Why Do Bears Woof?

September 2, 2012

When learning about bear culture, there's no better place than Bear Week in Provincetown, MA. Thousands of bears flood the magical town and there's lots of hair and fun to be had. Seeing as it was my first time at the infamous fur fest, I wanted to get to the bottom of one of the quintessential elements of the bear community: the woof. More specifically, why they do it. We took to the hirsute streets to find out if any one could help us discover the origins of the woof, and what we found out about people's feelings towards the woof was pretty surprising.

Take a look and see what we discovered with a video that just premiered on our Facebook page.

Like the video? Check out the extended footage on our Facebook page at http://mistr.me/FBxtraPBW.

Care to shed some more light on the subject? Let us know if the comments below if you know why bears woof.

Tags: Bear Week, WOOF, bears, Hairy, Provincetown, Ptown
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Post written by RobHeartsDH (View Author Profile)
About this author: Rob lives in Manhattan with his black pug Riley. When he’s not thinking about daddies, he enjoys writing, eating burritos, watching copious amounts of television, and thinking about his next meal.
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well i thoroughly enjoyed this blog post- partially because it was entertaining (and about a topic ive always wondered), and partially because rob is shirtless throughout most of it.

Rob's chest is entertaining. Other than that, ??? Music was louder than anybody's voice except one guy's "It's a mating call." I could not hear or understand anything else said.

I unfortunately couldnt follow the video because at the moment my internet connection is real slow & caused the video to start/stop. But I thought the term Woof meant that some one liked you when they said woof or if you liked some one, you said woof and that was meant as a compliment

Hey Rob, great reporting, especially shirtless!

Here is my understanding of why we "Woof" :

Say you are in a group of people you don't know (didn't want to call them strangers) and you find someone attractive.

You ask yourself: is he or isn't he a bear (nontraditional homosexual man)?

You would get near that person and simply let out a subtle "Woof." If he ignores you or he looks at you oddly and/or moves away from you, chances are he is not a bear and therefore not interested. BUT if he responds with a woof, it is like a "secret handshake" and you can strike up a conversation knowing you are both on the same page.

Only those of us who know about the woof "secret handshake" will understand.

That is my understanding when I first learned about the bear culture many years ago.

Wow. That's really interesting and makes sense. Do you think it's still relevant? Now it seems like bears are more mainstream and communicate their "bear" status using clothes or their beards.

Is the woof still relevant today? Hard telling from where I live. Possibly in more of the metropolitan areas but not in the backward/backwoods area I live in now. Actually, I have never tried this form of communication but it sounds like it would work!

It's a gay thing that's been going on a long time ,
I lived in NYC village and Chelsea before I was 19 yrs old and remember as far back 1979 we've been woofn at guys way as long as I can remember hanging out on Christoper St when a guy walked or the old fun times hanging out at the Ramrod , Spike and the Eagle
when a hot guy walked by you'd woof at him as a complement ,It's a dog thing that was derived from the saying "gay man in a bar are like dogs, when a hot guy walks in to the bar the other dogs circle them and bark and woof to show off to get notice and get their attention",,,,,that's how the woof started,,I was there!

Do they really "woof" at eachother, they can't say hello like a regular person..? Thankfully that point was addressed by some of the people in the video so that was heartening..

Actually I was going to slate the whole concept but having seen the video they all came across as great guys..Sadly I am smooth not remotely hairy so I cannot identify as a bear which mercifully negates me from ever saying "Woof"..I just wonder how many non hairy bears (smooth men of bulk) there are and do we need to form another sub group.

Nice video well presented..interesting if slightly silly point, that aside I enjoyed it..

Do not make yourself crazy over not being hairy. It used to be that a bear was merely hairy. Then it came to mean that a guy was hairy and fat, and the in-shape ones were called "muscle bears." When I lived in California the local bear organization elected someone "cub of the year" who was fat but totally hairless. I think today, bear means what you want it to mean, or what your crowd wants it to mean, or what the local bear group wants it to mean, and those could be three different things. So just pay attention, make friends, and don't worry about the labels.

Heck, I wouldn't worry about the smoothness either. I for one prefer smooth guys even though I tend to attract other chub/bears.

