Search for “Huskies talking” on YouTube or TikTok and you’ll get hundreds, if not thousands of results. Siberian Huskies are known for their very communicative vocalizations: whining, screaming, howling, yelping, and such a range of sounds that one could very well consider it “talking.”
How Do Huskies Communicate?
Primarily, Huskies vocalize to communicate with their pack, whether it’s other Huskies or their human pack. The Husky is closely aligned with his wolf ancestor and, like the wolf, this very old breed is a pack animal. Developed as a sled dog and meant to work with a large group of dogs, Huskies use vocal communication as a means of survival.
Huskies use and can differentiate between different tonal patterns to communicate and these sounds carry over long distances. A Husky might be calling to his pack if they become lost or if they sense danger. Crying may indicate they or another of the pack is hurt or in trouble. And a different tone may mean “speed it up” or “we’re stopping here.” The variations in vocalizations convey their meaning. Anyone who owns more than one Husky knows they often seem to be having actual conversations.
Dogs have a much keener sense of hearing than humans and can pick up frequencies three times higher than we can. They can also hear sounds as far away as half a mile, or even further, so sound is the most efficient way for them to communicate.
Reacting to External Sounds
A Husky will howl along with a siren, a crying baby, high-frequency sounds from the television, and even ”sing” along to music.
In fact, composer and pianist Kirk Nurock composed several pieces, including “Expedition,” arranged for a jazz trio and Siberian Husky. His piece, “Sonata for Piano and Dog” was even performed at Carnegie Hall and on the David Letterman Show. Though some Huskies don’t even need a musical accompaniment to sing.
Huskies may also howl when left alone. They have a long history of living with a pack and become very attached to their human family. Left alone, their howl may be expressing anxiety or calling to the “pack” to return.
Vocalization to Expresses Emotions
Huskies will use a variety of tones and sounds to let you know how they’re feeling. They’ll whine, cry, and yelp when they aren’t happy with the situation. They may even resort to the well-known Husky scream.
Hearing it for the first time, you’d think the dog was being tortured. That intense vocalization usually happens when a Husky doesn’t want to do whatever it’s being told to do. It’s the Husky way of arguing back and making their feelings very clear. Add to that a drama when they’re feeling particularly stubborn and defiant, and you might see a full-fledged Husky tantrum.
Are Huskies Really Using Words?
What about all those videos of Huskies appearing to say actual words? Huskies are very sensitive to the frequencies and tones of human speech and quite good at imitating those sounds. If a Husky hears “I love you” often enough in the same tone of voice, they may very well respond in sounds that sound similar “I love you.” Being such a vocal breed, Huskies will often respond to a human talking to them by answering back.
A paper by Harry Miles Johnson of Johns Hopkins University in 1912 concluded that a dog’s speech is “the production of vocal sounds which produce illusion in the hearer.” Over a hundred years later, scientific opinion remains the same: no, dogs cannot talk.
Oddly enough, Huskies rarely truly bark. Instead, they use all of their various vocalizations to express themselves. Your Husky will let you know, loudly and often, if they’re excited, bored, feeling defiant, stressed out, or just want to chat with you. Though we may not understand precisely what they’re “saying,” we usually get a pretty good idea of what they mean.