My Malamute Won’t Howl (Should I Worry)?

Malamutes are dogs that are filled with personality. Anyone who has owned more than one knows they are all different. Some bark, talk or howl incessantly. You think you’ll never get them to shut up. Others, not so much. You can call them the strong, silent type. As you get to know your Malamute, you will learn the differences between talking, barking, and howling – and what they each mean.

Is your issue “My Malamute won’t howl”? Don’t be concerned. There are several potential causes. Maybe your Malamute doesn’t have anything to say. Perhaps they’ve had a negative experience with howling in the past. Some malamute owners would be quite jealous that your dog doesn’t howl!

In this article, you will learn if howling is essential to the Malamute breed. Can you teach your Malamute to howl? We explore this too.

Is Your Dog Really Not a Howler?

Most Mal owners wish their furry friends would howl considerably less. So do their neighbors!

Before you begin stressing over whether your Malamute howls or not, consider asking your neighbors if your dog howls when you’re not home. Mals are highly social creatures that do not enjoy being alone. They are most likely to howl when left alone because they are sad. Conversely, you could put your Malamute on a run in your yard and go for a walk. You won’t need to get far out of sight before you should hear it howling – if it happens to be a howler.

Does Your Mal Have Something to Say?

Our Malamute wasn’t much of a talker. When she did talk, though, we knew to pay attention. For the most part, she only howled when left alone outside for longer than she wanted to be (sometimes five minutes, other times it could be hours).

Her howl in these instances sounded like a curmudgeon’s complaint. She didn’t like being outside long, but could play in the snow, like a puppy seeing it for the first time, for hours (even when she was a much older dog).

If it was raining outside, she’d barely have enough time to take care of business before howling to come back inside.

Of course, howling isn’t the only way Malamutes communicate. They aren’t big barkers, but there are occasions when they do bark. Excited barking can be them telling you they are happy to see you. You’ll be surprised, they are just as excited to see you if you’ve been gone 15 minutes as they are after a long day at the office. Mals love their people. You will learn to tell the difference between excited barking and other types of barks.

Because they bark so little, if your Mal isn’t doing its “happy to see you, you’ve been gone so long!” bark, it is probably barking to alert you to something that has your pup feeling a little uneasy. It’s an “alert!” bark that wants you to know something is going on that it isn’t sure about.

As an aside, you should not bring home a Malamute expecting it to be a guard dog. They love people a lot. A well-socialized Malamute does not understand the concept of stranger danger. Every human is a potential friend. They will roll over for belly rubs and show robbers where you keep the good stuff.

Other dogs and furry creatures, on the other hand, fall into one of four categories:

  1. Potential packmate.
  2. Potential challenger (especially with dogs of the same sex).
  3. Prey.
  4. Predator.

Talking is more common among dogs that live inside with their humans. Some humans even provide meaning to the sounds their Mals make. Some of these sounds resemble words – especially if you’re trying to get your Mal to do something it doesn’t want to. Many owners refer to this as “talking back.” Have listen to the video below.

The key here is to learn which sounds your Mal makes in certain situations and see if there’s a pattern.

Is Howling Essential for Malamutes?

Honestly, there’s no need to worry if your Malamute won’t howl. Your neighbors will thank you for it.

Some Malamutes simply don’t howl. Other Malamutes only howl when you’re not at home. It may be disappointing for you but can be utterly irritating for your neighbors.

The other thing to remember is that howling once served essential purposes in the lives of their wolf ancestors and even many modern dogs. They howled for different reasons, including the following:

  1. To locate their packs when lost.
  2. To help lost members find their way back to the pack.
  3. To express emotions (joy, sadness, loneliness, fear, and even love).
  4. To respond to other dogs howling.
  5. To express feeling anxious about separation or other reason. Mals are pack animals that do not like being left alone.
  6. To respond to emergency sirens (fire trucks, ambulances, police cars, etc.).
  7. To alert their humans that they have located their prey whilst on a hunt.
  8. To express boredom. This one is important to know for owners seeking to prevent their Malamute from howling.

Some dogs even howl along with music on the television, radio, etc. These are response howls. If you have a Malamute that won’t howl, at least not when you’re around, there are ways to encourage howling from your Malamute. However, be careful. It’s a bell that can never be un-rung once you teach your Mal to howl.

