Why Does My Dog Chatter Their Teeth? 7 Reasons

Written by Amber LaRock
Published: December 27, 2022
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Each dog comes with their own set of unique behaviors that they display from time to time. Though we fall in love with many of these adorable quirks, some will still have us scratching our heads in confusion. One of the strange behaviors that catch dog parents off guard is teeth chattering, especially when there is no chilly air to link it to.

Teeth chattering in dogs can be challenging to decipher, as it can be linked to both benign and serious underlying causes. While some dogs will chatter their teeth due to overwhelming emotions, others will develop this symptom due to serious illness. We want to help you better understand your teeth chattering dog, so let’s break down everything you need to know about this puzzling canine behavior!

Let’s get started!

Is Teeth Chattering Normal In Dogs?

Boston Terrier - Boston Terrier Teeth

While some dogs will chatter their teeth due to overwhelming emotions, others will develop this symptom due to serious illness.

©Roschetzky Photography/Shutterstock.com

If you notice that your canine companion is suddenly chattering their teeth, you may ask yourself, “is this behavior normal?” The answer to this question will vary from dog to dog, which is why it is so important to understand the many causes of this canine behavior. When teeth chattering in dogs occurs as a response to outside factors or stressful situations, then it is often considered completely normal. However, if their teeth chattering suddenly develops without any known trigger, then you will want to take this new behavior seriously. The only way to determine whether or not your dog’s teeth chattering is normal is by understanding the potential underlying causes, so let’s break them down in detail below!

7 Reasons Why Dogs Chatter Their Teeth

Ranging from a response to stress to underlying health complications, let’s list some of the most common reasons why dogs chatter their teeth below!

1. They Are Excited

Have you ever been so overwhelmed with excitement that you smile from ear to ear, clap your hands, or even jump up and down? Well, teeth chattering is a similar response to excitement in many furry friends. Some dogs will chatter their teeth each time their owners come home from being away, when they meet new people, and during other moments that fill them with joy. If your dog’s teeth chattering is reserved for their happiest moments, then this is likely completely normal for your pup.

2. They Are Scared Or Nervous

Have you ever experienced full body trembles or teeth chattering when you are nervous about something to come? Maybe you tremble before a big presentation or even chatter your teeth when waiting in the doctor’s office. Sometimes these feelings are difficult to manage, and our dogs can struggle with the same nervous trembles. Many dogs will experience full body shakes, teeth chattering, or even whining when they are scared or nervous. If your dog only chatters their teeth when they are in situations that makes them nervous, then this is likely a normal stress response for your dog.

3. They Are Stressed During Dog Interactions

If your dog struggles when interacting with other canine friends, then it is not unusual for their teeth to chatter during these moments. This is most common in dogs that are submissive when greeting other dogs, or those that have a lot of fear surrounding canine interactions. While this can be a normal stress response for your dog, it is typically a good idea to pull your stressed dog away from the interaction if they begin to chatter their teeth. This often means they are becoming overwhelmed, and they might be more inclined to snap or bite if they become too stressed.

4. They Are Cold

Just like you and I, our dogs can experience teeth chattering when they are in a cold environment. This is typically a sign that your dog is uncomfortable with the current temperature, and that it is time to offer them relief. If they are outside in the cold weather, then teeth chattering is typically a sign that it is time to bring them inside. If they are trembling in your chilly home, then we suggest offering them a snuggly blanket or considering a pet sweater. If you have a dog that is often becoming too cold in your home, then it may be a good idea to get them a heated dog bed!

5. They Smell Something Interesting

Have you noticed that your dog experiences teeth chattering when they are entranced in their sniffing? This is quite common in our canine companions, and is just a sign that they are utilizing each of their sniffing superpowers. Dogs have a powerful system known as the vomernasal organ that lies inside of their nasal cavity and opens up into the roof of their mouth. This organ helps to facilitate chemical communication of certain scents, and many dogs make strange faces when tapping into this impressive system. This is especially common when dogs are sniffing other dog’s butts!

6. They Are In Pain

Trembling is a common sign of pain in our beloved pups. Sometimes their full body trembling can even lead to teeth chattering, leading to even more concern among pet parents. Dogs can experience teeth chattering due to dental pain, back pain, sudden injuries, abdominal pain, and any other conditions that are causing them severe discomfort.

Pain in dogs can also lead to lethargy, a decrease in appetite, hiding away, sensitivity of certain body parts or regions, behavioral changes, and other strange symptoms. If your dog’s teeth chattering is accompanied by any other signs of pain, then we suggest reaching out to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

7. They Are Experiencing Neurological Symptoms

Sometimes teeth chattering in dogs is a result of an underlying neurological condition. Conditions like epilepsy or shaker syndrome can lead to abnormal trembling in the dog affected, and teeth chattering can even be due to certain types of seizures.

If this is the case for your dog, then their teeth chattering will typically occur at random times and will not be linked to any outside factors. Your dog may also experience confusion, disorientation, an unsteady gate, drooling, full body trembling, and even seizures. If you think your dog’s teeth chattering is actually a neurological symptom, then we suggest reaching out to your vet immediately.

Should I Be Worried About My Dog’s Teeth Chattering?

Dog, Happiness

As long as your dog’s teeth chattering is due to excitement, nervousness, sniffing, or cold temperatures, then there is typically nothing to worry about.


If you have never seen teeth chattering in your dog before, then you may be wondering if you should be worried about this behavior. Thankfully for most furry friends, teeth chattering is often tied to outside factors or overwhelming emotions. As long as you can link their teeth chattering to excitement, nervousness, sniffing, or cold temperatures, then there is typically nothing to worry about.

However, if you cannot find any underlying trigger or stimulus that could be causing your dog’s teeth chattering, then it is time to keep a close eye on them. Keep an eye out for any other strange symptoms or changes in behavior, and if you do notice any changes, then we suggest giving your vet a call. Once you explain your dog’s current symptoms and your concerns over the phone, they can determine whether or not your dog should be seen by a vet.

Final Thoughts

Teeth chattering in your furry friend might seem strange, but it is actually a common response to excitement or nervousness. Be sure to review the possible causes of dog teeth chattering that we discussed above, and to always reach out to your vet if you your dog’s teeth chattering is due to an underlying health complication.

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © PolyPloiid/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Amber LaRock is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics surrounding pet health and behavior. Amber is a Licensed Veterinary Technician with 12 years of experience in the field, and she holds a degree in veterinary technology that she earned in 2015. A resident of Chiang Mai, Thailand, Amber enjoys volunteering with animal rescues, reading, and taking care of her two cats.

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