Why do German Shepherds howl?

Why Do German Shepherds Truly Howl? (In-Depth Review)

Did you hear your, or any other German Shepherd how they howl, and now you wonder, why German Shepherds howl? Are they trying to tell us something? Is this normal behavior for German Shepherds? If you want to know the answer to this question, then stay with us!

In this article, you will find all the answers to your questions (even the real answer to why German Shepherds howl when they hear sirens).

But before we take a deep dive into this topic, let’s lee why German Shepherds howl in general.

German Shepherd howling has a couple of different meanings, and these dogs will howl when they are injured, sick, have separation anxiety, defend their territory, or communicate. Also, German Shepherd will howl when they are sad, or they want you to be near them, so you can together fight against loneliness. 

This dog breed is extremely bonded to their pack (family), and the most common reason why German Shepherds howl, it’s because of loneliness.

Why German Shepherd howling

If you notice that your German Shepherd howl for a long period of time, make sure that everything is fine with your dog.

Can my German Shepherd howl?

Let’s be honest, with this one: German Shepherds look so cool when they howl, but only when they are howling for non-negative reasons (injury, sadness, etc.). But can every German Shepherd howl? Can your German Shepherd howl? The answer is yes, and no.

All German Shepherds can howl, but some German Shepherds are simply not interested in that, they have a different personality, and that’s absolutely fine. If your German Shepherd doesn’t howl, you shouldn't need to be concerned because you can always teach him that cool trick! 

One of the best ways to teach your German Shepherd how to howl is to play on the phone “wolves howling”, and they will probably start to imitate them! Once he starts howling, reward him with the high-quality treat, and say a keyword for that command (usually people say “howl”).

Repetition here is the key! If you want to teach your German Shepherd any command, repetition is the best practice. Don’t give up after only one try.

Now, let’s see that the real answer to the question of million dollars, why do German Shepherds howl at sirens?

Why do German Shepherds howl at sirens?

If you’re a proud German Shepherd owner, you probably know that almost all German Shepherds will start howling when they hear the sound of sirens. 

But why?! Are the sirens too loud for them? Does this blasting loud sound can hurt the ears of the dog?

The short answer is no.

Ask yourself, “do I enjoy the blasting sound of sirens?”. Of course not! Your German Shepherd dog doesn't enjoy it either. 

Sirens are pretty loud, but they can’t hurt the ears of your German Shepherd dog. In fact, most GSD owners catch their dogs how they are wagging their tails while they are howling. So why then do German Shepherds howl at sirens when they can’t hurt them?

One word, wolves. As we know, all dogs originate from domesticated wolves. It is believed that the first dog on this planet originated more than 31,700 years ago! 

Scientists have been found that wolves howling have usually two meanings 

  1. I’m lonely 
  2. Go away

The howling of a German Shepherd after hearing the sound of a siren means “go away!”. Most German Shepherds are confused when they hear the sound of sirens, and they want to make that noise go away. German Shepherds don't howl at sirens because their ears hurt, and if you heard that, this is probably a myth.

10 reasons why German Shepherds howl

Did you think that sirens are the only reason why German Shepherds howl? Then you’re wrong! 

We had prepared something special for you, and that’s the most 10 common reason why German Shepherds howl. It’s time to discover why German Shepherds howl! 

10 common reasons why German Shepherds howl:

  1. Vocal communication
  2. Territorial presence
  3. Pack Separation Anxiety
  4. Owner Separation Anxiety
  5. Medical issues
  6. Upset or irritation
  7. High-pitched noises or sounds
  8. Attention seeking
  9. Success and excitement
  10. Isolation distress

Now, it’s time to learn more about German Shepherd howling and the causes for that behavior.

1. Vocal communication

The first dog is thought to have originated just over 31,700 years ago. People from that time have realized that wolves can be loyal friends and good protectors. Having a friend like a wolf by your side during this time was crucial to survival.

In time, some wolves evolved and became very social and calm pets, dogs. In nature, a wolf’s howl is a natural way of vocal communication with other wolves and animals. So, if you hear your German Shepherd or any other dog, how he is howl, have in mind that he is communicating with something or someone. This is something that they have learned from distant ancestors, wolves.

2.Territorial presence

Territorial conduct is another characteristic that wolves passed down to German Shepherds and all other dogs. Dogs, like wolves, live in packs, and they will do anything to protect their territory and family.

When they see a dog from another pack approaching their territory, they howl to warn that dog as well as their own pack members.

Dogs can also protect their pack from the "things", such as cars, drones, bicycles, and other fast-moving and slow-moving objects. Now you know why dogs chase innocent bicycles and cars!

3. Pack separation anxiety

German Shepherds are pack animals by nature, and they can suffer from separation anxiety. Their howl can mean "I am here, where are you?".

A good example of this behavior is unfortunately strayed dogs. They often howl, in order to find their pack. Dogs don't love the single life, and they are very social animals, and because of that, most stray dogs moving in the packs.

Separation anxiety can be a nightmare for every dog owner, and during the global pandemic (COVID-19), the number of dogs with separation anxiety has just increased.

It's important to teach your German Shepherd how to spend his time without your family. This is something that you should not ignore, and if you can't beat the separation anxiety of your dog alone, ask for professional help.

