How to create the voice of a talking dog?

I haven't much experience working with voices and I would need a bit of help and suggestions with this one.

One of my clients wants to do a TV ad where the main character is a Scottish Terrier. The dog will be animated in 2D and the surroundings will be 3D. We will find the usual music, voice over and sound design to support the visuals.

They also want to make the dog talk. My first ideas are to ask a person with a strong Scottish accent to impersonate the dog. Then with some phase distortion, pitch shifting and eq I would hopefully make it more interesting. Eventually I would layer the voice with some recordings of dogs such as 'rrhhhh' to try to make it more "real". My client really insists on this point: the dog needs to sound real, as if the dog was really speaking.

My questions are the following:
- Do you know any material I could watch and listen to as a reference? (I'm thinking of the Lady and the Tramp)
- Is there any specific things I need to know when recording the voice? Anything I need to tell the voice artist? Any direction?
- How does the 'phase distortion+pitch shifting+eq+layer with real dog sounds' combo sound like? Would it be worth experimenting with other things?

I'm really excited as it's the first time I am going to create a character's voice which should have some human traits in an animal way. I have a bit of time for research and experimentation, and I am really open to any suggestion.


In my experience you should warn your client about the fact that there is no such thing as a talking dog, and there is no way of making it "real" sounding. But you can try something creative and cartoon like. Shop in different agencies for a voice that sounds "natural" and is willing to do this gig more than once, because in the likely event that this character becomes famous you will want your voice talent to be available and be able to easily do the VO and not sound different than the last time.

Depending on the nature of the character, you could for example make it sound nasal by boosting the proper frecuencies. That is a little trick I used once in a tv commercial of a turtle with a flu.

Start watching cartoons again and the ideas will naturally come to you. good


A dog´s snout is much longer than a human mouth, so, when we are faking dog noises (but not spoken voice), we use some kind of funnel, formed only by hands or by some cardboard. With a little pitchdown it looses the "human touch".


First I would try to produce the dog-sounds myself to get a feel for how to communicate my needs to the talent and where the challenges are.
Then I would choose some real dogs that will fit the dog (size, performance, etc.) on screen and would play it for the talent, so that she/he can mimic it. Doing that you get a greater variety of sounds than just using the talents imagination of how a dog sounds. You also can bark together with the talent as if you have a "dog-conversation". It helps a lot.

Besides using tubes and pitch shifting I also would consider editing to make it sound more "real". Find human and real dog-sounds that sound similar (frequency, character) and edit them, e.g. the inhaling sound comes from a dog followed by a processed human voice and the exhaling with barking is a real dog again.
Even with a single bark you can combine dog and human elements, vertical and horizontal.


from sound design list