A Husky With an Italian Bark Has the Internet Dumbfounded — Can Pets Pick Up Regional Accents?

Bianca Piazza - Author

Nov. 28 2023, Published 11:25 a.m. ET

Close-up photo of a husky beside a photo of an orange tabby cat meowing on a bed
Source: aaronthehusky_/TikTok; phineasthecat/TikTok

There's something inherently entertaining about Pepe Le Pew, Warner Bros.'s French skunk, and Gidget, Taco Bell's Spanish-speaking Chihuahua. Unfortunately, both characters are riddled with controversy and are now considered ghosts of a less progressive time. But if an animal with an accent really tickles your fancy, pay attention to your cat's meow.

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Viral videos of a husky (a fairly talkative breed) with an Italian-sounding bark and an orange cat with a Scouse-sounding meow have taken the internet by storm. So, are we hearing what we want to hear, or can animals adopt regional accents?

Aerial photo of a cat lying on a map
Source: iStock
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Viral videos of pets with supposed accents have internet users confused.

September 2023 TikTok videos posted by Italian creator Antonia — better known as @aaronthehusky_ — are leaving TikTok users in awe, as her pooch's Italian-sounding bark makes us want to pinch our fingers and say "gabagool."

Take a look for yourself in the below TikTok.

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Antonia's videos bring to mind a certain cat, whose unique meow went viral in March 2023.

Phineas the cat's meow is strikingly reminiscent of a Liverpool accent. According to Irish Independent, Phineas has cerebellar hypoplasia, a neurodevelopmental condition; he also had fading kitten syndrome when he was younger.

However, Phineas' medical history has seemingly nothing to do with his unique meow. Check it out below.

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Aaron the husky lives in Italy, so there are grounds for his Italian barks. But Phineas the tabby doesn't live in the U.K.; he lives in Melbourne, Australia. What's going on here?

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Can animals have regional accents?

“In most species, communication appears to have a genetic basis,” Columbia University professor Darcy Kelley, an animal communication scholar, told The Washington Post. “Regional accents can only develop in the small number of species.”

The 2012 article mentioned a study that suggested macaque communication patterns are minimally affected by life experience and social interactions. However, white-crowned sparrows, dolphins, whales, hummingbirds, and bats have the ability to "learn new vocalizations."

Susanne Schötz, Reader in Phonetics at Lund University's Center for Languages and Literature and author of The Secret Language of Cats, told Sydsvenskan that "cats can imitate nuances in their owners' voices."

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Handsome little husky at veterinarian appointment closeup
Source: Getty Images

And though she recognizes that every cat is unique, her research shows little evidence that cats can have dialects.

"I'm currently looking at and comparing voices from 70 cats from Skåne, Stockholm and Östergötland," she said in 2019. "I still haven't found any significant differences."

As for dogs, a 2006 BBC News article highlighted a study that revealed dogs can have regional accents. As mentioned, a Liverpool-based dog may communicate with a "higher pitch" than others. Additionally, Scottish dogs often have "a lighter tone to their bark."

This explains Aaron the Husky's accent, but Phineas the orange tabby's Scouse meow may always be a mystery.

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