Dogs have the ability to amaze family members, friends, and anyone who has the opportunity to get to know them. Whether your dog is food driven, loves to fetch and play or just sit in your lap, there are many things we take for granted about them, never even questioning why they do various things like to curl up in a ball when they sleep – it’s not for warmth – it’s a hold-over from their primitive instinct to protect their organs from predators whilst snoozing.
Let’s take a look at some fun facts about dogs, some of which might already know and some that might shock you.
1. Are Dogs Colorblind?
Dogs can only see in black and white, right? Some will say that they only see shades of gray, but the truth is – dogs can see colors. While they don’t see them in the same way as humans do, they can distinguish blues and yellows and variations of those colors. The notion that dogs have limited visual abilities comes from a 1937 manual called “Training the Dog,” in which the author, Will Judy, said the “external world appears to them as varying highlights of black and gray.” While dogs have heightened abilities to see in low light situations (they hunt at night in the wild), science now tells us they have cones, which are structures in the eye that control color perception.
2. Greyhounds Have Stamina
The first thing you think of about Greyhounds is their speed. Gambling enthusiasts marvel at their ability to maintain a 35-mph sprint around a big track without tiring, but did you know they can actually hold that tempo for seven miles?
3. Super Sniffers
The sense of smell is a well-known superpower that dogs have – some more than others. For example, bloodhounds have such an accurate sniffer that their tracking abilities have been used as evidence in court trials. Humans have around five million receptors in their noses, which sounds fairly impressive, but dogs have an astounding 300 million.
4. Commuter Savvy
Moscow might not be a popular tourist destination for Americans (roughly four times more will visit Paris in any given year), but if your travel plans include the Russian capital, don’t be surprised to see stray dogs on the subway. At one point, it was estimated that Moscow had around 35,000 stray dogs, about 20 percent of which figured out how to navigate the subway system. The New Yorker even did a piece on them in 2013.
5. Aussie or American?
Australian shepherds are known for their smarts and playfulness, energy levels, and a seemingly constant need for mental stimulation. So, what Australian breeder had the genius to dream up such a specimen? Well, the breed might be Australian in name, but they’re actually American-made. The reason they got the name is because in the 1800s when they were established, they were associated with the Basque shepherd, which is an Australian breed. Similarly, Labrador retrievers are from Newfoundland.
6. Ear Language
The more you get to know your dog, the more you realize that their ears tell a story. They basically have a language of their own. You know those dropped or pinned ears indicate happiness, such as when you return home after being away for hours. You also know that when the ears are “extremely pinned,” and the tail is between the legs, that can indicate nervousness and a fearful disposition. A fun fact about dog ears is that they have 18 muscles controlling them, so it’s no wonder they can convey so much information.
7. Dogs Dream!
If you’re among the 70 percent of Americans allowing your pup to sleep in your bed, you know they dream, as you’ve probably felt them twitching and perhaps even making little noises or chattering their teeth. Dogs, like humans, dream during REM sleep (rapid eye movement) and non-REM sleep. Also, like humans, dogs are likely just processing the previous day’s events as they dream.
8. Empathy or Sympathy
Ever felt like your dog is reading your emotions? Researchers have found that when dogs’ human counterparts are feeling intense emotions, the dogs are essentially “infected by it.” So, if you’re having a bad day and your dog comes and nuzzles you, there’s a good chance they’ve just read your problem and are seeking comfort from you, rather than vice versa.
9. Super Swimmers
Most dogs love water and many enjoy getting in for a swim, however, the Newfoundland is such a prolific swimmer that they’ve been used by water rescue teams. Notably, a Newfoundland named Whizz won an award in 2016 for saving nine people in the sea over his career.
10. Lefties and Righties
Roughly 90 percent of humans are right-handed. Similarly, the results of a large study published in 2020 reveal that the majority of dogs are also right paw dominant. Male dogs, the study found, are more apt to be left-pawed than females.
11. Presidential Canines
Warren G. Harding, president from 1921 to 1923, was the first president to bring a dog into the White House. Laddie Boy was an Airedale Terrier and was a golfing partner to Harding, famously retrieving errant balls. All but three presidents since Harding have brought their canine companions to live with them at the White House.
12. Tail Wagging
A dog’s tail is essentially an emotion meter. For example, you can tell when your dog is happy when its tail is medium-high and moves broadly back and forth. When they’re feeling blue, you’ll notice the tail dropped low or tucked between their legs. A slow sweeping wag means they’re confused, but an erect and rapidly wagging tail means they’re mad.
13. Sweaty Paws
Ever seen a trail of moisture as your hot dog makes its way across the floor? That’s sweat coming from their paws. While the majority of their cooling mechanism is through panting, the only place they excrete sweat is from their paws.
It’s estimated that more than a million dogs are named as primary beneficiaries in the wills of their owners. It has been documented in Investopedia that a German countess put $106 million in her will toward her German shepherd named Gunther IV.
15. Whisker Smarts
The whiskers (vibrissae) on a dog’s snout are packed full of sensory nerves that help them feel their way through the world. They are deeply embedded in the flesh and have a high concentration of touch-sensitive neurons, which means they can pick up on the smallest of pressure. They are particularly useful in low-light situations and can prevent your pooch from colliding with objects.
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