Many professional dog trainers and hunters swear by dog whistles. They claim that a dog whistle is a superior method for both training and issuing commands to your dog.
So, we put them to the test.
All up, we spent 150+ hours testing and reviewing over 21 different dog whistles. Blowing into each one hundreds of times until we were out of breath.
Here are just a few of the different whistles we reviewed…
We tested for ease-of-use, loudness, effectiveness and durability during dog training and hunting. All to answer a single question:
Which whistle is best for your dog?
Want the answer? Then, read on!
Our Top Choices
- What is a dog whistle and do you need one?
- Can a dog whistle stop a dog from barking?
- What are the different types of dog whistles?
- Our testing process
- Best all-around dog whistle
- Best dog whistle for the wilderness
- Best silent dog whistle
- Best dog whistle for hunting
- Loudest dog whistle
What is a dog whistle and do you need one?
When most people think of a dog whistle, they immediately think of the silent kind that only dogs can hear. Truth be told, this is perhaps the least common type of whistle used with dogs.
Most dog whistles create a loud sound that can be clearly heard. Similar to a referee’s whistle.
By blowing into the whistle, you can create unique sounds. With training, your dog will associate the different sounds with commands.
For example, a long blow from the whistle can tell your dog to sit while two short bursts will let her know to return.
Many expert dog trainers and hunters rely on dog whistles. And, it’s easy to see why. Using a whistle to issue commands has a number of advantages over using your voice.
1. Save your voice – After a long day of yelling commands at my dog, my voice becomes hoarse and raspy. Puffing on a whistle is much less straining.
2. Sounds unique – There is no mistaking the blow of a whistle. Your dog won’t confuse the command with another.
3. The sound carries – Even if your dog is running off into the distance, the blast from a whistle can easily be heard. Good luck yelling that far!
4. Use in any weather – The sound of a dog whistle is loud enough to overcome wind, rain and crashing waves.
As you probably guessed, the above features make the whistle a perfect tool to recall your dog. The unique sound travels and can be heard from long distances, so your dog will come running no matter how far away she is.
Hunters often use whistles for their gun dogs. The clear, crisp sound can be heard through trees and over bad weather.
Now, dog whistles are by no means an essential doggy product. After all, your voice can also issue commands.
But if you feel you would benefit from any of the above advantages that a dog whistle offers, grab a dog whistle.
Want to train your dog with a clicker instead? Check out our guide on the best dog clickers.
Note: Dog whistles are loud. With the exception of silent dog whistles, all the whistles we tested were. Any long-term exposure to loud sounds can damage your hearing. While a casual dog owner likely won’t use a whistle often enough to cause major damage, we recommend ear protection when using dog training whistles.
Can a dog whistle stop a dog from barking?
Yes, but only if used properly.
You see, many people buy dog whistles as a barking deterrent or to scare an aggressive dog away.
Whether it’s for your own pooch or to silence your neighbors yapping dogs, the expectation is the same:
You blow a whistle, and the dog magically stops barking.
It sounds a little too good to be true, right?
Well, it turns out it is. Soon after, the dog returns to barking, and you’ll blame the whistle for not working.
The problem isn’t the whistle…
If I blew a whistle in your face, right now, would you know what I wanted?
Of course not, right?
Well, it turns out I want pizza. But you didn’t know that because I have not told you that when I blow a whistle, I want pizza.
It’s the same for your dog.
Sure, a dog whistle may stop your dog from temporarily barking – while she looks at you with an expression that screams “What does this idiot want?”
Yeah, that’s the look…
In fact, if your dog doesn’t know how to react, hearing an unusual whistling sound may cause her to bark even more. Kind of the opposite of what you want, right?
But unless you train your dog to stop barking when you blow a whistle, a whistle is not a good anti-bark tool.
The same goes for any other commands. Your dog won’t sit or come just because you blow a whistle. You need to train your dog how to respond to the whistle first.
Repeat after me:
There is no ‘best’ whistle to stop barking!
But there are some great whistles that you can use in combination with training to stop your dog from barking. Join me as I share my most recommended whistles…
What are the different types of dog whistles?
