What does a German cow say?
How about a bird flying around in Berlin?
Would you believe that when you make animal sounds, they actually are pronounced and written differently in German?
What’s the difference between this list and the others you may stumble upon across the Internet? This roundup of German animal sounds categorizes each of the sounds into which animals use them. For example, you may wonder about the different types of sounds made by a bird, so we cover ten of them.
It’s also helpful to learn other components that you may end up using while speaking about animals, like verbs for making an animal sound or how to say the type of animal in German.
All of your German animal sound needs are covered here, so keep reading to learn about the birds, bees and everything in between.
Beyond the Fun, Why Learn German Animal Sounds?
Yes, learning how to say the sounds in “Old MacDonald” is a fun task, but what other reasons do you have to remember German animal sounds for your learning process?
You’ll notice a surprising amount of times where you might have to use an animal sound to communicate with a German native. Let’s say you can’t think of what the word for steak is at a restaurant. Mooing is another alternative.
In addition, making animal noises is a fun and easy way for you to incorporate the learning process in with your children. Also, many German books, movies and TV shows use animal sounds, so you won’t be able to understand them unless you know what they sound and look like.
With that, let’s start making some animal sounds!
31 Animal Sounds in German: Can You Meow, Buzz and Chirp in Deutsche?
1. Cow — muh (moo)
Classic cow mooing sounds exactly the same when spoken, but the spelling changes a bit. In German you would spell it as muh, and in English you spell it as “moo.”
It’s also worth mentioning that a German cow is called eine Kuh, with a group of cows called eine Herde. If you need to use the moo sound in a sentence, as a verb, the word muhen is what you’re looking for.
2. Cow — blöken (bleating)
Bleating isn’t exactly a cow sound that people are used to practicing themselves, but it’s an essential part of a cow’s vocabulary. The word blöken represents a low bleating tone.
3. Dog — wau wau (bow-wow)
In order to give off the bow-wow sound of a dog, simply remove the b’s and replace them with w’s. That turns it into wau wau. The word dog is also helpful to know when matching up animal sounds, so you can say dog with the German word der Hund. As a bonus tip, a pack of dogs is called a Hundemeute.
4. Dog — wuf wuf (woof woof)
A woof has a similar sound in German and English, but the spelling changes to wuf wuf.
5. Dog — knurren (growl)
A growl noise isn’t reserved just for a dog, so you can use it for anything from wolves to bears. Knurren is the proper sound to represent that fierce growl. The interesting part about this word is that it works for both the verb and the sound.
6. Dog — jaulen (howl)
Once again, a howl is also possible from other animals, but the sound comes out as jaulen in German. You’ll notice that this word works as a verb as well.
7. Dog — bellen (bark)
The bark sound is possibly the most common noise you hear come out of your lovable dog friend, and in German you would hear a dog use the sound bellen. Although bellen works as a verb, it’s somewhat interchangeable with the bow-wow or woof woof noises.
8. Dog — kläffen (yap)
If your dog’s in distress she may give out a yap, and a German pooch would use the kläffen sound. Once again, the kläffen sounds fits in a sentence as a verb.
9. Cat — miau (meow)
Meow sounds exactly the same in German as it does in English, but you spell it as miau. A cat, or eine Katze in German, can be found in a group of cats, which is considered a clowder in English; however it has no direct translation in German.
10. Cat — schnurren (purr)
Since cats generally only make two sounds, the second one is a purr. The purr sound is spelled schnurren in German.
11. Bee — brummen or summen (buzzing)
What does a German bee sound like? A buzz is what you would call it in English, but the words brummen or summen work equally well for those black and yellow flyers in the heart of Germany. To talk about a bee in German, you would say eine Biene, while a bee colony is called a Bienenvolk.
12. Bird — tschilpen, zirpen or zwitschern (chirp)
Birds are fun for learning, because they produce a wide range of unique sounds. To start, a chirp has three options for you when trying to make the sound in German: tschilpen, zirpen or zwitschern. To say or write about a generic bird, use der Vogel. A flock of birds is called a Vogelschwarm.
13. Bird — gack gack (cluck cluck)
Various birds make the cluck cluck sound, but it may fall into the duck or goose families. This is an interesting one, because it looks and sounds nothing like the English version. Go with gack gack for the German cluck cluck.
