Why do dogs howl to music? Like the wolves they are descended from, domestic dogs use howling as a means of group communication. But why do some dogs howl when they hear music? Videos of dogs howling to music are definitely cute, but is there a scientific reason for why they do it? What is it about music that makes a dog howl? To answer that question, let’s go back to the beginning and look at what howling means for a social animal like the dog.
What’s With All The Howling?
Howling as a means of vocal communication has been studied in the Canidae family for many years. Canids like the wolf, coyote, jackal, and dog communicate socially through howling.
A classic study from the 1960s found that wolves are most likely to howl when they are isolated from the rest of their pack. One recent study has found that wolves tend to howl more when they are removed from pack members, or from other individuals they have a close relationship with.
These wolf studies on howling and pack separation certainly help explain why many dogs howl when they are left alone in the house when you are at work during the day.
Why else do dogs howl?
Behavior experts point to a few other reasons besides separation anxiety and the need to find absent members of the group. They also howl as a form of pack bonding when they are in physical or emotional distress, and they often howl to claim a territory as their own.
What dog breeds howl the most?
Have you noticed how many cute dog howling videos involve Siberian Huskies? There is a reason for this.
Dog experts report that the breeds most likely to howl are those that are genetically closest to their wolf ancestors— especially Huskies, Malamutes, and other “northern” breeds.
Of course, many dog breeds howl, including hunting dogs like hounds who are trained to howl (or “bay”) to let hunters know that they have tracked down prey animals.
Why do dogs howl to music?
Howling to music is closely linked to that bonding behavior. Hearing certain high-pitched sounds like music or a fire engine triggers the howling instinct in many dogs.
Scientists can’t say with certainty whether your dog thinks music (or a siren) is another dog. It may just be that certain sounds cause your dog to howl in response, whether it’s canine or not.
What kind of music makes dogs howl?
Is there such a thing as music that makes a dog howl? Are dogs more likely to respond to music that sounds like a howl?
There are certain types of music that can trigger howling more than others.
Noted dog behavior expert Stanley Coren reports that dogs are most likely to howl in response to wind instruments, and especially reed instruments, like the clarinet and saxophone.
Other common howling music? The violin and the human voice!
Studies on what types of music dogs like may also provide insight into what makes them howl.
One recent study found that shelter dogs became less stressed when listening to soft rock and reggae.
Dogs howling to music
The best part about answering the question, “Why do dogs howl to music?” is of course watching adorable videos of dogs howling to music!
Here’s a Shiba Inu howling to rap music. His owner reports that he only howls to this one song:
These two dogs share a taste for classical piano:
This pup seems to be sleeping, but can’t resist howling along when his human sister plays the flute:
And finally, how about an Alaskan Malamute howling to an acoustic version of Taylor Swift’s “Safe and Sound”:
Why do dogs howl to music?
Dogs howl to all kinds of music, from live singing and instrument playing to a wide range of recorded music.
Think of it as a compliment when your dog howls along to your music. It’s your dog’s way of communicating with and connecting to you, their family member.
We humans have strengthened our social bond through singing and playing music together for thousands of years. Our dogs have probably been howling along with us for just as long!
Does your dog howl to music? Tell us about your dog’s favorite music and what makes your dog sing in the comments below!
Our black lab howls anytime a Fleetwood Mac song comes on the radio. Any one of their songs and ONLY Fleetwood Mac
My dog sings to happy birthday!
We have a wonderful clock that plays a tune every hour, I set it back to Xmas songs yesterday and my chihuahua started singing like she did last year. Obviously only likes Xmas songs because it has been playing the other tunes all year and not a peep out of her. 😁
Mariza Gaona-Mancha says
My dog( puggle: pug/beagle), howls to Star Wars theme song and the scientist by Coldplay.
Andrea Moore says
My Granddog Flynn Ryder is a 2 year old Rat Terrier Australian Sheppard mix and loves to sing to The Steve Miller Band “The Joker” and this Christmas season we have learned that he also loves Eartha Kitts version of “Santa Baby”.
I just love hearing him sing!!
Julie St. Lawrence says
My 8 yr old sheltie only sings to the Branden concerto number 4.
My 5-year-old golden lab mix howls when I play cello, though she never howls when any other time, even when another dog howls. She LOVES anything with mostly A string and D string, like Song of the Wind, but will sing to anything.