The whistles used in dog training generally fall into one of two different categories…
Traditional dog training whistles
You blow it, and it makes a noise, simple right? While the exact shape can vary, most look similar to the whistles that are used when refereeing NFL and NBA games.
Traditional whistles come in two varieties:
1. Pea whistle
Inside the whistle is a small ball. If you shake the whistle, you hear it rattle around – you might even be able to see the pea if you look through the air hole on the top of the whistle.
The pea allows you to trill the whistle. By adjusting how long and hard you blow into the whistle, you can produce different sounds.
By being able to produce more sounds out of the same whistle, you can issue more commands to your dog – training your dog to respond accordingly to each sound that comes out of the whistle.
The downside to the pea is that in cold weather, saliva can cause it to freeze in place, making the whistle unusable until it thaws.
The pea also reduces how loud a sound the whistle can make. For standard dog training, this won’t be an issue, but if you hunt with your dog and need a whistle that can be heard from a great distance, you might want to check out the next type of dog whistle…
- Commonly available
- Broader range of sounds
- Less loud than pealess whistles
- Cannot be heard from great distances
- Can freeze in winter
2. Pealess whistle
Unless you have a specific need to produce a range of sounds from your whistle, then we suggest using a pealess whistle instead. It’s basically the same whistle, just without a pea.
Because there is nothing to obstruct the airflow, pealess dog whistles are considerably louder. In fact, some pealess whistles are so loud that they can be heard from two miles away.
But what makes pealess whistles truly great for dog training is their sound. No matter how hard or soft you blow, they produce the same pitch.
Even if you are out of breath or angry, you can be confident that when you blow your whistle, your dog will hear the same sound. It is significantly easier to make a quick, short blast with a pealess whistle than one with a pea.
Without the need to squeeze a pea into the design, pealess whistles come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Some look like a regular whistle while others are little more than a flat rectangle.
As you might have guessed, the trend among professional dog trainers we interviewed was that most prefer the pealess variety.
Gun dog owners, however, were split down the middle. Many used the trill of a pea whistle to issue additional commands to the dog. Others preferred the pealess dog whistles, retelling stories of how their dogs could hear the whistle over a mile away through dense woods – even on a windy day.
Note: Pea and pealess whistles look identical to each other. In fact, many brands offer the same model of whistle with or without the pea. Read the description carefully if you have a preference.
- Commonly available
- Preferred by dog trainers and hunters
- Many different styles, shapes and colors to choose from
- Loud noise will annoy those around you
- Extremely loud models may need ear protection
Ultrasonic dog whistles
Ultrasonic Dog Whistles look nothing like an a traditional dog whistle. In fact, they look more like a pen than a whistle. This unique shape allows ultrasonic whistles to give off a sound like no other.
Ultrasonic dog whistles are often referred to as silent dog whistles. When you blow on this whistle, it won’t make a sound. Well, other than the soft hiss of air as it exits the whistle.
Your dog has sensitive hearing. So sensitive that she can hear noises that your ears can’t. An ultrasonic dog whistle takes advantage of this fact…
When you blow into an ultrasonic dog whistle, it produces a sound so high-pitched that it can’t be heard by humans. But to your dog, it sounds like you are blowing a regular whistle!
It is worth mentioning that despite their name, silent dog whistles are not perfectly silent. Depending on how sensitive your hearing is, you may still hear a quiet sound, like air escaping a car tire.
But if you are looking for a dog whistle that won’t annoy those standing nearby or even your neighbors, then an ultrasonic whistle checks that box.
Because the sound isn’t as obnoxious, we noticed that ultrasonic dog whistles were a better option for easily startled dogs. During testing, we observed that scared dogs didn’t jump or flinch like they did when louder whistles were blown.
Ultrasonic dog whistles are better used around the home or in short-distance dog training. The sound doesn’t carry as well as a traditional whistle, and your dog may find it difficult to hear over wind and other noises.
By the way, all ultrasonic dog whistles are pealess.
Note: A select few people can actually hear the tone that an ultrasonic whistle produces. However, this is highly uncommon – most won’t hear a noise at all.
