A-oooooo! Why Do Dogs Howl?

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Dog howlingDogs use vocalization to express all kinds of emotions. Yips, barks, muffled snorts and even sneezes all have meanings that the dog is trying to express. Try hiding a tasty treat in your closed fist and your dog will let you know just how he feels about that. The most primal, hair-raising sound the dog makes comes from deep in his throat, when he holds his nose high, purses his lips and howls like a wolf. Indeed, dogs get their habit for howling from their closest ancestor, the gray wolf. What does it mean when dogs howl? Read on to learn more about dogs that howl and find out more.

Similarities Between Dogs and Wolves

In evolutionary terms, pet dogs are separated from wolves by mere minutes. Our Pomeranians and poodles still retain many wild instincts from their tougher ancestors. If your dog howls, digs in the yard or steals your socks, you can probably blame the wolf. Or, just sing along.

Why Dogs Howl?

Wolves howl in groups to warn a rival pack about territory boundaries and to beckon home pack members that venture from the den to hunt. Both the timbre and volume of howling carries much further than barking, so a wayward wolf can find his way back to the pack by following the call.

Can All Dogs Howl?

Domestic dogs are a member of genus Canis that forms part of the wolf-like canids. As a result, all dogs have wolve-like behaviors but some are a bit more vocal than others. Dog breeds that howl like wolves include Alaskan Malamutes, American Eskimo Dogs, Beagles, Bloodhounds, Coonhounds, Dachshunds, Foxhounds, Huskies, and other traditional hunting dogs.

Why Do Dogs Howl At Sirens?

With enough prompting, most dogs will howl along with sustained noises like sirens, which mimic the low-to-high sound of a classic howl. You might coax your dog to sing along with you if you hold certain notes in your favorite song, too. This type of howling might be akin to cheerleading, a common practice among wolves that involves short duration howls, yips and yodels meant to pump up the pack before a hunt.

Why Do Dogs Howl At Night?

Howling in pet dogs can indicate separation anxiety or loneliness. This may explain why dogs howl at night more than during the day. The next time you go out to dinner or to a late movie, circle around the block and take a listen in front of your house. If you hear a low-pitched wailing, your dog may just be missing you and trying to call you back home as his wolf cousins would do.

Do All Dogs Howl Like Wolves?

Hound breeds like beagles and basset hounds hardly need a stage to bust out their best vocal performance. Part of the reason these breeds love to vocalize is their hunting function. Their big voices tell a hunter they have treed their prey or trapped it in a burrow. Breeds that look much like wolves tend to use their vocal skills too, like Siberian huskies, malamutes, and any sled dog mix. These working dogs have the adventurous trait of wanting to see what is over that next hill, and since they often live in groups with other like-minded dogs, howling becomes a bonding activity between them.

Video: Wolves Howl Like Dogs

Here is a video of a wolf howling. Notice the body language and the upright position of the wolf’s nose. The breeds mentioned above howl similarly to this wolf.

What Emotion Is Expressed When My Dog Howls?

All howling is not sad, despite how it may sound to our ears. Dogs express joy by howling, too. They may tilt their noses up and howl when they see a best pal at the dog park, or to announce the arrival of a favorite friend or college kid returning home for spring break, like the human version of “Woo hoo!!” when pizza delivery arrives.

Howling Beliefs In Egypt

The belief that dogs have supernatural or psychic abilities has a long history and is found in many cultures. In ancient Egypt, a howling dog was often thought to portend a death and was thought to be very bad luck. Anubis was worshipped as the god of the dead, and was depicted as having the head of a dog, so many believed that a dog that howled at night called a soul to the god Anubis.

Your Dog Barking Up The Wrong Tree?

If your dog is howling so much they should be on the next season of American Idol or The Voice? Don’t worry. There are remedies to help your dog keep an inside voice. You can try an online dog training course, a sonic collar, a no bark dog collar or a combination of all three. You can also learn more about why dogs bark to better understand what they might be trying to communicate.


Why do you think your dog howls?

About The Author:

Amy Robinson grew up watching Lassie movies and parlayed her passion for dog smarts into a twenty-two year dog training career. She is the creator of the award-winning Drool School DVD and lives with her husband and certified Therapy dog, Mac. You can read more about her on her personal blog at: www.DroolSchool.com

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January 22, 2020 8:31 pm

I have a dachshund named Fred who howls and or barks when Wheel of Fortune comes on! I’m not sure if he likes the show or hates it!! Nobody else I know ever heard of this before. Shows over and it’s nap time!! Probably pooped out from all the howling

Sully Chow Chow
January 4, 2020 8:33 pm

Isn’t okay to let the howl? My dog howls at sirens, he is a mixed breed but about 80 pounds and does some does have some type of hound in him according to his DNA test. This same mixed breed dog of mine howls in the morning and in the evening when my son’s Huskie is around, like they sound off in the morning and at night. I just let them go at it and then they seem content.

Melissa Hunter
December 2, 2019 8:59 pm

He howls only when we leave the dog park. So I believe its out of loneliness 🙁 Hes actually a very large black lab. I’ve never had a howling lab!

Norman Major
March 29, 2019 1:20 am

My siberian husky is 3 years old I got her from a breeder in Lakeland Florida beautiful white Siberian Husky she howls more than barking she has blue eyes

March 8, 2019 2:31 pm

Our beagle howls regularly but only when a commercial comes on TV. We have a list of about 20 commercials that cause her to howl. They seem to upset her so we turn the sound down and she stops. It may be the music but there is music on shows and movies also and she only howls at commercials. Maybe she just has good taste. I don’t like commercials either.

June 24, 2018 1:51 pm

Awesome wolf. My gosh I had no idea they were that large!

March 6, 2016 6:10 pm

I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. But, he howls a lot when he is alone at home. How to stop it?

My husband and I were thinking about taking him to ‘doggy school’, but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest ‘doggy school’ is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? Thank you!

July 23, 2016 9:04 am
Reply to  Rebecca

Try fostering a dog, then leave them alone and see if he no longer howls. If it works, adopt the dog, it is nice for a dog to have another dog for companionship.

November 30, 2017 10:48 pm
Reply to  Tammy

Hey Tammy can you tell me why my dog is howling and stopped barking he’s been doing it for like 3 days and I’ve been wondering cause he’s a grown dog and lives with 2 kids and 2 adults 1 of the adults are home all the time and he also lives with 1 old dog 2 chuhauhuas and his brother and none of them howl I’m very worried bout my dog can you please give me advice

January 17, 2020 10:26 pm
Reply to  Trinity

Trinity your dog may have an ailment, trying to let you know he/she is not feeling good.