“Every dog has his day, unless he loses his tail, then he has a weak-end.”
June Carter Cash
Did you know that the expression of “the dog being the man’s best friend” was first recorded as being coined by Frederick II, King of Prussia, referring to one of his Italian greyhounds? Europe was already there, in this Italo-Prussian friendship! Of course Frederick II knew that dogs make exactly the same sound all over Europe when they bark. But surprisingly Europeans do not hear the same sound as they listen to it, and consequently do not translate it the same way in letters. We already listened to how cocks crow all over Europe. Let’s now discover how dogs bark! Below the list of European dog barking with some fun facts about dogs in all European countries…
Ão Ão !
Is it possible to catch a fish with a bark? In Portugal, maybe, but with a powerful “Ão Ão!” Portuguese Water Dogs are indeed a breed of working dogs originally from the Portuguese region of the Algarve. At a very early age, they are taught to herd fish into fishermen’s nets.
Guau Guau !
Poor Spanish dogs… Even when they bark with their funny sound “Guau Guau!“, they still bear a bad reputation in Spanish expressions. To have a ‘dog day’ (“día de perros“) in Spanish means that the day is going really badly while the expression “¡Qué perro!” mostly used in Mexico roughly means “that sucks”.
Ouaf Ouaf !
A French legend from the 14th Century proves how a single “Ouaf Ouaf!” can have major implications… According to the story, a knight and favourite of King Charles V, Aubry de Montdidier, was found dead in 1371 in a forest near Bondy. Aubry’s hound, the only creature that actually witnessed the murder, succeeded in bringing suspicion on his rival Robert Macaire…
Voff Voff !
In 1650 Sir Thomas Brown wrote “To England there are sometimes exported from Iceland… a type of dog resembling a fox… Shepherds in England are eager to acquire them!”. These Icelandic sheepdogs, brought to Iceland by the Vikings, have the reputation to be tough, energetic, hardy and agile. And, of course, they learned how to bark in Icelandic: “Voff Voff!”
United Kingdom – Ireland
Woof Woof !
All dogs in the United-Kingdom bark with the onomatopoeia “Woof Woof!”. But Brits also assigned specific barking to different kind and size of dogs. It is said that large dogs (and also sea lions) bark with a throaty “Arf Arf!”. On the opposite, small dogs are expected to bark with a high-pitched “Yip yip!”. Who talked about British class consciousness?
Voff Voff !
In Norway, dogs bark with the sound “Voff Voff!“. There are some dog breeds originating in Norway, in particular the Norwegian Buhund, which is a herding dog. It is a typical northern breed, a little under medium size and squarely built, with a tightly curled tail carried over the back.
Voff Voff !
It is said that Swedish dogs are quite cosmopolite, they can bark in three different ways. They bark either with a normal “Voff Voff!“, or a slight variation “Vov Vov!“. But they can also bark with a strange “Bjäbb Bjäbb!” Sounds like a sheep to us…
Hau Hau !
If Santa Claus, who – as everybody knows – lives in Finland, ever had dogs, they would bark three different ways : “Hau Hau!“, “Vuh Vuh!” or “Rauf Rauf!“. But well, Santa’s reindeers do not bark, they “bell”. And this has nothing to do with ‘jingle bells’…
Vuf Vuf !
Let’s talk about the Scandinavian story of the Dog king, which tells that on the death of the 6th century Danish king Halga, the Swedish King Eadgils sent a small dog (who could bark three different ways “Vuf Vuf!” or “Vov Vov!” or even “Bjæf Bjæf!“) to the Danes to take it as their king but he also warned them that whoever told him of the death of the dog would lose his own life… What happened next?
Waf Waf !
Dutch dogs are maybe among the most creative dogs in Europe. This is a fact. They can choose between very different barking sounds – probably according to the mood of the day. Happy day? Then “Blaf Blaf!“. A bit tired? “Kef Kef!“. Simply bored “Waf Waf!“. Lazy? “Woef Woef!“…
Ouaf Ouaf ! – Waf Waf !
Did you know that Snowy, Tintin’s white wire fox terrier, was bilingual? He almost never barks, but when he does, he says either “Ouaf Ouaf!” in French or “Waf Waf!” in Dutch… This is what makes Belgium so attractive!
Germany – Austria
Wau Wau !
Did you know that the strongest barking recorded in the Guinness Book of Records is that of a white German Shepherd produced in 2009 in London and reaching 108 decibels? This is actually quite logical as German dogs have the advantage to bark with a strong and powerful “Wau Wau!“…
Wau Wau ! – Ouaf Ouaf ! – Bau Bau !
How disgusting! According to a Swiss animal protection society, “about 3% of Swiss people continue to eat cats or dogs in secret“. In 2014, this association launched a petition to end the practice and collected more than 15.000 signatures. Why would people eat dogs, especially in Switzerland where they are told to be trilingual and bark three different ways?
Bau Bau !
“Bau Bau!” Have you ever heard about Fido, an Italian street dog that came to public attention in 1943 because of his demonstration of unwavering loyalty to his dead master? After his adoption, he followed his master to the bus stop every workday for two years and waited for him until the bus returned in the evening. He stood there even for fourteen years after the death of his master…
Haf Haf !
Czech dogs simply bark with “Haf Haf!”. There is a Czech funny breed, the Český Fousek which is wirehaired, and have a beard and moustache. The Český Fousek is thought to be an ancient breed, although written standards were first established in the nineteenth century. The breed nearly went extinct in the 1920s, and was saved by breeding with Stichelhaars.
Haf Haf !