- Loud to dogs, quiet to people
- May be better for easily startled dogs
- Not suitable for long-distance training
- Less suited to deaf dogs
- Not as readily available
- Limited range of styles and colors
Our testing process
At DogLab, we take reviewing darn seriously. We are dog fanatics and honestly believe that our dogs are the most important thing in life. Because of this, we would never recommend a product that we wouldn’t happily use with our own pups.
That’s why we thoroughly tested every dog whistle featured in this guide. By the end of the process, we spent a combined 150+ hours researching, testing and reviewing the most popular (and even some unpopular) dog whistles on the market.
Want to learn more about our testing process? Read on.
Rounding up the dog whistles
It all started with choosing which dog whistles to test.
As we soon learned, there is a wide range of dog whistles on the market. With hundreds of whistles to choose from, we had to narrow down our selection.
To add to the confusion, many of the most effective whistles are not marketed as dog whistles at all. In fact, many of the most popular dog whistles are referee whistles or extremely loud whistles marketed as survival whistles.
After hours of research and interviews, we narrowed down our selection to about 21 different whistles from the following brands:
- All Weather Whistles
- Fox 40
With our list complete, it was time to go shopping. Each whistle featured in our review was purchased from Amazon.com. Yep, at DogLab, we buy every product at the exact same price you would pay.
How did we test the dog whistles?
Since whistles are used to train dogs, it makes sense to test each whistle while training a dog, right? I took full advantage of this review to train my pup while getting paid for it. Thanks, DogLab!
Let me introduce you to my training buddy:
Breed: German Shepherd x Border Collie Mix
I’m going to be straight up. Harper’s recall sucks. When I yell for her to come back, it’s a coin flip as to whether or not she will return or not. Well, that’s all changed now. Who knew a whistle, treats and training was everything I needed to turn this disobedient pup into a well-behaved pooch?
To confirm the whistles effectiveness, we had 10 users review each whistle and give their opinion.
I also brought in the help of two dog trainers to provide their expert opinions. These trainers already used whistles daily. Between the two, they train hundreds of dogs every week, giving us a broad testing group to see how each whistle performed.
We went further and interviewed many hunters who use dog whistles for activities like retrieving ducks and flushing game out of hiding.
We then proceeded to test over 21 different whistles for the following:
Ease-of-use – How easy was the whistle to hold in the mouth and blow?
Distance – How far did the sound of the whistle carry?
Strength – How well did the whistle overcome wind?
Loudness – We used a decibel meter to determine how loud each whistle was.
Durability – Each whistle was dropped on a concrete floor and stepped on with a rubber-soled shoe.
Response – Did dogs respond to the whistle in real-world use?
Each of these factors contributed to which dog whistles we recommend. Our top picks excel in all these areas.
The best dog whistles
In our hunt to find the best, we tested and reviewed over 21 different whistles. It was a long journey, but we eventually narrowed them down to the 5 best whistles for dogs.
To start, I share the best dog training whistle for most people. After that, I reveal our top picks for those looking for something more specialized, such as whistles for use in the wilderness and even an extra-loud option.
1. Best all-around dog whistle
It’s easy to see why the Acme 212 Pro Trailer whistle is a favorite among many expert dog trainers, including Martin Deeley who runs the Florida Dog Training School. It’s the perfect whistle for dog training.
When using a whistle as a training marker, instead of a clicker, it’s important that the sound remains constant. You want your dog to associate the sound of the whistle with the action you are training your dog to perform – and hearing the same sound makes this easier.
The pealess design of the Acme 212 whistle means that it will produce the exact same sound and medium pitch, no matter how hard or soft you blow. Of course if you blow louder, it can be heard from a greater distance, but the tone held even over the distance. Perfect for recall training!
The whistle is loud, but not obnoxiously so. And, that’s exactly what makes this the perfect whistle for close-quarter training. It’s easier on the ears than the extreme volume of louder dog whistles.
Even so, the tone was easily heard over the wind when we were testing in an open field. Unsurprisingly, all our dogs could hear it and responded when we blew this whistle, even our hard-of-hearing Beagle tester.
