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3 November 2023, 11:44 | Updated: 3 November 2023, 14:29
The joy of music isn’t just limited to an audience with two legs. Here are the best pieces of classical music, bound to get your dog’s tail wagging in delight.
It’s not a rare sight to spot a dog completely entranced by a piece of classical music: ears pricked, head tilted, tail wagging rapidly.
And they’ve also been known to sing howl along too – like this opera-loving hound.
So if you’re curious to know exactly what pieces your own four-legged friends might love to hear, wonder no more.
From J.S. Bark to Giacomo Pooch-ini, and other famous pet-loving composers, here are 15 dog-friendly pieces of classical music for your beloved pet.
It’s no secret that our canine companions are partial to a bone or two.
So is there a piece of music more appropriate than ‘Fossils’ from Saint-Saëns’ The Carnival of the Animals?
The fun, upbeat melody might, however, get your pooch a little *too* energised...
Saint-Saëns: Carnival of the Animals - Fossils
If ‘Fossils’ is a little too energetic for your furred friend, worry not. We have just the remedy, and it’s more Saint-Saëns.
‘The Swan’ is the perfect piece to help your charismatic canine feel a little more relaxed.
The graceful portrayal of rippling water through flowing chords, and the gorgeous cello melody that represents the swan gliding across the waves, will help them drift off to sleep, and might even slip their owners into a slumber too...
This performance of Camille Saint-Saëns’s 'The Swan' is hauntingly beautiful
Sometimes, a dog’s just gotta howl.
So instead of waiting for them to spontaneously burst into chorus, give them an operatic treat.
Just 30 seconds of ‘Nessun dorma’ will put your pooch-ini in their element (we had to) – like the Pavarotti-loving pup below.
Operatic dog duets perfectly with Luciano Pavarotti
Now for a moment of calm after all that howling excitement.
This serene piece by Florence Price should do the trick.
Originally written for the organ, this calming arrangement for cello and string orchestra is sure to sooth the soul and warm the heart, for us and for our four-legged friends.
Raphaela Gromes - Florence Price - Adoration
A symphonic fairytale featuring animals? Sounds like it’d be right up any pet’s street.
Now, a dog may not be able to understand the accompanying narration – but the instrumental storytelling of Peter trying to protect a duck, a cat and a bird from a threatening wolf is enough for a clever canine to keep up with the story.
Read more: A step-by-step guide to Peter and the Wolf
Prokofiev’s Peter & The Wolf with Alexander Armstrong and the London Mozart Players
For those stormy evenings spent in front of a crackling fire, a waltz is the perfect choice for an uplifting musical tonic.
The recognisable melody was also used in the 1959 Disney animated adaptation of the story, for the song ‘Once Upon a Dream’.
SLEEPING BEAUTY 'Waltz' Tchaikovsky - Finnish National Opera and Ballet
Some nights, it’s just hard to get your dog to settle.
Whether it’s booming fireworks disturbing the peace, or simply an excess of excitement leftover from walkies – we’ve got another comforting lullaby to add to the puppy playlist.
From an opera centred around a magical glowing bird, Stravinsky’s ‘Lullaby’ from The Firebird Suite also has a magical, warming feel to its rich instrumentation. Perfect for post-walk snoozes.
Stravinsky: The Firebird - Suite (1919) - 5. Berceuse
It’s one of our more sombre suggestions, but still a beautiful piece of music for any four-legged listener.
Sit back and enjoy a slice of simplicity with this Chopin favourite, and watch as it prompts a moment of stillness from even the most energetic pup.
Eric Lu – Prelude in E minor Op. 28 No. 4 (third stage)
A piece of music inspired by long walks through the countryside? It’s as enticing to any dog as those sacred walkies.
Bring nature inside the home with Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, and transport your four-legged friend to a cheerful scene of freshly cut grass, burbling streams and an abundance of tennis balls to catch.
But be warned, Beethoven’s piece could cause your pup to start scratching at the back door...
Beethoven: 6. Sinfonie (»Pastorale«) ∙ hr-Sinfonieorchester ∙ Andrés Orozco-Estrada
We guarantee your furry friend will go from barking to Bach-ing with this beautiful air.
After a busy day of chasing squirrels and dashing through puddles, there’s no better way to help your pup settle down for the evening than giving this a listen.
So get comfy and enjoy one of the Baroque composer’s most soothing melodies...
Air on the G String (Suite No. 3, BWV 1068) J. S. Bach, original instruments
One of many well-known dog-loving composers, Ethel Smyth was the proud owner of a large, apparently unruly St Bernard cross called Marco.
Tchaikovsky himself described the pair as ‘inseparable’ in a diary entry after meeting Smyth, later signing a letter to his fellow composer: “P.S. I hope your dear dog is faring well!”
One of Smyth’s later works, written as she approached her 70s, the double concerto is a lush orchestral work with its solo horn lending a pastoral, countryside mood.
It’s the perfect way to relax and put your feet up, pup by your side, after a long walk together.
Ethel Smyth: Concerto for Violin, Horn and Orchestra (1927)
The love and admiration we humans have for our four-legged companions can often be hard to put into words. Which is maybe why Elgar decided to express it through music.
The eleventh variation in the Enigma Variations supposedly depicts George Sinclair’s (who at the time was the organist at Hereford Cathedral) bulldog, Dan, after it fell into the River Wye, paddled up stream to find a landing place, and then barked on landing.
Elgar ~ Enigma Variations - XI
Elgar didn’t just write music for other people’s dogs. In fact, one of his final works was dedicated to his own beloved cairn terrier, Mina.
A renowned dog lover, Elgar hated to be apart from his pets and would even be sure to call them when he had to stay away from home, so they could still hear his voice.
We like to imagine Elgar might have played, or even danced, with Mina to this heart-warming waltz, written just for her.
Elgar wasn’t the only composer to dedicate a waltz to a dog. Chopin’s Waltz in D flat major, most often known as the ‘Minute’ waltz, is also titled ‘Valse du petit chien’, or ‘Waltz of the puppy’.
You can just imagine a playful pup tumbling around with his giant puppy paws he has yet to grow into, and those affectionate nips from those lovely little puppy teeth.
Lang Lang - Chopin Minute Waltz Op. 64 No. 1
You couldn’t make a list of classical music for dogs without including one of the most notorious dog-lovers of them all: George Gershwin.
His jazzy interlude ‘Promenade – Walking the Dog’ is a musical re-telling of that daily journey that every owner knows well.
A jaunty little stroll with a happy pup is transformed by all the exciting new sights, smells, and animal pals you find along the way.
Gershwin’s piece was originally written as part of the score to the 1937 film Shall We Dance, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, before being published by itself in 1960.
George Gershwin | Promenade - Walking The Dog (1937) I Sebastian Manz & Friends