14. Bird – pfeifen (whistling)
Do you hear that whistle? It’s a German bird speaking to its friends in the trees, yet your ears might deceive you because the sound comes out as pfeifen.
15. Bird — gurren (coo)
Coo is mainly reserved for doves, but quite a few birds have similar tones. If you spot a dove flying away from a wedding in Germany, you’d say that it’s making a gurren sound. To mention a dove in German, say eine Taube.
16. Rooster — kikeriki (cock-a-doodle-doo)
The rooster is a mainstay on farms in many countries, but how does that pesky bird wake people up in Germany? The Germans hear it as kikeriki. Ein Hahn serves as the best way to talk about a rooster in German.
17. Duck — quaken (quack)
Ducks are birds too, and their famous quacks comes out as quaken in German. Many duck species exist, but your best bet is to use eine Ente when referring to our duck friends.
18. Crow — krähen (crow)
Crows, the blackened scavenger birds, have a signature sound that goes like this: krähen. A crow is called eine Krähe when speaking in German. With one of the scarier group names, a collection of crows is called a murder, which comes out as Krähenschwarm for the Germans.
19. Cuckoo bird — kuckuck (cuckoo)
A cuckoo bird provides a fairly recognizable sound, yet the pronunciation adds a “k” to the end in German, pronounced kuckuck. Luckily for you, the actual cuckoo bird is spelled the same as the sound, except you capitalize the first letter: der Kuckuck.
20. Chicks — piep piep (peep peep)
A peep peep noise may be produced by baby birds, such as chicks or finches. You don’t have to worry about this one much, because the sound is the same. However, the spelling turns to piep piep. Also, Jungvögel is the proper way to say baby birds.
21. Goose — schnattern (gaggle)
Geese make funny noises, and that doesn’t change in Germany. A gaggle sounds like schnattern. Say or write eine Gans when referring to an individual goose.
22. Owl — schreien or rufen (hoot)
When walking around at night you may have the privilege of hearing from those stereotypically wise owls. A hoot is represented as either schreien or rufen. Eine Eule is the best term when talking about an owl, and although most owls live solitary lives, a group is called a parliament. The direct translation for that in German is Parlament.
23. Parrot — krächzen (squawk)
Ein Papagei (a parrot) may let out a loud krächzen (squawk,) but strangely enough a group of parrots is considered a pandemonium, so that comes out to Pandämonium in German.
24. Frogs and toads — quaken (croak)
When hearing a quaken (croak) in a lake, you can expect a frog or toad to be nearby. Not only that, but you can call them by their proper names in German: ein Frosch (a frog) and eine Kröte (a toad).
25. Horse — wiehern (neigh)
Ein Pferd (a horse) lets out a beautiful wiehern (neigh).
26. Horse — iaah (hee haw)
You may also hear the goofy-sounding iaah (hee haw).
27. Pig — schnauben (snort)
Ein Schwein (a pig) provides another combination of sounds that makes it entertaining and useful while learning about German. To start, the snort sound is presented as schnauben.
28. Pig — quieksen (squeal)
Pigs squeal when they’re afraid, so to represent that you can use the quieksen sound.
29. Pig — grunzen (grunt)
Since pigs make so many noises, it’s worth mentioning that many of these sounds can be used for other animals as well. That stated, the grunt we often hear from pigs sounds like grunzen, which is useful as a verb as well.
30. Pig — grunz grunz (oink oink)
Make a quick modification of the grunt sound and you have the classic pig grunz grunz (oink oink).
31. Big cat or bear — brüllen or brummen (roar)
The roar is not only reserved for one animal, but while wandering around in the forest or in the mountains you may have the chance to hear a lion, bear or tiger let one out. In that case, the German sound for roar is either brüllen or brummen. Also, a lion is called ein Löwe, a tiger is ein Tiger and a bear is ein Bär.
From a dog’s bark to a lion’s roar, we’ve touched on some of the most common German animal sounds for you to have fun with your kids, joke around with your friends and even talk to animals. Just don’t start making the noises while at work!
And One More Thing…
Animal sounds are just one detail in the vast, complex sea that is real-life German.
That’s why you need a reliable source of engaging native German material to cover the rest.
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