One of the most favourite winter sports is the traditional dog sleigh race that has good conditions and a long tradition in Slovakia. Several international competitions regularly take place in various parts of Slovakia. For its excellent conditions it became popular with foreign participants who gave it the name of “Alaska below the Tatras”. “Haf Haf!”
Hau Hau !
A famous joke making fun of both Poland and the lack of freedom of expression in former USSR says “An American dog, a Polish dog and a Soviet dog sit together. The American dog says ‘In my country if you bark long enough, you will be heard and given some meat’, the Polish dog replies ‘What is “meat”?’ and the Soviet dog says ‘What is “bark”?’.
Vau Vau !
Have you ever watched the Hungarian movie White God which won the Prize Un Certain Regard at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival? The film follows the mixed-breed dog Hagen who is determined to find his lost master, Lili. The dog attracts a large pack of half-breed followers who start a seemingly organised uprising against their human oppressors…
Au Au !
There is a small town in the neighborhood of Vilnius famous for its bohemic and laissez-faire atmosphere. The district declared itself an independent Republic with its own constitution stating among others that “A dog has the right to be a dog.” Sounds crazy? Maybe not. The constitution also says: “People have the right to be unhappy“.
Vau Vau !
The International Dog Show takes place every year in Latvia bringing together the best of different breeds of dogs from Latvia and abroad. There, one can hear all dogs barking in different languages. Of course, Latvian dogs are more represented so that one can distinctly hear more “Vau Vau!” than any other bark!
Auh Auh !
The city of Tartu in Estonia experienced a new method of reading lessons. In the town librairy, children are invited to read loud the books of their choice not to other children but to dogs. This initiative is supposed to help them have more confidence in themselves because even if they make mistakes, dogs do not hold it against them.
Gav Gav ! (гав-гав)
In Belarus, dogs have to compose with a different alphabet… There, they bark with the sound “Gav Gav!” or in Cyrillic script “гав-гав”. There is in Belarus an old funny cartoon featuring a dog. The plot is based on Ukrainian folk tale: the host expels an old dog of the house, the poor animal goes into the woods… And the fun begins!
Hau Hau ! (гав, гав)
Have you ever heard about Oxana Oleksandrivna Malaya? She is a Ukrainian girl internationally known for her dog-imitating behaviour. Malaya has been the subject of documentaries, interviews and tabloid headlines as a feral child “raised by dogs”. She could bark just as dogs in Ukraine, either with “Hau, Hau!” (гав, гав) or “Dzyau, Dzyau!” (дзяв, дзяв).
Moldova – Romania
Ham Ham !
In Moldova and in Romania, dogs bark with the sound “Ham, Ham!” There is in Romania an association called “Save a Dog Romania” which fights for the protection of animal rights and tries to rehabilitate dogs by finding them a new home. The “stray dogs problem” in Romania has led to the elimination of many dogs by the authorities. The association looks for new solutions.
Hov Hov !
There was in Slovenia in the 1980’s an avant-garde music group associated with industrial, martial, and neo-classical musical styles called Laibach. In April 1983 the group resumed its activities with a live appearance in Ljubljana, for which recordings of dogs barking and snarling were used as the concert intro. “Hov Hov!”
Vau Vau !
Dog owners might want to reconsider before relocating to northern Croatia, where a court recently gave a dog an injunction for… barking. Medo, a 3-year-old mutt, has been given a court order to stop barking between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. “He barks normally, like any dog does,” owner Anton Simunovic said. “He barks when he sees a cat, or if someone unknown comes to his territory.”
Serbia – Bosnia and Herzegovina
Av Av ! (ав ав)
With his barking sound being “Av Av!“, the Serbian hound is said to be an average barker. The Serbian Hound is said to be a very obedient breed of dog, forming bonds with its family and owners and walking and playing with loved ones for hours. It is also a very good worker with a tenacious nature that will not let it give up until it finds its quarry.
Ham Ham !
On the march to India, Alexander The Great was said to have been given a dog by the king of Albania. The king said that it should be tried against a lion or elephant, which Alexander did. The lion was torn to pieces and the elephant, turning around to defend itself from attack on one side and then the other, crashed loudly to the ground from sheer dizziness…
Bau-Bau ! (бау-бау)
Have you ever heard about the War of the Stray Dog, a Greek–Bulgarian crisis in 1925, in which there was a short invasion of Bulgaria by Greece? The war started when a Greek soldier ran after his dog, which had strayed across the border from Greece at the pass Demirkapia on Belasitsa. The border was guarded by Bulgarian sentries, and one of them shot the Greek soldier.
Av Av ! (ав ав)
Dogs have not it easy to bark in North Macedonia. They first have to choose the alphabet in which they will be barking – either the latin or the cyrillic alphabet. They then have to choose the sound they will be doing. It gives them the alternative of “Av Av!” which is in cyrillic “ав ав!” or “Dzhav, Dzhav!” that is to say “џав џав”…
Ghav Ghav ! (γαβ γαβ)
The Greek philosopher Diogenes of Sinope was one of the founders of Cynic philosophy. Many anecdotes refer to his dog-like behavior, and his praise of a dog’s virtues. It is said that Diogenes was insulted with the epithet “doggish” and made a virtue of it… History doesn’t say if he was barking with “Ghav, Ghav!” (γαβ, γαβ / γαυ, γαυ) or “Bhav, Bhav!” (βαβ, βαβ).
Hav Hav !
There is a Turkish dog, the Kangal, which is a breed of livestock guardian dog, originating from the Kangal district in Sivas Province. It is of an early mastiff type with a solid, pale tan or sabled coat, and with a black mask. And it barks of course with the sound “Hav Hav!”