Growling

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Growling is a low, guttural vocalization produced by predatory animals as an aggressive warning but can also be found in other contexts such as playful behaviors or mating. Different animals will use growling in specifics contexts as a form of communication. In Humans low or dull rumbling noises may also be emitted when they are discontent with something or they are angry, although this human sound is often termed "groaning".

Animals that growl include felines, bears, canines, and crocodilians. The animals most commonly known for growling are canines and felines.

Grrr /ˈɡɹ̩ːː/ is an onomatopoeic word which imitates the growling sound of predatory animals, and is often used with other related meanings. It is one of the rare pronounceable words of the English language that consists solely of consonants.[citation needed] Its most simple use is by children imitating animals. An example would be: "Mommy! Look at me! I'm a polar bear! Grrr!" This word is also widely used in various titles to express growling when written.

Growling anatomy[edit]

The growl is emitted from the larynx, also known as the voice box, which is located at the top of the throat. It is made up of both cartilage and soft tissue, with an opening in the center to allow the passage of air. Similar to how humans learn to speak, animals learn to growl through vibration of their vocal cords that occurs when air enters the larynx and passes over them.[1] Organisms such as Dogs tend to have a lower frequency when growling in proportion to the length of their neck, a longer neck will cause a lower frequency.

Growling usually first appears in dogs when puppies are about 24 days of age during play fights, emitting a pitch of up to 450 Hz with great variation in consistency. By 9 weeks old, puppies produce a growl of around 300 Hz, with no variation in consistency. This is the final development of the dogs growl, and it will remain consistent through its life, although may vary in pitch between individuals.[2] In other animals, growling can occur for various reasons. Most commonly is fear, aggression, territoriality, or like in alligators, for mating.[3]

Growling in canines[edit]

Dogs are one of the most common animals known to growl. Dogs growl as a form of communication, most often when they are displaying signs of aggression. Dogs can also growl when they are playing with other canines/humans, growling over their possessions, when they are in pain, or during territorial displays. Human interpretation of dogs and other canines growling is often context dependent. If the growl is isolated as a audio clip, generally humans are unable to determine if the growl is playful, angry, or otherwise. When the growl is elicited directly from the dog, humans are often able to use other physical cues, as well as the length and volume/tone of the growl to interpret its meaning. Humans who are more frequently in the presence of canines are more accurately able to interpret the meaning of growls.[4]

Since dogs are able to distinguish between the different types of growling such as those that display food possession versus growls that are used during play, their behavior changes in response to another dogs growl. During playful interactions, dogs produce a growl which allows them to project their body size to be bigger than it actually is in order to help stimulate their playful behavior and the one they are playing with. This is in contrast to when they produce a growl that accurately projects their body size when guarding food, which is necessary because it will be more dangerous if their opponent thinks they are bigger, as this may result in more injury.[5]

Growling in dogs is generally seen as unfavorable, and there are various methods to deal with this behaviour including therapy, training and temperament testing. The therapy approach to fear based or aggressive growling in dogs seems to work the most favourably, having a strong emphasis on owner-dog communication and understanding, as well as a strong reward system.[6] Food-related aggression in dogs also elicits a growling response, and often occurs in many shelter dogs. This behaviour can have an adverse effect on their adoption rates, even though there is a high probability the food-related aggression will stop in the adopted home. Proper understanding of dog growling behaviours increases the likelihood of adoption in dogs with growling problems that are housed in shelters.[7]

Function of aggressive growling[edit]

Food protection in canines tends to elicit a longer growl than average, and can be directed at humans, other canines, or other animals. Some fish, such as gurnards elicit a growling noise when attempting to grab prey fish, and have been shown to have a higher success rate at obtaining prey than non-growling fish. Growling in gurnards gives an advantage when there is limited food resources.This growl lasts up the 3 seconds and consists of up to 3 sound pulses, and is the only vocalization produced by this fish and is one of their two main feeding strategies.[8]

With growling being used in aggressive behaviours in dog species, it can be used as a predictor as to whether or not an individual will engage in further aggressive behaviour. Different body sizes in domestic dogs can produce different formants which they can use to display their size and predict the size of others. Larger dogs are able to produce formants that appear to be much lower than smaller dogs which in contrast produce higher formants. With this information, dogs are able to judge their opponent’s size relative to their own and decide on what type of action they wish to proceed with during the encounter. Larger dogs are more likely to engage in more aggressive behaviour when their conspecific is smaller than them while they are less likely to interact with their conspecific if it is larger than them. This type of behaviour also transfers over to smaller dogs, in which are less likely to interact with any other conspecific at all if they are in any way larger than them which is likely due to their distinct disadvantage of body size.[9]

In bears almost all vocalizations can be wrongly classified as a growl. Unlike cats and dogs, bears seldom truly growl and instead the fear-moans of a trapped or treed bear are often mistaken as a threatening growl. When bears are being intentionally aggressive, as in when hunting or when threatened, they will tend to remain silent, or make short blowing noises.[10]

