Barking mad: the locations of Britain’s noisiest pooches revealed

Whilst pet ownership levels between 2011/12 and 2017/18 were around an estimated 45% to 47% in the UK, lockdown resulted in more people choosing to get a furry friend, with 59% of households now owning a pet in 2020/21.

For anyone who owns a pooch, we all know how mischievous they can be – but sometimes, this can get them, and their owners into trouble if they’re causing a noise nuisance. Dogs that bark too much could even land their owners with a fine, or worse, if people complain about the noise. 

With an average 37,374 dog barking complaints made every year in the UK, we’ve crunched the numbers to see which locations are home to the noisiest dogs by looking at the number of neighbours who’ve complained via their local council.

Coventry is home to the noisiest pooches in the country

With an average number of 1,704 complaints a year, Coventry officially has the noisiest dogs, followed by Birmingham, with the city council having received 1,232 complaints a year. 

In third place, with just a third of the number of complaints is Belfast, followed by South Lanarkshire, and then Leeds with 698 complaints a year. 

At the other end of the spectrum, the area that received the least number of complaints was the City of London, with just one complaint a year. This is unsurprising, given that it covers an area that spans just 2.9km squared, and consists mainly of offices and tourist attractions, as opposed to residential areas (for reference, the City of London refers to the area between Temple and the Tower of London, and from Chancery Lane to Liverpool Street).

Of the other four areas that received the least average number of complaints for noisy dogs a year, three are situated in remote areas in Scotland: the Western Isles, at just four complaints a year, alongside the Shetland Islands, and the Orkney Islands; with Oadby & Wigston in Leicestershire also receiving minimal complaints.

Golden Retrievers are the noisiest dogs in the world

Naturally, some dogs are louder than others, which means that certain breeds might find they have more noise complaints made about them.

Whilst many dogs are capable of barking at a sound intensity level of 100 decibels, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, Golden Retrievers have the loudest bark in the world, reaching 113.1 dBs. For reference, if a person were to shout loudly, that equates to around 80 dBs, so you can see why if a particularly loud pooch were to continuously bark, next door neighbours might get annoyed.

According to Kennel Club accredited trainer, Joe Nutkins, other dog breeds which are particularly noisy include: German Shepherds, Beagles, Chihuahuas, and Siberian Huskies; whereas the quietest dog is the Basenji, which is often referred to as the “barkless dog” because it’s so quiet – so if you’re the proud owner of a Basenji, you can be near-certain that no noise complaints will be made about you.

Expert reasons on why your dog might be barking excessively

There are lots of reasons why your dog might be barking excessively. These can vary from breed type and character of a dog, so it’s always worth considering why your dog is making so much noise. 

Joe Nutkins, has highlighted some of the more common reasons for barking below.

They’re seeking attention

When dogs are seeking attention – whether it’s from their owner, a family member, neighbour, or even just a random person in the street - they will use what has worked in the past, which can include barking. 

A dog will bark to see what reaction they get, and of course, so often people will look at the dog either to ask 'what are you barking at?' or to give them a disapproving look. Either way, this is providing the dog with attention, which in turn, reinforces the barking with that person and with the next person. 

This can mean that a dog will learn to bark and bark to get a response as they can also discover that even if someone tries to ignore them, there will usually be a point where the person will eventually look at them and say 'will you stop barking?!', which shows the dog that persistence pays off.

They’re playing

Some dogs like to use their voices during play. Terrier breeds often use a playful growl, whereas smaller breeds might give some yaps, and other dogs will simply enjoy a bark. This can be just one or two yaps, or it can become a series of barks to encourage another dog or person to play or chase them. 

If they’re an energetic dog, this could lead to a lot of barking where the other dog or person has finished the game, but the main dog is still wanting to play.

They suffer from separation issues

Dogs can experience separation Issues at any age, and they can be triggered from a range of experiences including owners changing their routine, moving house, or people returning to work after an illness at home. One of the main signs of separation anxiety includes barking, as well as toileting or chewing furniture. 

When a dog is feeling anxious or stressed, having a bark can release endorphins which help them feel better for a moment, but then the stress returns, so they need another bark. This can then become constant barking as when they stop, the endorphins also stop. 

They feel fear

This feeling of fear can come from anything, such as a neighbour having work done, or a window cleaner appearing in the window. When a dog is scared of something, they can revert to numerous ways to deal with it, including barking. 

Barking can be to try and send the subject of the fear away, such as a new sound happening outside the house, or the hoover following them around the living room; or the barking can be viewed as a way to call for assistance. Until the source of the fear has gone, or they have some reassurance from their family returning home or coming to their aid, the barking can become excessive.

They have a natural instinct of guarding

Many breeds have a natural guarding instinct, while others are trained or encouraged to guard. That means if they hear a noise, they may use barking to raise the alarm, prevent something from happening, and challenge the person or 'thing' that is nearby. These types of barks can often be deep and fast paced with a sense of urgency and make people jump.

They have a natural instinct of being territorial

Breeds that are naturally territorial, such as Terriers, Miniature Schnauzers, Lancashire Heelers, and Dachshunds can use barking as part of this instinct. Have you seen your dog bark at the post coming through the letterbox? From a dog's perspective, the person arriving each day to bring alien items into their home is an invasion of their space, and post coming through the letterbox is getting way too close for their liking. So, they bark, and the postman miraculously goes away.

If they know their bark has worked, it can further build, so your dog starts barking as soon as they hear the postman walking up the driveway, when the mail is being dropped through the letterbox, and even when they’ve moved onto the neighbour.

While something is 'invading their space', such as people talking outside the house, the barking will continue to ensure those voices don't come into the home.

They’re communicating with other dogs

Dogs will bark back if they hear a dog in the distance barking too. So, you may hear your own dog or a neighbour's dog barking excessively to apparently nothing, but actually, a few doors down, or in the next village, another dog is replying to your dog and they’re communicating with each other. So have a listen - you might be surprised.

Why you need to let your home insurance provider know if you have a pet

If you’ve recently adopted a furry friend, you’ve probably already sorted out your pet insurance, but did you know you need to let your home and contents insurance provider know about your new addition to the family?

Ultimately, if you don’t inform your provider, if your bundle of fluff were to cause damage to your home, it could invalidate your claim – take a look at our tips on how you can make sure you’re insured against any damage caused by pets.

Brought to you by the home insurance experts at comparethemarket.com.

Methodology

FOI requests for the number of noise nuisance complaints regarding "barking dogs" for the years 2017-2021 were made to all councils across the UK and Northern Ireland of which 229 responded within the statutory 20-day time period. 

The data from each council was cleaned and compiled into one data set. From here a pivot table was used to aggregate the values for councils with more than one ward or district, to provide an overall value for each council, for each year. 

Data from all 229 councils, with the total and average being calculated for each council. The councils were then ranked on the average number of complaints each year, from highest to lowest. If data was missing from a specific year an average was created based on the other provided information for that area. *Average number of annual ‘barking dog’ noise complaints calculated from data provided from councils between 2017 and 2021