German Shepherd separation anxiety

Also, if your family doesn't spend enough time with your dog, it's time to change that, and become a more responsible family. If your family doesn't have enough time for your German Shepherd, find someone who will take care of him.

4. Owner separation anxiety

If they can, they would be with us during the whole day, 24/7, but unfortunately, life isn't easy and we need to work and take care of other things.

Teaching your German Shepherd to spend his time without you is crucial, and if you skip that part, your German Shepherd can get separation anxiety.

German Shepherds are attached to their families and owners, and howling can be a sign of separation anxiety. In order to beat the separation anxiety of your German Shepherd, you need to start teaching your dog how to spend his time without you. If you don't know where to start, ask for professional help.

5. Medical issue

Sometimes, German Shepherd howling is a sign of some medical issues, such as disease or injury.

If your GSD is howling often, ensure he or she isn't sick and that no physical injuries have occurred. If the dog appears to have any noticeable injuries, you should take him to the veterinarian.

Please do not ignore any sign of medical issues, because he or she is maybe in huge pain.

6. Upset or irritation

The other reason why your German Shepherd may howl, it's because he is annoyed or sad. Luckily for us, you can easily notice when your German Shepherd is sad. If your dog is sad, then it's time to change some things, and make sure why he, or she, is sad.

Sometimes German Shepherds are sad because we don't spend enough time with them, sometimes because they can't find their favorite toy, or sometimes is because of a lack of mental or physical stimulation. It is up to us to find out why our German Shepherd is sad and to help him.

Also, this dog breed can start howling when they are annoyed. The perfect example of this situation is musical instruments which produce irritating noise for them.

7. High-pitched noises or sounds

If you play, or you make, a howling sound, it's possible that your German Shepherd will start "imitating" you and start howling. But your GSD will not start howling only then.

He or she may also start howling when they hear other dogs how he is howling, or when they hear any high-pitch sounds, such as ambulance or fire truck sirens.

8. Attention seeking

German Shepherd is really smart, in fact, they are the third most intelligent dog on the Earth, and they will do anything to grab your attention!

If you do not spend a lot of time with your dog, and they lack physical and mental exercise, they will start finding a way how to grab your attention.

This behavior can be really bad for you, and for them, and if you don't react immediately, it will be only worse. Please be responsible, and pay attention to your German Shepherd dog.

9. Success and Excitement

When your German Shepherd is super excited, he will usually do these three things: run like a crazy, bark, and howl. If you didn't know, German Shepherds can howl when they are excited, or when they achieve something. They can also enjoy things as we do!

You had probably noticed that when you go on the walk that your German Shepherd is super excited, or when you play with him and his favorite toy.

This is something natural, and isn't bad at all! If your German Shepherd howl because he is too excited, do not interrupt him, just enjoy with him!

10. Isolation distress

If your German Shepherd is left alone for a long time, he or she may feel isolated and can develop some "unusual" habits. Have you ever left your German Shepherd home alone and then returned to find that he or she had destroyed furniture, soiled the carpet, and dug too many holes in the yard?

Isolation anxiety can affect all dogs, and if they are left alone for a longer period of time, they will start howling and acting in unexpected ways. If your German Shepherd is consistent alone for a long period of time, find someone who can check him during the day.

Do German Shepherds howl like wolves?

The wolf is a distant ancestor of the German Shepherd, so their howling is very similar. Unlike German Shepherd, wolves howl more often, in order to communicate with other members of their pack, Wolves also can howl longer and louder than German Shepherds, and that's absolutely normal because they're wild animals.

Can German Shepherds howl like a wolf

Do female German Shepherds howl?

A female German Shepherd dog can also how like a female German Shepherd, but the tone of howling is different, and the male can howl louder. When you compare males and females, usually males are those ones who will howl more often. 

Male will howl more often because they are more territorial and aggressive, and they want to protect their pack, at all costs.

Does the German Shepherd howl a lot?

This usually depends on the place where is the German Shepherd. If the German Shepherd is in a quiet environment, where there is not much noise, distraction, and stray dogs, your German Shepherd will howl almost never. With proper training, enough exercise, and daily walks, your dog will howl much less.

Why do German Shepherds howl at night?

The most common reason for a German Shepherd howling at night is that it is anxious, specifically separation anxiety. Your GSD's howling is a means of calling out to you and looking for your attention. This type of behavior is especially common in puppies or dogs who have recently been adopted.

Maybe your German Shepherd doesn't like the idea of being alone all night, for long hours. Maybe they are still adjusting to their new surroundings and routine.

Is it normal for German Shepherds to whine?

Howling is normal behavior for all German Shepherds since this is their way of vocal communication. Howling means that they are calling us to be with them, to see something, to help them. Howling also can be a sign of territorial protection, if they notice other dogs or humans in their territory.


So, in the end, is the howling good or bad

Howling is normal behavior for German Shepherds, and we should care more about what caused them to howl, instead of howling. 

Howling is the main way dogs communicate, and we should always try to understand what our German Shepherd is trying to tell us.

Spend time with your German Shepherd, walk with them, train, play, don’t skip vet checks, and the howling of your German Shepherd will be at a minimum, and only when he, or she, is too excited!

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