by Mandy Tenenbaum
Think you know all the quirks that make up your pup’s personality? Here are 12 facts that reveal your dog may have secrets their wagging tail hasn’t given away:
- Dogs improve your health!
From higher heart function to lower stress levels, your dog makes you healthier!
Going for regular walks with your pup makes for a healthier heart, as it reduces your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. And talk about excellent mood-boosters! While occasionally causing stress (getting into the garbage, chewing on your favorite things, etc.), they are even better at soothing your overworked stress hormones. Did you know that simply petting your dog reduces cortisol levels and increases your feel-good hormones? And petting your dog soothes their stress, too. Pet away!
- Your dog “gets” you.
Dogs are capable of understanding and responding to human gestures, body language, and over 165 words—a level of vocabulary similar to toddlers. Many believe dogs only understand tone of voice, and while it certainly plays a role, research confirms that dogs recognize a familiar word regardless of the way it’s spoken.
Oh, and have you ever wondered if your dog loves you for you, or for the food you provide? Rest assured your love-relationship is mutual: Research proves your pooch can read facial expressions, show empathy, and actually love you for the relationship you have with them. (But food helps!)
- Dogs have fewer taste buds than we do.
Perhaps their mere 1,706 taste buds (compared to your 9,000) explains your dog’s eagerness to gobble down their own vomit. Dogs’ palates are far less sensitive (and much less selective) than ours. That said, dogs are able to taste bitter, salty, sweet and sour flavors—like their human counterparts, just to a lesser degree.
- A dog nose is a human nose… on steroids.
A dog’s sense of smell is up to 100,000 times stronger than ours while the part of their brain that processes smell is 40 times greater. The whopping 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses (compared to our six million) explains how some dogs are capable of detecting drugs hidden deeply within odorous chemicals, while others are able to sniff out cancer.
Dogs can hear frequencies much higher and lower than we can, ranging from 40 to 60,000 Hz (we manage between 20 and 20,000 Hz). Dogs also have approximately 18 muscles in their ears, allowing them to tilt, lift, and rotate each one in the direction a noise is coming from. What’s more, dogs are able to hear independently in each ear. So, if it seems like your dog is only half listening to you, it’s because he is.
- Those thunderstorms hurt.
While thunder can cause pain in your pup’s sensitive ears, recent studies suggest that the static electricity generated by thunderstorms makes your pet extremely uncomfortable, causing them to whimper, run around, and try to find grounded places to hide.
- Historical bed buddies.
Do you let your dog climb into bed with you? You’re not alone: Reportedly 50-75% of American dog owners sleep with their pooches. This isn’t a new phenomenon: Many powerful people throughout history kept doggy-bed companions, dating as far back as Rameses the Great—an Egyptian pharaoh whose pup was officially dubbed “The Bed Companion to the Pharaoh.” And size matters: 62% of small dogs sleep with their owners while only 32% of large dogs are allowed the privilege.
- Dogs everywhere!
Originating in Southeast Asia, domestic dogs have expanded to every continent on Earth except Antarctica. Americans top the charts in dog-ownership with an estimated 73 million pet pooches, followed by Western Europe where approximately 37 million pet dogs reside.
- How many dog breeds are there?
It depends! The World Canine Organization (also known as the Fédération Cynologique Internationale) recognizes about 340 dog breeds. The American Kennel Club, however, only recognizes 190 of those breeds. The AKC has divided their breeds into seven categories: sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy and non-sporting.
- It’s a popularity contest!
Labrador Retrievers have topped the AKC’s list of top 10 dog breeds for the past 27 years, with German Shepherds coming in second and Golden Retrievers taking third place. While these breed favorites may not come as a surprise, the fourth place-holder might: In 2017, the AKC named the French Bulldog the fourth most beloved dog in America.
- My dog is faster than yours.
As all dog-owners know, canines are capable of running at a good speed—usually in the opposite direction when it’s time to leave the park. While the average dog is capable of running up to 19 miles per hour, there are some notable exceptions: Greyhounds top the speed-chart, reaching up to an impressive 45 mph; and while there is some debate over which might be the slowest dog breed, at just under 6 mph, shihtzus just may (eventually) come in last.
- Extra reasons to spay/neuter.
Did you know that spaying/neutering your dog may increase their lifespan? Spaying before your dog experiences her first heat may prevent uterine infections and breast tumours, while neutering your pup substantially reduces his risk for prostate problems and testicular cancer.
It doesn’t end there: Male dogs wander to look for a mate when left unneutered, and females—when left unspayed—emit a pheromone that can lure a mate up to two miles away! Spay/neuter if you want to keep your dogs from wandering off to look for love in all the wrong places.
About Mandy Tenenbaum
Mindy Tenenbaum is the founder and president of DNA My Dog, a company that offers breed identification testing, using cheek swabs to reveal a dog’s genetic makeup. The company also offers a genetic health screening test, a deceased dog DNA breed test and a DNA test to determine if a dog has wolf, fox or coyote DNA.