"Why Does My Puppy Tilt Their Head All the Time?

"Why Does My Puppy Tilt Their Head All the Time?

Health & Safety

Puppies do some incredibly cute things whether it's sitting there looking as pretty as a picture or trying to pick up their food bowls in their mouths! One of the cutest things they do has to be when they tilt their heads to one side when you call out to them, but with this said all dogs look adorable when they tilt their heads!

There are lots of noises that can trigger a tilt of the head in a puppy, whether it's a strange, new noise they hear or a sound you make, the reaction is generally adorable with many a photo being posted online of puppies posing with their head's at an incredibly cute angle. When puppies and dogs tilt their heads it's usually because they are confused about something, but it could be in anticipation of what's about to happen too. So why do our canine companions tilt their heads in this way? Read on to find out what the experts say.

Dogs Tilt their Heads to Emphasise Things

Over time, dogs have learnt to live alongside man and as such they have come to understand people probably more than the other way around! Dogs are masters at reading body language whether it's that of another dog or a human being. They can differentiate speech patterns and can even recognise a person's facial expressions which means they've learnt how to emphasise things for us to understand better too!

Animal behaviourists believe that dogs tilt their head as a way of filtering out words they have not yet come to recognise so they can pick up on the ones they have already learnt. This could be words like walk"", ""car"" or ""food"". The other thing to bear in mind is that a dog's hearing is far more acute than ours and that they can pick up on frequencies lost to the human ear. They can figure out where a sound is coming from and when they tilt their heads to one side, it helps them pinpoint the direction of the noise even more precisely.

If you make a strange noise your dog has not heard before or they hear something they are not familiar with, they will tilt their head so they can establish the noise actually came from you and not from somewhere else! Another reason could be because their ""noses"" get in the way of their vision and by tilting their head, they get a clearer picture of a person's facial expressions which as previously mentioned, they can read extremely well!

Could it be a sign if a health issue?

However, although extremely cute, head tilting could also be a sign of something rather more sinister going on which includes a condition that affects a dog's vestibular system. If this is the case, a puppy or dog may have real trouble keeping their balance. The vestibular system is found in a dog's inner ear and it's a sensory system that allows them to stand upright and keep their balance so they can move around normally. It lets a dog know where their centre of gravity is and if negatively impacted in any way, then dogs needs to be checked out by a vet as soon as possible.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

There are certain symptoms to watch out for which could be an indication of there being something more worrying than just a cute tilt of the head going on. This includes the following:

  • A puppy holds their head at an abnormal angle more often and for longer than usual
  • They have an obvious lack of co-ordination which is a condition known as ""ataxia""
  • They constantly stumble and fall over
  • They have erratic eye movements and don't seem to be able to focus properly
  • They constantly turn in circles
  • Puppies vomit a lot when there is something wrong with their vestibular system

Sadly, vets do not know why a dog's vestibular system might not work properly, but there could be a number of causes why this happens to puppies and older dogs which are as follows:

  • They have had some sort of trauma to an eye
  • They are suffering from a brain disorder
  • They have a metabolic disease
  • They are suffering from a condition known as Neoplasia which is when their tissue does not grow properly
  • They have a thiamine deficiency which could be put down to a nutritional problem
  • They are suffering from an upper respiraction tract issue
  • Their inner ear canal is inflamed which could be as a result of a parasitic or bacterial infection which has flared up

If you are at all worried, you need to get your puppy along to the vet as soon as possible so they can be thoroughly examined. If the vet finds there is a health issue that's triggering them tilting their heads, they would recommend the right sort of treatment to correct the problem as quickly as possible.


There is nothing cuter than when a puppy tilts their head to one side when you call out their name or make a strange sound they've not heard before. However, if you notice your puppy tilting their heads a little too often even when you have not called out to them, it's time to get them checked out by the vet to make sure nothing sinister is going on. If the vet finds nothing wrong, then one of the most adorable things you can get your new puppy to do, is respond to a strange sound you make by tilting their heads to one side!


Newsletter icon
Get free tips and resources delivered directly to your inbox.


Pets for StudWanted Pets

Accessories & services


Knowledge Hub


Support & Safety Portal
All Pets for Sale