Even though the Acme 212 is made entirely from plastic, it’s very durable. During testing, I accidentally dropped and stepped on it – it didn’t break. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Acme makes quality products, and like all their whistles, this one is made in the UK.
Available in a range of colors, I highly recommend choosing a brightly colored whistle. There was no losing the orange 212 we tested – the vibrant orange color was clearly visible in the grass.
Located at the base of the whistle is a ring that allows you to attach the Acme 212 to a lanyard. You will have to purchase a lanyard separately. But don’t put it off, hanging the whistle from a lanyard keeps it within easy reach during training.
If you want to whistle-train your dog, then it doesn’t get any better than the Acme 212 Pro Trailer.
2. Best dog training whistle for the wilderness
Planning on training your Retriever in the woods? It might surprise you to learn that you will need a louder whistle.
Even though the woods are quieter than the open field at your local dog park, sound just doesn’t travel as well. You are competing with dense trees as well as the sound of blowing wind, rain and running streams.
Fortunately, one pealess training whistle excelled at producing the loudest noise in nature…
The Fox 40 CMG Mini
The Fox 40 CMG Mini is an improved version of the Fox 40 whistle you see referees use in the NBA and NFL. CMG stands for cushioned mouth grip. The mouth grip makes the whistle more comfortable to hold in your mouth for long periods of time – it also protects the plastic whistle from bite marks!
It’s worth mentioning that the Fox 40 CMG Mini has a smaller mouthpiece than the Fox 40 CMG. The reason we recommend the Mini is that 9 out of our 10 testers found the slightly smaller mouthpiece easier to hold and blow.
Don’t be fooled by the small size because this whistle is loud. The Fox 40 CMG Mini produces an intense, high-pitch whistle. When blown, the shrill of the whistle penetrates deep into the woods and can be heard from over blinds – when you have no line of sight to your dog.
We spoke to many owners who praised this whistle for its ability to be heard over howling winds and crashing waves. If you struggle to be heard over the elements, then this is the whistle for you.
I put the whistle to the test in the woods of Upstate New York. The Fox 40 CMG Mini was one of the few whistles our Labrador Retriever testers could hear when running in the water on a windy day – it would be great for duck dogs.
Because it’s pealess, the tone produced is constant, and there are no moving parts to jam, even in freezing weather. And if you live in a rainy state, you’ll be pleased to know that the Fox 40 CMG Mini can be blown even when wet – although the distance our dogs could hear the whistle from was greatly reduced in the rain.
Closer to home, the Fox 40 CMG Mini whistle could be easily heard at the local park situated near a busy highway.
It shouldn’t surprise you that if your dog is easily startled, then this isn’t the right whistle for you. It’s also loud enough that you’ll annoy your neighbors if you blow it in built-up areas.
But for overcoming loud noises and dense bushland, no other dog training whistle does it better than the Fox 40 CMG Mini.
3. Best silent dog whistle
The Acme 535 was an easy winner. Made in England and built to last, this is the only all-metal silent dog whistle on the market. Made from rust-resistant brass with a nickel plating, you’ll have this silent whistle for years to come.
It’s worth mentioning that like all silent dog whistles, the Acme 535 makes some noise. It appears each of our whistleblowing testers heard the sound differently. For some, it sounded like escaping air, like when you blow through a straw. Others heard a very light whistling sound, like when a teapot just starts to boil.
Even so, all the testers agreed that the Acme 535 was basically unnoticeable when you were more than a few yards away. When I tested the Acme 535 in my apartment, it was the only whistle my neighbors could not hear through the walls.
The frequency of the whistle can be adjusted from 5,800 Hz to 12,400 Hz. This is done by twisting the base of the whistle. As the whistle extends, the frequency gets louder. It may take some trial and error, but eventually, you’ll find the perfect pitch for your dog.
I noticed that the higher pitch worked better at longer distances. Out in the open, I was impressed with how well the sound traveled. On a still day, my dog could hear the whistle from 550 yards away.
