Your dog best friend is a sensory machine. From their advanced sense of smell to their radar-like ability to hear the tiniest varmint hundreds of feet away, dogs have a view of the world that's much different from ours. So just how is it possible for a bloodhound to track a scent for miles? And why does your dog bark at something that seems like it's not there? Read on to learn some fun facts about how your dog sees, feels, tastes, smells and hears the world.
One look at a dog’s ears, and it’s no surprise that their sense of hearing far surpasses ours. A dog's hearing is 10 times more acute than ours, and they hear at a distance four times as far as we can. Their radar-dish-like ears use 16 muscles. Human ears have only six. The extra muscles in a dog's ears allows them to swivel and better capture sounds that pique their interest. That might explain why Rover knows to run from the living room into the kitchen when he hears his treat jar opening. Dogs also hear best at 8,000 hertz (cycles per second), a much higher pitch than humans, who hear best at around 2,000 hertz. (Source)
A dog senses the world best through its nose, which explains why your pup sniffs every inch of the ground during walks. Dogs can smell around 10,000-100,000 times better than humans. A dog's nose has more than 220 million smell-detecting cells. Some breeds, like Bloodhounds, can have as many as 300 million. To compare, a human’s nose has about 10 million of these cells. A bloodhound’s sense of smell is so good that its trailing results are admissible in a court of law. They’ve even been known to follow a scent for as far as 130 miles. A dog’s wet nose also helps trap scent. (Source)
A common misconception about dogs is that they’re colorblind. In fact, dogs can see color, but they perceive it in a much different way than humans do. Dogs can see yellows and blues, but see shades of red in grayscale. Also, dog eyes have a special membrane called the tapetum lucidum. This allows them to see well in low light. A human eye has three types of color-sensitive cone cells compared to two in the canine eye. Dogs are also good at sensing objects in motion, which is why your dog notices the squirrel bounding up a tree before you do. (Source)
Dogs are sensitive to touch, which is why your pup is always trying to get you to keep petting him. Though not as sensitive as humans, dogs have a well-developed sense of touch even under all that fur. In fact, each fur follicle has its own nerve, helping the dog sense touch on all areas of its body. A dog’s paw pads are especially sensitive and can detect slight vibrations in the ground. Puppies are blind when born, but sensory receptors on their muzzles help them seek out the safety of their mothers. Touch is the only fully formed sense in newborn puppies. Adult dogs continue to search out the comfort and pleasure of touch from their owners or pack members. This is why your dog wants to cuddle up to you even on a hot summer day. (Source)
A dog’s whiskers, aka vibrissae, are much more sensitive than regular fur. Whiskers help a dog find its way through dark or small spaces. They can detect slight changes in airflow and pressure, helping a dog “see” obstacles in its path even in a pitch-black room. Whiskers above a dog’s eyes help protect them in a manner like a human’s eyelashes. They’re longer and thicker than a dog’s normal fur. They’re set three times deeper into the skin, rooted around sensitive nerves and blood vessels. (Source)
Dogs have a good sense of taste, although not as good as ours. A dog's tongue has around 1,700 taste buds. That's compared to 9,000 on a human tongue. Dogs' sense of taste evolved in the wild as a way for them to distinguish between things either harmful or safe to ingest. Dogs, like humans, have the ability to taste sweet, sour, bitter and salty. They have a strong aversion to bitter tastes. Dogs also have special taste buds at the tips of their tongues specially tuned for lapping up water. (Source)
Next: What's Your Pet Parenting Style?
Dogs seem to have the uncanny ability to sense emotion in humans. You might notice that your dog barks at a particular person more than others. He may be sensing this person’s nervousness. Dogs do not respond well to emotions like anxiety, fear, anger and nervousness. That's because they view these emotions as weaknesses. Instead, dogs prefer a "pack leader" who is firm and confident. Dogs can also sense if you’re sad or upset, and will respond with submissive or empathetic behaviors. (Source)