Great video with great 'visuals.' I think Built4sex nailed it about 'woofing' at each other. It's a sign of greeting AND approval and undoubtedly has the additional connotation of showing your readiness or desire for a possible sexual liaison with the 'woofee!' Ever since I've been in the Bear community (as an 'otter' which is a thin hairy bearded guy) the accepted general greeting has been a big hearty WOOF! For those here interested in other bearded men of all shapes and sizes, try Googling 'Society of Bearded Gentlemen'. It's a great site for showing off your pogonophilia or for quenching your appetite for masculine bearded MEN. Daddies with beards are the BEST! WOOF!

ahh... it's an old tale... goes back to a line by madeline kahn in 'young frankenstein'... gay/bear fans appropriated the word from her dialog with 'the monster' in the film... you know how much we love the camp scene:


yeah he is hot as H#$L !!!

sometimes i just think a hot guy is hot.

i dont care what you call him.

just send this rob guy over here.

no, he will not need his shirt at my house.


WOOF = Worth Only One Fuck :)

I've been out for almost 40 years, and I never could understand where the 'woof' came from when it had anything to do with a bear. I've never heard a bear go 'woof.' A growl, yes. Never a 'woof.' Growls and howls are for dogs or wolves. I've had guys 'woof' me, and I smiled and said thanks. I'd rather be howled or growled at.

According to Wikipedia, bears (the animals) do make a barking sound. So yes, bears woof.

liked it because of rob, shirtless and with a beard. i finally got to hear him speak. handsome with or without the fur. hi! and woof!

worth only one f--k...too funny....Woof.

Bears (the non-human ones) "huff" and "grunt," and sometimes combine them. The combination sounds a lot like a "woof." (If you do a web search on <bear huffing>, you'll find plenty written about it.) I'd always assumed the gay bear "woof" was a recognition of that, 'cause it shows up in nature documentaries all the time (btw, as far as I can tell, only cartoon bears growl, although real bears do roar), but the number of people who say "bears don't woof" makes me wonder if it was just random. (What makes it a less-than-ideal expression is that the non-human bears' huffs and grunts are threats, not signs of affection.)

Damn! The one year I had to miss "Bear Week" and handsome Rob is there... I am certain I that if Rob went shirtless down Commercial St. he got dozens of WOOF'S , GROWL's, BARK'S, and what ever other gutteral sound that one can muster that's a sound of passion and desire!
I am going to be in Provencetown, for another fun bear event, come the end of October, called "SPOOKY BEAR WEEKEND", Oct 26th thru 28th.....Holloween in P-town is wild, and Rob, If your attending, I have the perfect studded thong , harness, and black wings costume for you to wear. Think of how many WOOF'S that would generate!

I really don't like being "woofed" at. I'm not an animal. It is especially annoying when online and that is the only thing someone types to you. Can't we make complete sentences? I'm really not into the bear types - yea, I"m one of the different ones because I like smoother, younger and thinner guys than me.

I an understand the euphoria after having a 'good time' in Provincetown. It's easy to have an opinion based on the experience of 'a run'. However, I beg to differ on one point - I do not share your opinion that they are somehow 'friendlier'. It is my belief that bears are no more or less friendly than any other subculture of the gay community or the public at large for that matter. There are very biased ones, rude in not communicating when communicated to, many who have preferences according to their profiles I can best say eliminate racial groups, somewhat ageist (as I am!!), politically to the right as much as left, say degrading things about 'non-masculine' types, and sadly enough show an insensitivity to persons with HIV. I personally have not experienced that they are very much different than any other part of the gay community or much different than the public at large - except for their same sex preference - when it comes to the many life issues. And isn't that what is important, not just whooping it up on runs or pride parades?

you've raised a very good point. And for the most part I have to agree with you.

A woof is better than a grope... just sayin.

It will do when the International Bear Greeting would be challenging,
the IBG being a spray of semen in the beard ;-)

Hey Rob can I take a wiif and woof of you ? Your absowoofly gorgeous!

Very cool topic of discussion. Great Post Rob.

That was a great video. I really liked it a lot. Rob made me laugh and he is so damn cute.
What a great personality.
So Rob, if you are looking for a great boyfriend. Im here and waiting to hear from you.

