New animal cognition research has measured the musical preferences of our canine companions and reveals that domestic dogs prefer chart hits to classical concertos.

In collaboration with Sony, Dr Anna Wilkinson from the University of Lincoln led a study into the musical preferences of pet dogs. The research found that tunes with a higher tempo and stronger beat are more likely to get dogs’ tails wagging than calming classical music, with 62 per cent of the dogs observed preferring chart hits.

The Sony Music Preference in Domestic Dogs study was conducted by Dr Wilkinson alongside PhD student Natalia Albuquerque from the University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences.

They used two audio systems during the research to simultaneously play a selection of popular and classical music to the dogs, before documenting and comparing their reactions. Music was played from both speakers in pairs and the placement of the speaker, as well as the order of song combinations, was randomised to ensure an unbiased result. Stimuli included five famous classical songs, featuring composers such as Mozart and Pachelbel, as well as five famed chart artists from Elvis Presley and Martin Garrix to Justin Bieber and Beyoncé.


The study found a strong fondness of chart hits over well-known classical concertos, with almost two thirds of dogs spontaneously choosing to listen to modern music compared to only 38 per cent who chose classical. The researchers found that the dogs were more likely to spend time around the speaker playing upbeat chart hits than the one playing classical; suggesting they preferred listening to the high-tempo tunes with a strong beat.

Dr Anna Wilkinson, a specialist in animal cognition and member of the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB), said: “The research shows an interesting difference in musical preference between popular and classical music. When given ten choices between the music types, dogs consistently chose the Sony system which played popular music over the one playing classical.”