Why do dogs howl? The domestic origin of an ancestral call

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Why do dogs howl? The domestic origin of an ancestral call

On more than one occasion and throughout our lives, we have all wondered why dogs howl. That characteristic sound produced by our pets in specific situations and that denotes both a sense of intrigue and an ancestral call to action.

Their origin comes from the genetic vestige they have inherited from their wolf ancestors, however, given their adaptation to the modern world and their human domestication, their motives have been derived towards causes related to sentiment and communication. It is a gesture more frequent in older dog breeds such as Siberian wolves, Samoyeds, Huskies, and Czechoslovakian dogs.

2 important keys to understand why dogs howl

Their unique defense mechanism is usually complemented by prolonged howling and barking when they detect the presence of an unknown person within their territory. When threatened, and unable to prevent access to the intruder, the howling reactions seek to communicate the danger to the other dogs present so that the intrusion can be stopped collectively.

Another reason is the dogs’ need to be reunited with their family clan, in nature this often expresses joy after an extended period of solitude. In the domestic sphere, it is common to observe howling after the master returns home after a long trip or a long day at work.

Canine howl as an alarm signal and indicator of mimicry

The howl will therefore only express joy depending on the context within which it is placed, instinctively stemming from events associated with trauma, or important sources of physical pain for them. It thus becomes a tool for the expression of grief and anguish.

Among the most common causes for understanding why dogs howl, research highlights the frequency of repetition of high-pitched sounds. During the winter season, the alpha wolf would emit a certain sound that the other members of the clan would repeat. In the home this instinct, called mimetic allele behavior, survives by replicating emissions from sirens and bugles.

Science confirms the relationship between howling with strong feelings: Prolonged anxiety and extreme joy

The multiple scientific data provided by different researches yield even more important information about this communication mechanism: The particular identification. It is known that despite occupying a very similar sound range, each dog in general is capable of emitting a very different type of howl, with which in times of emergency the clan is able to identify the lost member.

Since dogs are social animals, the howl can be used in moments of loneliness, such as when they are lost or when they are left alone at home. In the opposite case, joy can be a motive for understanding why dogs howl when it is channeled as a howl after the cessation of a conflict with a similar specimen, after the discovery of novel objects for its perspective or even when it just wants to attract the attention of the master.