Can Animals Really Listen to Music?

There is nothing more in the world I would rather see, than my furry companion nodding to some serious tunes with air pods kindly pressed upon their furry ears. Comical as it seems, the question has been asked for many generations: Can animals in fact truly listen to the sounds of “The Beatles”, “Bon Iver”, “David Bowie” and even “Nicki Minaj”? Further, do they actually enjoy it? The conclusion may surprise you!   

The human race has grown to adapt and dominate the animal kingdom. Through constant evolving, human beings have managed to create a way of life that is completely, in some cases not far from, our living species counterparts.  We as humans, can relate and connect through the sounds and frequencies music upholds for our soul. Music allows us humans to embark on an emotional journey, fuel our happiness and engage in self- discovery that paints life’s picture in a miraculous way. The truth be told, it’s hard not to like the components of music. Music is all around us. And as these melodic and harmonic strings of music notes guide our beings through life, we may not be the only ones needing the fluent guidance. Have you ever wondered what our furry companions listen to? It may be an absurd idea but not incredibly abnormal. Throughout centuries, scientists have been contemplating over the fascination of if dogs, cats and other animals actually connect to music, the same way humans do. To some astonishment, the results are quite interesting.

The music you like may not be your pet´s cup of tea
The music you like may not be your pet´s cup of tea

According to Life, my happy yet curious discovery was that many dog and cat owners leave their homes with the sounds of the radios playing daily for the enjoyment of their pets. But through our human race’s narcissism, its notion to project that pets would like the same heavy rock and roll sounds, or the folk ballads of country music is false to say the least. According to Animal Psychologist, Snowdon from University of Wisconsin-Madison, animals in fact have their own version of music that is surrounded by more specific and distinctive sounds. From various tones, pitches and tempos there is music that is created from that particular species. For humans, we are conditioned to resonating musical implications through certain pitches and tones. However, if the tune was too high in frequency or even low in sounds, we may not consider it music. We may even depict it as annoying or unbearable. Similar to human music scales, animals indeed have scales of their own. So, in a funny perspective: when you play the new “Lady Gaga” album to your dog, the human music falls into an unrecognizable part of their brain. In a sad conclusion don’t let the cuddly happy reaction fool you. With heart rates and vocal ranges that are completely different than ours, blasting “Queen” may not resonate to them.

In 2009, researchers developed two songs for Tamarin Monkeys. The squirrel-sized monkeys from Central and South America regions are known for vocalizing three octaves higher than the human race and having a heart rate twice as fast as human beings. When songs were created and played with these notions in mind to the Tamarins, the monkeys reacted in an active, highly energetic way resulting from the lively monkey tones and fast tempo track. For the second song, the sounds of happy monkeys at a slower pace, calmed them down almost effortlessly. Other animals have been an intriguing audience for all thing’s music. In 2001, a study concluded that “Simon and Garfunkel’s” song “Bridge over Troubled Water” and other calming ballads of musical interpretation aided cows to produce more milk, creating a non-stressful atmosphere.

The Thai Elephant Orchestra may prove that elephants might be better at playing instruments than humans! Conservationist, Richard Lair creates a 16-elephant band in which the animals play instruments such as the steel drums and even harmonicas.

From birds reacting to music in a similar manner as the human brain to fish understanding the difference between composers, animals are somewhat prone or even reactive to the fluidity of sounds “music” can create.

The Barks and Meows of Music!

Classical music concert
Classical music concert

Regarding your household pets, through various studies, dogs are apparently the more critical music listeners. With a substantial number of different breeds ranging in size, heart rate and vocal intonation make it hard to distinctively develop an accurate result or creation of dog music. Snowdon explains that large dogs such as Golden Retrievers or Great Danes, may have similar vocal frequencies to human adult males. In this case, the bigger dogs can be more responsive to human music as opposed to small tiny cup dogs such as Chihuahuas. However, according to, dogs in kennels might be less stressed while listening to classical music. A study conducted surrounding 117 kennel dogs concluded that classical music seemed to calm their nerves as well as allow them a well-rounded sleep schedule.

Too calm at times and unimpressed in nature, cats really don’t care about human music. However, Snowdon developed a similar study as to the Tamarins. The researcher created two songs specifically developed for cats with similar frequencies and tempos they are accustomed to. The result seemed successful as the cats began to rub against the speakers with pure approval. The study was deemed so successful, one can actually purchase music for their beloved cats, and not to mention, for a purrrrfeeecct price.

Purrrfectly designed music for pets
Purrrfectly designed music for pets

Music for

Shedding on some furry musical perspective, there indeed is vocal animalistic frequencies that entice the various ears of the animal kingdom. the sounds are subjective. Just like the human race, there are many races of species that have captivated their own musical sounds that could in fact be soothing for certain ears. The next time you leave your house with the sounds of “Stevie Wonder” or “KISS” for the comfort of your pet, they may not be having a barking good time. Music can bring people together, now its more apparent that it does in fact bring animals together too.


Photos: Shutterstock

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