My dog only howls to prince song!! Little red corvette and i would die 4 you and rasberry beret!! Its so strange only because i am a huge prince fan!! And he really trys to sing it!!🤣🤣 sometimes i think he is prince reincarnated!!
Lesley Fitzsimmons says
Our 10 month old mini Daschund howls everytime Kare Bush’s running up the hill confess on, but she looks distressed and clambers all over you licking you
My 1 year old chihuahua mix likes to howl to the Golden Girl theme song
Bonnie Jaillet says
When my husband and I sing in harmony, our Chihuahua mix joins in by jumping between us on the couch, and howling with us!
What’s His Name says
3yo “English Cream” Golden Retriever howls only to the guitar solos in David Gilmour’s “Comfortably Numb”. His ears perk up with the opening riff, and after that, all howl breaks loose.
Cathy Myers says
My dog sings to a number of songs. He always looks at me for my reaction. If I praise him or clap, he’ll keep singing until I stop, even if the song has long ended. If I try to harmonize with him, he’ll adjust his notes to mine.
I have a staffy/lab cross and she loves to sing. She has about 20 songs she’ll repeatedly sings to – I even made her a Spotify playlist! She does prefer rock and reggae but sings to some dance music too. Her favourite is Dreams by Fleetwood Mac.
Dina Lawless says
My chihuahua/rat terrier goes crazy when he hears The Office theme song. He also loves acoustic Spanish guitar 😂
Becca Hamlyn says
My female dachshund howls when the melodian is played what ever the tune but when I play the violin or flute no reaction.
Tamiann Parrott says
We have a terrier, and every time my husband starts to play his trumpet or flugelhorn, he sings along as though his heart is breaking. He recently started jumping up onto the piano bench when I sit down to play, and he has… one time… sang with me while I played my flute. He loves the trumpet, though, and will literally run to the room where my husband practices and howl away as much as he can.
Karen Bailey says
My 2 year old Golden has a playlist now. Lol. Girls Like You Maroon 5. Halsey Without Me. Billy Ilish Bad Guy. Only the chorus. Hope it’s not stressful.
john kelley says
My dog does it to Justin Timberlake “Say Something” — its the only song. we retired it from our playlist for 6 months and sure enough we put it on today and he whined along
My dachshunds howl to old time country music and older rock it can be hurting them or they would leave
Sheila H. says
My dog Marci, a Chihuahua mix, always howls at the My Pillow commercials and the J.G. Wentworth commercials (the ones that have the opera singers). She knows Mike Lindell’s voice and will start whimpering and runs to find me to tell me that the commercial is on and then that’s it….a non-stop howling and no way to stop her, lol !! I always wondered if these bother her ears in some way or if she just wants to sing along. So….I have gotten real good at diving for the remote control to try to mute the commercial before she gets started howling….but most of the time it’s already too late. My sweet girl Marci passed away a few months ago and boy, I would give anything to hear her sing to me again….I miss her so much!!! Best dog I have ever had!!
Hans Sitt says
Looks like Marci isn’t alone. Our American Eskimo, Solo, does exactly the same thing when he hears the My Pillow commercials. He starts as soon as he hears Mike Lindell’s voice – long before any of the music. He taught me where the ‘Mute’ button is on our remotes. Kinda cute but can be annoying at times because he is extremely loud. Not too much of a problem in the winter with the windows closed but different in the summer with doors and windows open or eve outside… LOL
Renee Brandenburg says
Our 3 year ol Boykin Spaniel starts howling when Perry Mason comes on and ends. We get such a kick out of it. She doesn’t do it to any other music.
J Clark says
My Bulldog only does it when the ice cream man comes rolling through the neighborhood.
Julie St. Lawrence says
My Sheltie only sings to Bach’s Brandenburg concerto number 4, but he’s consistent. Every single time he hears it, he howls.
our sheltie loves soprano voicrs and will howl but udually only one or two notes.
I have just started trying to play the sax and he barks at my efforts all the time.
William Furno says
We rescued an 8 yr old Shepherd mix two years ago. When Family Guy intro played, the howling began. I thought she may have missed my wife, who was working. Lol and behold she howled again for next episode!! Been that way now for two years. Now she started howling to H and R Block tax commercial.
We have a golden retriever and every hour he runs to the musical clock that was purchased at Costco it plays music every hour and the face of the clock twirls and he will run from the other room and literally sings to it , at first we thought he was scared but he gets so excited after he is done singing and runs up to us wagging his tail as if he’s saying do you like my singing ? Every hour !