Your Malamute Won’t Howl?

For some people, the beauty of the Malamute’s howl makes you want to have one of these beautiful creatures as your pet. It is the most essential quality that draws you to this animal. We all have things we love about our Malamutes. If you’re unhappy that your Malamute won’t howl for you, you can do something to take matters into your own hands. These are a few things you can do to help your Mal learn to howl.

  1. Howl at your Malamute. When you howl at your dog, it may try to mimic the sounds you’re making – as though it were a game between the two of you. It can be an important bonding exercise for both of you and help your reluctant Mal serenade you with its newfound gift.
  2. Play videos of other malamute puppies howling. This is especially helpful for pups that are raised outside of a pack. Malamutes are social animals, and they do love seeing and hearing other puppies. Part of the reason some Malamutes never howl is that they haven’t been taught it is possible.
  3. Play audio recordings of sirens, someone whistling, or people playing different instruments. Sometimes, these things will cue a pitch that encourages spontaneous howling from your dog.
  4. You might even try to sing in a falsetto or squeaky voice to encourage your Malamute to sing along with you.
  5. Expose him to other dogs who howl. Malamute meet-up groups can help you encourage your Mal to howl.

Don’t forget to be generous with praise and treats if this is a behavior you want to encourage with your Malamute. Malamutes are notoriously difficult to train. When you do train them, positive reinforcement and consistency are essential to further your efforts.

You should be aware that nearby neighbors may not be huge fans of your dog’s newly discovered talent. The odds are good that they will not be nearly as impressed with these new skills as you may be. It is better if you live out in the country and away from others if you are serious about your efforts to encourage your Malamute to howl.

Training Your Malamute When to Howl and Not to Howl

It is extraordinarily challenging to train Malamutes that it is appropriate to howl on some occasions and not on others. This is especially the case when you worked so hard to teach them to howl in the first place.

As far as they are concerned, you should be happy any time they howl. They feel like it warrants praise and treats – even at 2:00 in the morning when you’re trying to sleep. It’s a difficult concept for your Mal.

In fact, it may be virtually impossible to teach your dog the difference. You may have to take an all or nothing approach, especially if you live in an area with noise ordinances or you hope to keep the peace with your neighbors.

One of the biggest challenges to overcome is that Malamutes often howl when you are not at home – making it difficult for you to train them not to howl. Some things you may wish to try to discourage howling include:

  • Crate train your Malamute. Having a safe space to go makes your Malamute feel more comfortable when home alone and may lessen separation anxiety.
  • Provide your Malamute with plenty of entertainment while you’re away. Check out this article for toys they can play alone with.
  • Invest in tech toys, like the Furbo Dog Camera, that deliver treats and positive reinforcements that comfort your Malamute. Furbo is excellent as it can alert you when your Mal is barking, or howling. You can calm your pup by talking to it through the Furbo app — even when you’re not at home.
  • Be consistent with your training when you are home in hopes that it is effective when you are away.

Whether you’re worried that your Malamute won’t howl or that it is howling too much, there are solutions you can try to correct either issue.

One thing to consider is this, “Can Alaskan Malamutes live outside?” If your goal is to encourage howling from your Malamute, the answer is a resounding, Yes! However, if your Malamute has been a little too vocal for neighborhood civility, you may want to keep your Malamute inside.

These animals tolerate wide-ranging temperatures, but need abundant attention from their human families. If you can’t give them the amount of time they need, they will be quite vocal in their complaints. Whether howling, talking back or barking, they are likely to create a stir when they feel lonely.

More Malamute Goodness

If you have enjoyed reading this article, have a read of these other articles we’ve published about Malamutes:


After the death of Andrea's much-loved Malamute Kari she went the rescue route, and now has a five-year-old Labrador Retriever mix, Loki, and a one-year-old Shiba Inu mix, name Jasper. They enjoy spending time at the conservation club (chasing tennis balls and decoys), visiting state parks in the area, and walking along the greenway. She's looking forward to the opportunity to take both dogs boating with the family and buying ANOTHER new vacuum cleaner to manage the daily fur explosions.

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