Why Do Dogs Howl?

Wolves use their distinctive, mournful howl to communicate with one another. The pitch and sustained duration of the howl makes the sound especially well-suited for traveling long distances. The characteristic upraised muzzle (“howling at the moon”) helps project the sound upward so it can travel farther. It’s estimated that a wolf howl can travel six or more miles. This unique sound is how a wolf pack, which may be separated from each other by great distances when hunting, identifies other members of the pack so they are able to reunite. Lone wolves may howl to greet one another or to find a mate, and each wolf’s howl is unique. Wolves also howl in unison to warn other packs of wolves away; their wavering chorus can make it difficult to identify individual wolves, leaving the impression of a larger group.

While dogs are more likely to bark, howling is also a form of communication used by dogs, which is not surprising, since dogs are descended from wolves.  The howl of a dog may also be used to communicate with other dogs over long distances. Dogs howl for a variety of reasons; some dogs howl as an instinctive response when they hear particular sounds that resemble a wolf howl such as certain notes on a piano, singing, or the sound of a siren. Some dogs howl when separated from their owner, because they are lonely, bored or anxious about being separated. Other dogs howl when the owner is around because he has learned this gets him attention. Not all dogs howl, but certain breeds such as hounds and Huskies are more likely to howl.

Howling may also indicate that your dog is in pain or ill. If your dog’s howling is a new behavior and you are not sure what triggered the howling, contact your veterinarian for advice.

About author

Abby Rosenberg

Abby Rosenberg is a PetMeds employee and long-time cat lover. She was a volunteer for several years at a local no-kill cats only rescue shelter. This has prepared her for her most challenging role to date: secretary, photographer, social coordinator and treat dispenser for Daisy, and Daisy’s sidekick Harley. Daisy is a dilute calico Devon Rex cat, and Harley is a “cow-cat” who was adopted from the shelter where Abby volunteered. You can also find Abby on Google+

There are 3 comments

  • alan says:

    that”s awesome news i didn’t know.great

  • Lynne says:

    My husky howls every night..I think it might be the coyotes that get him going. You can hear the coyotes howl and yip every night esp. after a kill.

  • […] who bark too much (they are bored or nervous or begging you for […]

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *