Bite Worse Than… Wait, They Don’t Bark

I’m about to burst the bubble of a lot of people. I mean, look, I hate raining on parades, but no matter how much the world disregards this information, I just want you to know, okay?

Werewolves do not bark.

You know why?

WOLVES do not bark.

They don’t. Really. No joke. All those video games? Many of the movies? The ones throwing around stock barky-bark noises for wolves? They’re all so incredibly, horribly wrong that it hurts.

So why don’t wolves bark? Let’s go into some detail as to the why and how.

Wolves actually use communication much more complex than barking.

Among the noises wolf researchers use to refer to the sounds wolves make are: growl, snarl, snap, grunt, groan, huff, gruff, chuff, sniff, rumble, grumble, moan, mutter, yelp, snort, and of course, howl.

Some people will refer to a certain sound a wolf makes as “barking,” but it does not even remotely resemble “bork bork” or “woof” or “boof” or however you describe dog noises, and the sound referred to as a bark is still an incredibly rare sound for any wolf to make ever. It’s much more a deep, controlled, and very loud grunt. It actually sounds super weird.

When communicating among packmates, they often sound like they’re just groaning or grunting or muttering at each other. And, of course, they will howl to convey certain messages, especially in celebration, to call the pack together, or in mourning. Howls can be very complex sounds that convey a great deal of emotion. Why so many werewolves in media today refuse to howl is beyond me, considering it’s the wolf’s signature sound.

Anyway: Wolves make some WEIRD noises. But they don’t bark, and they especially do not bark like domestic dogs.

So why is THAT? Because the domestication of dogs simplified their communication considerably. It rid them of their own language (insofar as it can be called an language – or maybe wolves ARE speaking a language and we’re too daft to understand it, what about that, huh?), in a manner of speaking. All undomesticated canines make what scientists consider more sophisticated and complex sounds and have more distinct levels of communication than a domestic dog, with wolves having the most complex of all (as well as the presumed most complex relationships and social order).

I’ve heard people say that wolves will sometimes try barking at dogs to communicate with them, if they hang out around domestic dogs for their entire lives, like wolves living in enclosures who listen to dogs barking all day. They might start imitating the sound trying to communicate with them.

Although last time I saw a video of a dog barking at a wolf, the wolf looked very confused and startled at these strange, loud, ridiculous sounds. It was actually pretty hilarious. I wish I still had the link.

I’ve never actually seen videos of this or heard it, but maybe it’s true. Whatever the case, wolves in their natural habitat in the wild do not bark.

Cue “but Mav, if that’s true [big if], this means werewolves would bark!” No… no, it really doesn’t for ten thousand reasons (they are wolves and/or half wolves, not domestic dogs and communication patterns and bla bla bla), but whatever, okay? You go ahead and do your werewolves.

Back on track, the domestication of dogs had them adapt a sound for which they could say “DANGER DANGER” or “ALERT ALERT” to their owners – and we got the bark. Which is not a sound wolves make. It’s a simplification.

I’ll readily admit: I’m so tired of wolves barking all the time in media. It’s inaccurate, it’s silly, and it helps promote false information.

And… yeah, the werewolf barking jokes. I mean, okay, there’s a time and a place for werewolf jokes (I’ve made more than a few, myself, of course). But if werewolves get turned into jokes all the time, it becomes hard for anyone to take them seriously ever, turning it into a struggle for actual good werewolf media to ever find a proper audience– aaand this really isn’t the place for me to vent, so anyway.

Either way, next time you see one of these jokes or make one of these jokes or hear a dangerous hyper-aggressive completely unrealistic crazy violent wolf come upon you in a video game and start barking, just remember: most people don’t know the finer points of wolf communication, so you should let them know about that.)