Will dogs respond to wolf howls?

And how will they choose to do it?
Who's ready to howl like a wolf? (ID 109360945 © Cynoclub | Dreamstime.com)

When it comes to dogs, there is one place where it all began.


And when it comes to wolves, there is one sound that we think of most.

The howl.

Which raises an interesting question. How well do dogs respond to a wolf's howls?

This was tested by researchers at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) in Hungary. Because while some dogs are known to howl frequently on their own, others do not howl at all. It is uncertain whether they are even capable of howling anymore themselves.

So the Hungarian researchers took 68 purebred dogs and exposed them to a simple test. A recording of wolves howling was played. And they were observed to see how they would respond.

Modern vs. ancient

Embed from Getty Images

A wolf howls to send a message to its own pack, as well as other wolfs who might be invading its territory. (Getty Embed)

In some ways, the results weren't too surprising. Dogs whose breed was more ancient, or closer in lineage to wolves, responded by howling back. (These included breeds like sled dogs or German shepherds.) Whereas dog breeds who were more modern (like French bulldogs or toy dogs) only barked back. Also, it was suggested that modern breeds were barking to communicate to their owners, not back to the wolves.

But there's more. As they howled, the ancient breeds also display a lot of behaviour related to stress, such as licking, peeing, and shaking. It is thought that they were showing anxiety about trespassing in another animal's territory (wolves howl to both communicate to their pack and to mark territory against rival wolves).

And the youngest dogs all howled in some way, no matter whether their breed was ancient or modern. The thinking of the scientists? Though all dogs were born to howl in some way, the more modern dogs slowly had the urge to howl worn out of them by being domesticated.

Howl about that?

Watch the video below to see footage of the doggies reacting to the howls. Yes, it is adorable!

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