My dogs starts groaning and howling but it is so confusing!!!
My Border Colour howls to theme song of the TV show “Mom” – “Overture” from Ruslan and Glinka.
Chris Mercer says
My dog Auggie is a miniature Schnauzer his favorite singer is Adel. His favorite song is (Hello). We have noticed that he only sings to really heart felt songs mostly Ballots. I think he contents to the emotions of the songs.
Alastair Macdonald says
I have a 3 year old red collie, who sings along to Emmylou Harris Tulsa Queen and Making believe,
She also talks to me at feed times, leaves her food, comes to me omitting a low growl wagging her tail, then goes back to her food
She sometimes lays down by her bowl and omits a low growl, which means she wants hand fed
Stephanie Kerr says
My 8 year old cocker spaniel howls to the Empire Carpet commercial and Kelsea Ballerini’s song “I Miss Me More”.
Steph Loops says
My Australian Cattle Dog, Spooky, sings to an EDM song called “In My Mind” by Dinoro
I have to play it in the car over and over or he makes a fuss. When I give in and play it, he sings along with all his heart and actually is on key
My rescue (bulldog-mix?) howls when my granddaughter plays her recorder. Any combination of notes will get him started.
Virginia Wyer says
My blue nose Pitt howls to the CBS Sunday Morning theme song, and the GMC commercial that’s sings “Go Boy Go”… lol it’s just so cute 🥰
Terri Pelley says
I have a 1 year old cocker spaniel , we always keep a radio on in the kitchen. Recently we noticed him howling at the radio and then realized after a few times he would howl when the song Zombies by the cranberries came on. We tested it out and sure enough every time we play it he wags his tail and howls along- he even has a favourite part. . He also started doing the same thing to the song wonderwall by oasis. Lol when either one of these songs come on he runs to the radio!
J babinger says
Our Corgie howls along to only one song… The theme song from M.A.S.H., it does have a lot of sax and woodwinds in it and he will wake from a dead sleep just to howl with it every time he hears it.
Virginia Wyer says
That’s so funny
I have a Goldendoodle who howls only to “Family Guy Theme Song”, he howl in the way you could say he’s just trying to sing every single 🎵 🎶 note like a pro ! It must be a saxophone 🎷😄
Paul C Alsobrook says
I have a Golden Retriever that absolutely love The My Pillow Song, he will howl and talk like crazy. Its hysterical. My Yo-Chon just looks at him like hes crazy
Michelle Anderson says
My 7yr old cross JRT/YST Buddy howls every time Puff Daddy’s song I’ll be missing you comes on
My 3 year old chihuahua has just suddenly started howling to Tom Walkers ‘Human’. It’s like he’s trying to tell us something! 🤣🤣🤣
Danielle Nell says
Our chocolate lab, Memphis, has never howled- now every time the JG Wentworth commercials come on, even if he’s sound asleep, he sits right up and howls the entire time!! It’s so weird!
My Dalmatian starts howling at Flash Gordon by Queen and any opera music. I can’t tell if he enjoys it but he doesnt seem stressed.
I just discovered that my three year old yorkie Prince Charming loves to sing to “Yeah” by Usher
My female Dachshund “Brandy” howls to one song, Stay With Me. By Sam Smith.
Theresa Evanochko says
My golden retriever sings to the theme from Harry Potter, (which is my ringtone) Dark Side of the Moon, by Pink Floyd And the Mark Knopfler’s guitar solo from Sultans of Swing.
We have a rat terrier that gets excited and howls when my daughters practice oboe and clarinet. He gets so excited even when they are assembling their instruments and haven’t started playing yet.
Sue white says
My 7 year old English bulldog howls to Blondie, heart of glass. Had him from 8 weeks old and this week is the first time he’s sang along. His ears twitch as soon as he hears the music
My Spanish mastin cross howls to the music of TV programme Midsomer Murders and the advert jet 2 music. Midsomer Murders I can understand as he is called Barnaby. Barney for short.
Mandy Bunn says
My German wirehaired ponterr howls to the last post and bonanza
Mandy Bunn says
My German wirehaired poi ter howls to the pos and bonanza
Our Golden Retriever only cries during the chorus of The Prayer, by Kid Cudi.
Liz Scott says
My sheltie howls to Marin Morris 80’s Mercedes and Dan and Shay From the Ground up.
