Do German Shepherds howl? And, if so why?! Read on to find out all you need to know and whether you ought to be concerned.

Do German Shepherds howl?

Every German Shepherd has the ability to howl, but not all of them do it. Whether they howl or not very much depends on the dog itself. Also, it is as possible to teach a GSD how to howl, as it is to teach them to stop howling.

Why do German Shepherds howl?

Finding out what is causing your German Shepherd to howl is the first stage of stopping it. First off, you should be aware of the various reasons why your German Shepherd is howling. Here are a few:

1. Defining its territory

One reason why German Shepherds howl is to warn other dogs that they are moving into its territory. It is used to serve as an advanced warning, with the underlying threat of aggression if the Intruders continue on their course. 

2. GSD Ancestry

Everyone is aware of wolves howling, and they do this to identify each other across the wilderness. Today’s German Shepherds may be domesticated, but they are not a far cry from their wolf ancestors.

Their howling could be something that has been retained in their genes as the species evolved.

3. GSD Separation Anxiety

Despite howling being in their nature, German Shepherd may also howl because of separation anxiety. If your German Shepherd is not comfortable being left on its own, it may resort to howling.

This type of howling is a sign of your dog calling you to come home. Howling because of separation anxiety may be accompanied by other signs of distress like pacing back and forth, or destroying household items.

4. Howling to communicate with other dogs

Communication with other dogs is the most common reason for your German Shepherd to howl. Dogs are pack animals and, as such, they are incredibly friendly. Your German Shepherd’s howling is a sign of it craving the company and attention of other dogs or people.

Anyone living in a neighbourhood with lots of dogs will be familiar with the sound of one dog answering the howls of another, and this spreading throughout the whole community of dogs.

5. Injury Or Illness

Your German Shepherd’s howls could also be a sign of illness or injury. Just as we sometimes cry due to pain, so too do dogs. Your dog howling unusually could be a sign that it is some sort of distress, particularly if the howling is accompanied by uncharacteristic behaviour. In such a situation, you should consult your vet.

6. Bored GSD

Your GSD could be howling just because of boredom. As a breed, the German Shepherd is an incredibly active dog that needs plenty of stimulation. If it fails to get stimulated enough, your German Shepherd might howl simply to relieve its boredom.


How to make my german shepherd howl

On the other hand, maybe your GSD does not howl, and you want to teach it. The first thing you should determine is what type of sounds your dog responds to best. 

Typical sounds that get a reaction from a dog are alarms, sirens, or the howls of other dogs. Showing your German Shepherd a video of dogs howling could be an excellent technique to teach similar behaviour. Another method is to use a high-pitched whistle. It is all down to trial and error, as every dog is different.


Here are 5 ways you can make your dog howl:

    • Howling or singing yourself so your dog follows.
    • Playing high-pitched instruments such as harmonicas.
    • Whistling to your dog
    • Playing recordings of alarms or sirens.
    • Watching videos of other dogs howling.

Once you discovered the best method to get a howling response, you can then reinforce that method with more of the same. You can also promote behaviour by rewarding your dog with treats and plenty of attention when they respond well.


Final thoughts

Your German Shepherd’s howls might be fun and entertaining for you. But, be careful to understand the reasons why they are howling, so you do not miss some potentially harmful cause. Their howling can be for pleasure, and it can also be the result of pain or discomfort. As its owner and carer, it is your responsibility to make sure that you know which one of these it is.


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