Windier days dramatically reduced the range. It seems that the sound a silent dog whistle makes doesn’t carry as well over strong winds. On one particularly gusty day, my dog wouldn’t respond at any distance greater than 50 yards.
As you might have guessed, this makes the Acme 535 unsuitable for long-distance recall while hunting. But it’s perfect for dog training in an open field or closer. All our doggy testers came running every time we blew this silent whistle. Well, all except one…
Molly, an elderly Beagle, is partially deaf. Unfortunately, no matter how hard we blew, or which pitch we used, she just wouldn’t respond. If your dog is hard-of-hearing, I would recommend choosing another of our recommended whistles – they were all loud enough for Molly to hear.
During testing, my inner child came out. I couldn’t help but blow this whistle as dogs were being walked on the opposite side of the street. All dogs reacted when I blew on the whistle.
The reactions were mixed. Some instantly looked in my direction while others started frantically barking and pulling in the direction of the sound. Because the owner couldn’t hear the sound of the whistle, they thought their pup was misbehaving. Looking back on it, I feel bad now for the dogs – I don’t recommend following my childish behavior.
The whistle also has a protective cap, chained to the base so that it doesn’t get lost. The cap stops the whistle from gunking up, keeping the mouthpiece clean and hygienic when not in use. A handy feature – this whistle is going in your mouth after all.
The cap snaps on like the lid of a marker. With the cap connected, the Acme 535 looks like a bracelet and can now be attached to your keychain or looped to your dog training pouch, keeping the silent whistle on hand for when you need it.
The Acme 535 is the Rolls Royce of silent dog whistles. If you want a silent whistle for your dog, then this is as good as it gets. Highly recommended.
4. Best dog whistle for hunting
It didn’t surprise us that the Acme Thunderer was a favorite among hunters. This whistle is regularly used to train pointing dogs and gun dogs that retrieve game.
What did surprise us is which Acme Thunderer whistle everyone liked the most. I was confident it would be the Acme Thunderer 60. Its all-metal design made it extra-durable while the shiny finish made it easy to locate if dropped in the woods.
Almost every hunter we spoke to preferred the plastic variety. In particular, the small Acme Thunderer 560. And, all our testers agreed.
It turns out that the plastic varieties are much more comfortable to hold in the mouth. There is something about metal that just doesn’t feel right when you bite it. Not to mention that putting your lips on cold metal in freezing weather isn’t fun at all.
But where the Acme 560 really excels is in the wide variety of sounds that it can make. Inside the whistle chamber sits a pea. By blowing harder or softer, longer or shorter, you can create a range of different sounds.
This allows you to issue commands to a properly trained hunting dog simply by using the whistle. For example, a short trill for “sit,” three quick blasts for “recall” and a long trill for “turn.”
Our testers said that out of all the whistles, the Acme Thunderer 560 was one of the easiest to trill.
And just how loud is this whistle? Well, it’s called the Thunderer for a reason. It was the loudest pea whistle we tested and could easily be heard even through the dense woods.
Now, it is worth mentioning that the Acme Thunderer 560 isn’t suitable for extremely cold weather. On icy days, your saliva can cause the pea inside the whistle to freeze in place. When this happens, blowing won’t make a whistling noise.
Like all Acme Whistles, the Thunderer 560 is made in the UK. Despite being made of plastic, the whistle feels durable and will last for years to come, assuming you don’t lose it first.
I will add that the black plastic is difficult to see if dropped in the woods. But this is easily solved by buying a brightly colored lanyard.
If you are looking for a good hunting whistle that is capable of producing a wide range of sounds, it doesn’t get any better than the Acme Thunderer 560.
5. Loudest dog whistle
At first, I didn’t believe the advertising. Loudest whistle? Yeah right, we’ll see about that…
I made the mistake of blowing the Storm Whistle in my apartment. The sound it produced was deafening. Not only did I scare the fur off my own pup, but I managed to set off every other dog in the entire apartment complex – they wouldn’t stop barking.
This thing is aggressively loud!
In fact, in our loudness test, it beat out every other whistle!
I’m going to be straight up with you… This whistle is so loud that most of you will never need it. The only reason you would use a whistle this loud for dog training is for extreme long-distance recall – it can be heard from miles away.