Nice video and Rob you are a bear for sure. It was nice to see how Woof came about but I have to agreed that just coming up to someone and say "hi" is probably best.
Look foward to other stories and you look great Rob.

My GOD! i had to keep scrolling back and forth to prove to myself the guy of the video and the Rob of the blog were the same guy..... !

Oh....and the video was good as well

Is he not the cutest guy ever?
That being said, how is it that I have missed out on, what sounds like, the most amazing week ever? Note to self, plan for next year to meet the bears..

A woof is an alpha males response to a beta

Woof at Rob!! You are so beautiful, hot and sexy. And so cool. I love what you said about the bear community. I couldn't have said it better.

I've said it before..and it's already been said here...

Honestly...we are smarter than being known by one word....and one that has no meaning!!

your super hot, just saying. :)

I had always assumed the "woof" was the adapted from the "cat calls" made by blue collar men to women to greet, express physical attraction, and to get their attention. Good to know no one else knows how or why, either...

But, as the guys in the video expressed, "Use your words." Some of us like knowing that even if you're only into us physically, you can take the time out to at least introduce yourself. After all, we're not all perpetually living at the Meat Rack or the dunes on Fire Island.

In my opinion, an intro is better than a grope, being favorited by people you've never chatted with (still not sure why this happens), or limiting yourself to a response which could only be "Thanks." Intelligence, an ability to express oneself, and the ability to engage someone in a conversation are attractive qualities to all--bear or non-bear. Social skills are a necessity!

Take a chance. Say hello. It could mean the difference between not getting a response and meeting someone worth the little effort it took to type, "Hey. How's it going?". :-) Save the "woof" for after the private photos have been unlocked. ;-)

As I remember seeing it years ago, wasn't it "Wuf"? If you ever heard a bear amble through the woods the grunt kind of sounds "Wuf". Ever listen to the sounds a Man makes that is a true bear? Now, go find the meaning of Bear in the Gay subculture...

"Why Do Bears Woof?"

Passive stupidity

" so accepting of everyone of all different types" ??? Really? Bear411 is the only gay personals site I know of that rejects people based on not fitting a certain type. Just sayin....

Is this drivel really worth blogging about?

Friendlier? Having "grown up" on the bear scene due to my preference in men, I, rather quickly, realised that the bear scene is just as, if not more, unaccepting of diversity than one would immediately think. Which is confusing to me as the bear scene was BORN out of diversity. In the end, I came to the deflated conclusion that in my life, I have never seen such a big bunch of "real men", act so much like women! Obviously, I do not lump all bear-type men in this category, I have met many men that are truly good, fuzzy chested, beard ticklin' guys, and it is solely because of these men that I am thankful for my taste in men, but DAMN, there 'aint half some genus confusion going on!

For the topic of woofing, I can only point you to the clips of John Waters' "A Dirty Shame", on YouTube, who succeeds in showing how cringe-worthy I, and many men in the bear community, find it. And, yes, there are guys who actually act like this... *shudder*


Rob is hot! Would be the perfect bear for me!

WOOF! This Daddy thinks Rob is adorable.

Monosyllabic Messages

Thanks for the ‘sup?, the wink or the grope,
The woof or the oink of lascivious hope
That I might succumb to your carnal ambition
And send in return then my own proposition
With offer to travel or maybe to host
(Whichever location should please you the most),
Where we may engage in libidinous fun
Then be on our way when our coupling is done.

In telling you how I interpret your missive
I do not intend you to think me dismissive
But should you engage me in banter flirtatious
Suggest that you’d best be a bit more loquacious
For men of few words I can often resist
And it’s rare that one syllable leads to a tryst.

JPK 10/19/2012

I never woof..I've been known to do a Godzilla roar..but never at a guy I'm interested in..I've never consider myself as a bear. But beginning to see myself in that group..

im with you all, one can only dream of having this hottie for his own

The (supposed) origin of Woof

Possibly originating from Young Frankenstein directed by Mel Brooks

Madeline Khan used the term in the movie upon seeing what an enormous cock Frankenstein had. So its a term for 'i want', 'hot' etc. Pretty fitting for the bears ;)

to see the clip - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46AGWASyNgI