Dog Science Series: 10 Interesting Facts About Dogs
Dogs have long been called "Man's best friends" for a reason, but domestic canines are more than just simple house pets. Dogs are surprisingly complex creatures, with each dog breed having their own unique quirks. It should come as no surprise that there are so many amazing facts about these animals, from the power and acuity of a dog's senses, to their social behaviors, to the raw speed that most dog breeds possess.
There are so many fun facts about doggos that it's hard to choose a specific area to focus on. Dog facts range from simple dog care considerations to staggering achievements listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. Join us today as we review our top ten favorite amazing dog facts!
There's a Specific Reason That Dogs Curl Up
It's the end of a long, hard day. You and your furry friend are settling in for the evening. You watch as your dog proceeds to curl up tightly in the center of their dog bed. No matter which dog breed you call a packmate, from towering mastiffs to the diminutive chihuahua, every doggy does it. Turns out it's not just about comfort; there's a deeper reason hard-wired right into their DNA.
Dogs curl up when they go to sleep to help shield themselves from sneak attacks. The curling motion tightens their bodies, making vital organs less accessible. The next time you see your best friend curled up for comfy time, know that there's an element of survival instinct to their behavior.
There Are Health Benefits to Owning a Dog
If you're reading this, then you already love dogs. But did you know that there are tangible health benefits to pet ownership? Over the last two years, Psychology Today has compiled studies showing the diverse range of benefits that go along with canine companionship, including:
- Better mental health
- Increased psychosocial wellbeing
- Decreased blood pressure
- Relief from PTSD and depression
That's not to mention the increased level of accessibility that trained service dogs provide to owners with disabilities. Dogs truly are man's best friend in more ways than one.
Their Sense of Smell is Incredible
It should come as no surprise, but canines have a far more powerful sense of smell than their human counterparts. While humans have an impressive five million scent receptors in their nasal cavity, dogs have a staggering 300 million. Dogs can even smell things as minute a body heat from small prey, making even the smallest of breeds formidable hunters.
Their Vision Isn't Worse Than a Human's, Just Different
There's a common belief that dogs have worse vision than humans do. That's just not true. A dog's vision is different. In fact, many dog breeds, such as german shepherds, border collies, and golden retrievers have good visual clarity to help them hunt.
Many people also believe dogs to be colorblind. That's not true either. Dogs do lack the red/ green receptor cones in their eyes, meaning they only see the world in shades of blue and yellow, but their limited palette can be just as sharp and vibrant as ours.
Dogs Dream Too!
Dreams aren't solely a human thing. Did you know your canine companion has dreams that are just as robust and in-depth as yours?
All available scientific data points to the fact that dogs dream in the same exact way that people do. If you see your pooch kicking their legs in their sleep or hear them whimpering, chances are they are reliving experiences from their day just like we do. The most interesting aspect of doggy dreamland, however, is the fact that both puppies and geriatric dogs appear to have more vivid dreams than middle-aged dogs, due to differences in their brain development.
Dogs Don't Sweat Like We Do
When humans exercise, we sweat underneath our arms. The higher our level of activity, the higher our body heat goes. In turn, sweat glands all over the body begin cooling the surface of our skin. Dog breeds don't have that luxury.
In order to properly regulate their body temperatures, most dogs pant. Panting involves quick, forceful respirations through a wide-open mouth. Think hot, doggy breath. While our fuzzy friends don't have the amount of sweat glands that humans do, they do sweat from the bottom of their paws as a supplement to panting as well.
There Are Huge Size Differences Between Breeds
Salukis are thin and long-legged. Chihuahuas are tiny and frail. The Mastiff, Great Dane, and the Newfoundland are a group of towering giants, while dog breeds such as the dalmatian or German Shepard are somewhere in the middle.
Dogs come in all shapes and sizes. The difference between breeds can be so astronomical that it's hard to believe every dog has a common ancestor. The American Kennel Club currently recognizes somewhere around 200 different breeds, all as diverse as their human counterparts.
Their Average Lifespan is Longer than You Think
What is the average lifespan for a dog? While it's true that they don't live anywhere close to the length that humans do, thanks to modern veterinary science, dogs are living longer than ever before.
While there are a number of factors, such as breed, environment, diet, and lifestyle that contribute to a dog's longevity, the average dog lives somewhere between 10 to 13 years. It's not unheard of for some breeds to live 18 years or more given proper care though.
They Are Amazingly Fast
Working dogs are built for a wide range of purposes. Hunting, tracking, retrieving, and herding all come to mind. Some dogs, like the greyhound and border collie, are built for speed and mobility, however. On a straightaway, a greyhound's speed is even comparable to that of a cheetah's.
They Speak Using Their Tails
Dogs may not be able to talk, but their tails speak volumes. When a dog wags its behind, the positioning, speed, and pattern in which it moves communicates a message to humans and other animals. A relaxed swishing can mean happiness. A rigid, upright tail means the dog is on high alert. Every canine speaks a complex and robust language delivered through simply, furry swishes.
Do dogs have a better sense of smell than humans?
Humans have five million scent receptors inside their noses. A dog has 300 million. Therefore, a dog's nose is 60 times more powerful.
Where can I learn more about dogs?
When it comes to dogs, there is no shortage of amazing facts to learn. If you want to learn more, check out the educational content at Animals Matter, Inc.
What is the average lifespan of a dog?
While some dog breeds can live 18 years or more, the average canine lifespan is somewhere between 10 and 13 years.