Unless you own acreage or your dog often roams for miles, then check out my earlier recommendations. They are considerably more user-friendly for closer training, where a whistle this loud can startle dogs.
But if you want loud, then this is it. I had my husband blow this 1.5 miles into a trail hike. Both my dog and I could easily hear the sound it gave off. It’s shocking just how well the sound carries from this whistle.
The sound pierces through all other noises. Wind, rain, noisy birds – nature is no match for the thunderous sound that the Storm Whistle produces. And, that’s exactly what makes this whistle so good for long-distance recall – it can be heard above everything else.
We spoke to one dog owner who lives in rural Nebraska and swears by this whistle. She uses it to recall her dogs who often roam in the woods surrounding her property. When it’s dinnertime, she gives a couple of blows on the whistle, and they come running – sometimes they are so far away that it takes a few minutes for them to reach her.
If you want loud, then the Storm Whistle delivers. Your dog will be able to hear you from miles away.
Like with any loud dog whistle, we highly recommend using ear protection.
The dog whistles that didn’t make the cut
Whistles are a fairly simple device. Truth be told, there is a good argument to be made that any old whistle will do. After all, each one makes a whistling sound when blown.
With that said, not every whistle can be a winner. When it came down to quality, frequency and ease-of-use with dogs, the whistles we reviewed varied dramatically in their performance.
The following whistles fell short in one way or another when compared to our top picks. Based on our testing, the above recommendations get everything right. There is little reason to choose a runner-up.
The HyperWhistle had some of the boldest claims of any whistles we tested. Promising up to 142 dB of sound that can be heard for up to 2 miles away, it had the potential to take the crown of the loudest dog whistle. In testing, however, no tester could achieve anywhere near those claims. The HyperWhistle was a further let down by a mouthpiece that was awkward to blow into. It was also considerably more expensive than our number one recommendation for loudest dog whistle.
I really wanted to like the SportDOG Roy Gonia Mega Whistles. Their unique shape directs the sound forward, away from the blower, much easier on the ears than other whistles that produce a similar sound. Despite what you would expect from the design, the sound produced just didn’t carry as far as other whistles, and its bulky size was awkward to hold in the mouth.
The SportDOG Roy Gonia Commander is a softer whistle. It has its place for young pups, dogs that startle easily and short-distance training. I felt that this whistle was cheaply made, but for the budget price, that is somewhat expected.
After using a variety of standard-shaped whistles, the Acme Shepherd Mouth Whistle was difficult to learn. But once we got the hang of it, we were able to issue multiple dog commands. Be warned… The first time you shove it in your mouth, you will taste grease. Our reviewers and the dog owners we interviewed had a preference for a more traditional whistle.
Acme’s 210, 210.5 and 211.5 dog whistles produced high-pitched sounds, increasing in frequency as the number increases. They were easy to blow. However, they were edged out by the Acme 212. The Acme Tornado was more cumbersome to use than a traditional whistle.
While the Fox 40 CMG, Fox 40 and Fox 40 Sonik were all great whistles in their own right, capable of producing shrill sounds that pierced through weather, the Fox 40 CMG Mini had them all beat in terms of usability and comfort.
In our hunt for a budget dog whistle, we also tested a variety of generic options. Unfortunately, all the cheaper options from unknown brands performed poorly across all areas. Most notably, the construction was cheap, and the performance was inconsistent. They may be a simple product, but whistles require precision manufacturing to generate the correct tone and pitch – stick to the known name brands.
Phew, if you made it this far, congratulations! You now know which whistle is best for training your pooch.
A recap of our results…
The best whistles we tested:
- Acme 212 – Best all-around dog whistle
- Fox 40 CMG Mini – Best whistle for the wilderness
- Acme 535 – Best silent dog whistle
- Acme Thunderer 560 – Best dog whistle for hunting
- Storm Alert Whistle – Loudest dog whistle
Remember: Even the best dog whistle isn’t a substitute for proper training!
Which dog whistle do you use to train your dog? Let me know in the comments below!