Why Do Golden Retrievers Howl Like A Wolf?

Why Do Golden Retrievers Howl Like A Wolf?

It is said that wolves and dogs are closely related. It explains the similarities found in some dog breed’s appearance and behavior. In terms of behavior, most dogs need to be close to their pack or human families, and they also howl out of the blue. 

Golden retrievers howl like a wolf either to respond to a high-pitched noise like sirens or as a response to other dogs’ howl or human noise. It can also mean that they are lonely, especially that they hate to be left alone.

I will be discussing the history of golden retrievers and their association with wolves. The main reasons why dogs howl and how to prevent them from doing so is also included deeper in this article.

The History Of Golden Retrievers

A Golden Retriever is one of the dog breeds who have a wolf-like appearance. They are known as versatile dogs, and they were bred originally for retrieving games.

Also, they usually assisted hunters in waterfowl and upland bird hunting. They could retrieve anything and return them to the hunters without damage. Thus the name “retrievers.”

Golden Retrievers have earned their reputation as one of the smartest breeds of dogs. They can be trained quickly and are a great companion for everyone.

They are also known to be great with kids, adults, and even to strangers. Though they are known for being energetic and aggressive, they could be still and calm with proper training. Nowadays, they are not only regarded as hunting dogs but also used as therapy or family dogs. 

From this point, you might already be thinking about getting one as a pet. Before doing so, make sure you aren’t a person who gets scared with howls because Golden Retrievers tend to howl a lot, especially to sirens. 

Why Do Golden Retrievers Howl?

Generally, howling is associated with wolves and animals of a similar type – dogs. Oxford defines “howl” as “a long, loud, mournful cry of an animal such as a wolf or a dog. It is regarded as usual for wolves but could mean death or ghost for dogs because of superstitious beliefs.

Reason 1: A Response To High-pitched Noise

Howling is one of their ways to communicate with other dogs. Wolves use this way to warn their pack of imminent danger or as a guide to lead others back to their homes.

On the other hand, Golden Retrievers howl to respond to high-pitched noise such as the sound of a siren or a musical instrument with a high note. They also howl as an answer to another animal’s howl or even a person’s.

Reason 2: A Sign Of Loneliness

Howling among Golden Retrievers or other kinds of dogs could also mean loneliness. Golden Retrievers always want to be with their owners that they feel extremely sad when they are left alone.

You might hear your Golden Retriever howling softly when you come back home late. It is because they already miss you, and they are trying to lead you back home like what wolves do.

Reason 3: Howling To Sirens And Other Related Noises

Some owners complain of Golden Retrievers because of reacting to sirens and high-pitched noise. Though regarded as normal, this behavior can be minimized through a training called desensitization and counterconditioning.

Desensitization is a process of exposing dogs to what triggers a specific behavior while counter conditioning is teaching your dog to respond or act differently to what he used to do. These should be done together to ensure effectiveness.

Reason 4: Howling To Catch Your Attention

You might hear your Golden Retrievers howl all of a sudden when you are busy. It is because they want you to look at them and pay attention.

It could be cute but could also be troublesome if your Golden Retriever does it every time. If you don’t want them to get used to it, ignore them whenever they do it. It will give them the idea that doing so will not give them what they want.

Reason 5: Howling Due To Loneliness

Dogs are naturally social animals. Thus they seek for regular interaction and attention. If you notice your retriever howling more than usual, it might mean that you should try to spend some time with him. This happens typically after being separated from you for quite some time.

But you still have to make sure not to feed their likings so much so they wouldn’t resort to it for you to give them attention.

Reason 6: Howling Because Of Being Left Alone

Dogs always want to be with their owners, so they feel extremely sad when they are left alone for a long time.

In case you have to leave your retriever at home for some essential matters, make sure to leave a lot of different things that your retriever can enjoy himself with. In this way, he will not feel much boredom and loneliness.

Is a dog howling something to be scared of?

Definitely not! As dogs cannot use verbal communication, they use vocal communication to express different types of emotions. 

Other than howling, they use barking, yipping, snorting, sneezing, whining, and sometimes yodeling as their way to show their feelings. Doing any of these might mean that there is a message they are trying to relay.

If you are thinking of adding a golden retriever to your family, you must know them well. In this way, you can react to their behavior accordingly and respond appropriately to what they are trying to convey. We can always seek professional advice or further readings for this.

Should I Worry About My Golden Retriever’s Howling?

When a retriever howls only when it is triggered, there is nothing to be concerned about. But if this behavior becomes frequent and excessive, it’s a sign that you have to pay attention to your retriever. It might be that he is trying to communicate something to you.

Whether it’s a sign that he is feeling sick or just feeling anxious about being separated from you, you must act upon it immediately.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

As they say, it is easier to establish a behavior earlier than to re-establish it after. Golden Retrievers and many kinds of dogs possess impeccable intelligence. Because of it, training them isn’t much of a problem.

Also, Golden Retrievers are known for their obedience and responsiveness. So, with your patience and passion, you can teach them whatever you want them to learn. 

From their young age, you can already establish and adjust their howling behavior. You can do this by simply rewarding them for being quiet than paying attention to them when they make noise or do anything terrible. 

As retrievers want your attention most of the time, it will be instilled in them that they should keep quiet to get what they want from you.

You can also introduce to them the words “Stop,” “Quiet,” and train them what these words mean. You can do this by giving them a treat whenever they respond to your command accordingly.

Choosing the Best Dog to Pet

Golden retrievers have been consistent in holding a spot in the list of the most popular breed in the US.

Along with them are the other types of retrievers, German Shepherd, and Bulldogs. These dogs have been highly regarded and liked because of their friendly nature, intelligence, and obedience. 

Golden Retrievers are great family dogs. They are very affectionate, and they can learn things quickly. They are also good at being around with children, and with proper training, they can learn to play with them gently.

They are also naturally lovely and can show their affection to everyone. It is one of the reasons why they are used as therapy dogs. 

Each dog has its unique characteristics. Knowing things like these are a must for you to decide which dog breed suits your taste and personality. You may also need to know more about their origin, good and bad behavior, suitable environment, and proper grooming and diet. 


Keeping a Golden Retriever takes a lot of responsibility, patience, knowledge, tolerance, and love. When you decide to get one, you have to make sure that you are ready physically, mentally, emotionally, and physiologically.

You don’t want to be surprised by your dog’s behavior and spend some chilly nights just because of your dog’s howling. 

Related Questions

What other dogs howl like a wolf?

All dogs howl, but some dogs howl more than the others. Also, there are differences in their vocal, tone, loudness and softness, and even the sound.

We might not recognize it, but dogs howling differs from each dog and their reason. Dogs howl to a person or another dog familiar to him is different from his howl to a stranger. 

The frequency of the dogs’ howling also varies. While some dogs only howl to distinctive noises and reasons, others howl at almost every sound they hear. Hound breeds and hunting dogs such as Huskies and Malamutes tend to howl a lot.

As they are naturally raised to hunt, dogs use howling as a signal to hunters that they have hunted something or to guide them to where they are. As part of the elite hunting dogs, golden retrievers are prone to howling a lot. 

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