My Havanese howls with the Jeopardy theme music. Also My Pillow commercial.
I’m wondering if the music hurts his ears or just enjoying it.
Our rescue dog howls to My Pillow commercials also. I also wonder if it’s painful or enjoyable for the dog.
Debbie Lemley says
My dog howls to the My Pillow Commercial and the National Anthem. I’m not sure what kind of dog I have (weight 9 pounds). After I adopted her, the vet said “My, what do we have here?” By the way, he had been a vet for probably 30 years.
clare bush says
My Chihuahua Jessica only howls to Love Never felt so good by Micheal Jackson and Justin Timberlake and only during the chorus!! We thought it was a fluke but she’s been doing it for about 3 years now lol it’s her party trick 😂
Paula Guzzo says
Maggie is a cocker spaniel and started howling at 4 years old to the song
“The Piano Man” by billy Joel.
I have a video of her singing also to a song by The Who but couldn’t attach to this post.
Crystal Wolfe says
My dog would howl to Beethoven Fur elise. The only song he would howl too. American bulldog and red tip Pitt mix.
My newly adopted rescue Amstaff ‘sings’ along to ‘The Last Post’
Our border collie “sings” when our granddaughter plays the flute.
My Dutch Shepherd howls at any music played and singing from the TV. If I’m on the sofa he’ll come over next to me sometimes to howl. In the vehicle he’ll howl to music from the radio.
I have a Great Pyrenees who only howls whenever I play the viola, bit the violin, cello, nor guitar. She especially loves Clockton (from Majoras Mask) and the Irish Washer Women
My dog is a mix between Rottweiler and American bulldog. Everytime I play the Violin, especially folk music, he howls. He often howls in pitch with what I play, a warm, round howl!😂
My cockapoo howls every Sunday morning when the intro for CBS Sunday Morning comes on. I’ve videoed her and when I play the video back she howls to the video! She seems to really enjoy it!!
Laurie K. says
My Basset Hound Elmer howls to Nadia’s theme (the song for the soap opera The Young and the Restless). This is the only song he howls to.
My dog howls at the Y&R song too. It’s hysterical 😂
My Ruby, a pit mix howls to Missy Elliott, “Get your freak on”..no other song. I’ll turn it down, she’ll stop, turn it up, she’ll howl.
I have a Chihuahua and she loves Lady Antebellum Need You Now! Only song she does it to and starts to howl as soon as she starts the chorus harmony, and doesn’t stop until the song is over.
Jessica Alvarez says
I have a chihuahua and she only howls when Alicia keys plays “No one” only the part when she sings no one. I was surprised because I play any other songs and when Alicia keys song comes up “No one” she starts to howl
My 4 month old chi howls along to Baby Shark, especially when it gets to the mommy shark & grandma shark parts.
My papillon poodle mix likes Broadway music. It relaxes him. But he wakes right up when “Someone Like You” from Jekyll and Hyde comes on and he howls to the chorus.
I have a golden retriever who will howl to two different songs that I’m aware of so far.
His howling songs are Karma Police by Radiohead and Wrong Way by Some.
I have a long haired chihuahua who howls when the end music of Supernatural comes on. As it continues to play between episodes, she howls away. Cutest thing ever…and apparently she’s as big of a Supernatural fan as I am lol
Lisa Allen says
My dog howls when we play the harmonica! At first we thought it was funny and sweet that she was singing along but then worried that maybe it was causing her pain, that’s why I started to investigate but according to this page it’s her way of communication we the pack family which is great!
Same with me. My French Bulldog howls at the harmonica and makes the funniest noises. I was worried too. I posted a video on YouTube but someone told me I was abusing her. She doesn’t run away when I play. She just makes noises right along side of me.
David Smith says
I am a trombonist and my lab-pit mix female will start to sing along when I start playing high notes at and above high B natural ( frequency near 240 ) while practicing. Notes below that nothing at all. She sings pretty much in tune with me up to about a high D, then she cannot seem to reach the notes that I can. I only hope that I am not torturing her.
Al Dragoo says
I have a Jack Russell Terrier Shih Tzu mix that likes to sing when she hears the my pillow commercial and the national anthem.
Debbie Lemley says
I just reported a moment ago that my dog howls to the same things your dog does. How funny!!
Pat Moss says
I have a small Tibetan Spaniel mix that likes to sing when he hears ‘Magic Carpet Ride’, the ice cream truck and bagpipes.