, dogs see clearly only up close and they have a wide field of view. Because their eyes are more to the side.

When dogs tilt their heads they are able to focus better on an object and see more clearly. This is especially true for dogs with a big muzzle and eyes to the side.

That’s why most of the time, a dog will tilt its head when it’s looking at its owner or food that they want. Your dog is just interested in what you are saying or what you are holding. Tilting its head allows the dog to see you and hear you clearly.

[Related Article: 7 Interesting Facts On How Dogs See The World]

Curious About Something

There is that expressive look at a dog’s tilted head. So, if you want to think of it as more than hearing and seeing, you can think of it as expressing curiosity.

Generally, dogs tilt their heads when there is something that captures their curiosity. That “something” may be a strange sound, a strange object, a familiar sound, a familiar object, you, etc…

The next time you see your dog with a tilted head, see what it’s curious about. Was there a sound before the dog tilted its head? Maybe it’s something to investigate. Are you more often than not eating food when the dog is tilting its head?

[Related Article: 8 Unknown Ways Dogs Show Love And Affection To Humans!]

Ear Infections

Head tilting is not something we always should look at as cute behavior. Unfortunately, the reason behind the dog tilting its head may be health issues.

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Head tilts from curiosity and head tilts a tilted head from discomfort do not look the same. So, you will notice a bit of discomfort in the dog when it’s tilting its head because of an ear infection. Although ear canal infections are not necessarily painful for the dog, they can cause discomfort, making the dog tilt its head.

If you are not talking to the dog, you are not eating or holding anything, there is no strange sound, and the dog is not interested in anything, but its head is tilted, take your dog to the vet. A persistent head tilt warrants health concerns. [Source]

Related Questions And Other FAQs

Why Do Dogs Tilt Their Heads When You Talk To Them

Dogs have flappy ears and are not able to locate a sound’s direction. Tilting their heads helps them hear better and locate where the sound is coming from. When you are talking to them, they are tilting their head because they want to hear you better.

Why Do Dogs Turn Their Heads When You Kiss Them

Unfortunately, dogs do not understand what you are doing when you are kissing them. Although kissing is not something they necessarily dislike, it’s strange for them, hence, the head-turning, and the weird body language.

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