Felines such as leopards and tigers also growl to signal territorial aggression, eliciting anti-predator responses from animals such as elephants. Similar to human interpretation of growling, elephants are able to distinguish the threat level based on the individual growl and will respond accordingly; elephants will retreat from tigers, but defend against leopards.[11] Domestic house cats also growl, sounding like "brrrrrooowwww", usually followed by the typical hissing sound. In domestic cats, growling is a warning noise, implying unhappiness, annoyance, fear or other forms of aggression, and is a signal to back off. Cats may growl,similar to dogs, in the presence of other cats or dogs to establish dominance or to indicate they do not wish to interact with that individual[12]

Functions of non-aggressive growling[edit]

Growling may also function as a type of escape from predation as well as a warning signal to other con-specifics of close by predators. The LongSnout Seahorse (Hippocampus reid) uses a form of growling when under stress, in the presence of a predator. They use their low-frequency growl to help warn con specifics of a predator that is currently attacking it and will only show this type of growl when it is being handled. Due to the low-frequency this sound produces, it only works to warn others if they are near by. This type of behaviour still works in its favor as the growl is also accompanied by body vibrations that the seahorse produces, which is likely to deter the predator when it is handling the seahorse.[13]

In Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis), a growl may be produced by females as a response to a "Headslap" display from males. The "Headslap" often involves antagonistic interactions between males and those that do not participate in antagonistic interactions will often lunge toward a female. In response to both the lunge and "Headslap", the female will produce the growl in order to project her sex and location. The growl serves as a signal to the male that his display has been recognized and so the female produces the growl in order for the make to know her location for mating.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Coates, Jennifer. "A Common Cause of Respiratory Difficulties: Laryngeal Paralysis". Pet MD. Pet MD. Retrieved November 8, 2017. 
  2. ^ Beaver, Bonnie (2009). Canine Behavior (2nd ed.). Elsevier. pp. 108–132. doi:10.1016/B978-1-4160-5419-1.00003-1. Retrieved November 8, 2017. 
  3. ^ Vliet, Kent (August 1, 2015). "Social Displays of the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)". Integrative and Comparative Biology. 29 (3): 1019–1031. doi:10.1093/icb/29.3.1019. Retrieved November 9, 2017. 
  4. ^ Taylor, Anna; Reby, David; McComb, Karen (July 28, 2009). "Context-Related Variation in the Vocal Growling Behaviour of the Domestic Dog (Canis familiaris)". Ethology. 115 (10): 905–915. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0310.2009.01681. Retrieved October 19, 2017. 
  5. ^ Balint, A; Farago, T; Doka, A; Miklosi, A; Pongracz, P (September 2013). "'Beware, I am big and non-dangerous!' – Playfully growling dogs are perceived larger than their actual size by their canine audience". Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 148 (1-2): 128–137. 
  6. ^ Galac, S; Knol, W (February 1997). "Fear-Motivated Aggression in Dogs: Patient Characteristics, Diagnosis and Therapy". Animal Welfare. 6 (1): 9–15. Retrieved November 1, 2017. 
  7. ^ Marder, Amy; Shabelansky, Anastasia; Patronek, Gary; Dowling-Guyer, Seana; Segurson-D'Arpino, Sheila (September 2013). "Food-related aggression in shelter dogs: A comparison of behavior identified by a behavior evaluation in the shelter and owner reports after adoption". Applied Animal Behaviour. 148 (1-2): 150–156. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2013.07.007. Retrieved November 1, 2017. 
  8. ^ Amorim, C.P; Hawkins, A.D (October 2000). "Growling for food: acoustic emissions during competitive feeding of the streaked gurnard". Fish Biology. 57 (4): 895–907. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.2000.tb02200.x. Retrieved October 18, 2017. 
  9. ^ Taylor, A.M; Reby, D.; McComb, K. (January 2010). "Size communication in domestic dog, Canis familiaris, growls" (PDF). Animal Behaviour. 79 (1): 205–210. Retrieved 11 March 2018. 
  10. ^ Miller, Gary (February 1980). "Responses of Captive Grizzly and Polar Bears to Potential Repellents". Bears: Their Biology and Management. 5: 275–279. doi:10.2307/3872549. JSTOR 3872549. 
  11. ^ Thuppil, Vivek; Coss, Richard (September 11, 2013). "Wild Asian elephants distinguish aggressive tiger and leopard growls according to perceived danger". Biology Letters. 9 (5). doi:10.1098/rsbl.2013.0518. PMC 3971691Freely accessible. Retrieved November 1, 2017. 
  12. ^ Kelly, Cait. "Let's Talk Cat Growling". Catster. Catster Magazine. Retrieved November 9, 2017. 
  13. ^ Oliveira, T.P.R; Ladich, F.; Abed-Navandi, D.; Souto, A.S; Rosa, I.L (October 2014). "Sounds produced by the longsnout seahorse: a study of their structure and functions". Journal of Zoology. 294 (2): 114–121. 
  14. ^ Vliet, Kent (August 1, 2015). "Social Displays of the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)". Integrative and Comparative Biology. 29 (3): 1019–1031. doi:10.1093/icb/29.3.1019. Retrieved November 9, 2017.