Dogs are amazing creatures, they give us companionship, love and always there when we need a friendly face and someone to cuddle. But there is much more to our four legged friends than first meets the eye.
1) The dogs sense of smell is over 40 times better than humans. The part of the brain that can detect smell is far larger in the dog. The dogs sense of smell is far better than even the most powerful man made instruments. Their noses are so powerful they could sniff out one drop of liquid in 20 olympic sized swimming pools!
Some dogs have been trained to sniff out drugs, bombs, money and missing people. Dogs are used on search and rescue missions and can even smell out people buried under rubble and snow.
As clean as we think we are, we still smell to our dogs and every human has a unique scent like a fingerprint.
It is very likely your dogs sense of smell can pick up your fear, anxiety and even sadness due to them picking up adrenaline we produce when in these states of mind.
2) Medical detection dogs do something amazing. Due to their fantastic sense of smell they can actually be trained to sniff out medical conditions or alert their owners if they need medication- for example a diabetic patient when their blood glucose levels are abnormally low. These dogs can be life savers for some. There are even nut detection dogs for people with sever nut allergies . There have even been dogs used experimentally to sniff out Covid 19, cancer, TB and malaria!
3) Some dogs can out run a cheetah, most dogs are built to run and in general can outrun their owner no problem.The Greyhound is the fastest dog breed and can reach 45mph within seconds, Greyhounds can run at over 35mph for seven miles.... so beat the Cheetah with its 30 second 70mph sprint. So in a race the Greyhound would soon overtake the cheetah.
4) Dogs have incredibly sensitive hearing, they can hear much higher sound frequencies than us but also much softer sounds than us. They can also hear things much further away, around 4 times the distance. These traits also make them great part of a search and rescue team. It is thanks to their ancestors that dogs can hear so well. Wolves would prey on small mammals and rodents and their ability to hear tiny squeaks was vital .
This is why your dog knows someone is going to ring your door bell long before you, they heard the car turn up the road, park up and the person walk up the drive before you had a clue.
5) Dogs can sniff and breathe at the same time, their noses have developed so that smells remain in their nose while air can pass back and forth to the lungs. This means they can breathe and investigate all the smells around them simultaneously. Unlike us when a dog inhales there is a small fold of tissue inside the nostril to separate the two functions. Dogs can also wiggle their nostrils independently helping to determine which nostril a smell has arrived in so what direction it has come from.
6) Dogs can be great swimmers, yes some dog breeds are not really built for swimming, but those that are can swim quickly and efficiently. Particular breeds like the Newfoundland are used as water rescue dogs and gun dogs like the Labrador are great retrievers in water.
7) Dogs don't sweat in the same way as us, you have probably noticed they don't get sweaty pits! Dogs do sweat but it is mainly through the glands in their paw pads. You may notice damp paw prints on the ground when it is particularly hot. As dogs are covered in fur, if they had sweat glands on their body the sweat would fail to evaporate which is how cooling works. Paws are the most efficient place for them to sweat due to lack of fur here.
Sweating actually only plays a small part in cooling a dog, most of their temperature regulation is controlled through panting. As they pant the moisture evaporates from their tongue and lining of the lungs and they cool as the air passes over the wet tissues.
8) Dogs have 18 muscles that control their ears, this allows them to raise, lower, rotate and tilt their ears. they can move them independently and rotate them 180 degrees which helps when listening. Dogs show their emotions through their ear movement for example if their ears are pulled back against their head they are likely fearful or shy, raised ears show alertness and usually turn to the direction they are concentrating on.
9) Dogs are about as intelligent as a 2 year old, The smartest dog breeds are on- par mentally with a 2 1/2 year old. Tests have shown that average dogs can count, reason, recognise words and gestures the same as a 2 year old. The average dog can understand about 165 words, signs and signals! Super intelligent breeds are thought to recognise about 250 words. The most intelligent breed is thought to be the Border collie, the least is the beautiful Afghan Hound.
10) Dogs can be right or left handed (pawed) just like us, Dogs brains are organised similarly to humans, paw preference relates to the dominant hemisphere of the brain. While only 10% of humans are left handed, dogs seem to be much more evenly split when it comes to paw preference. An easy method of determining if you dog is right or left pawed is to fill a KONG toy with food. The dog will need to hold the toy still to get the food out. The paw it uses the most is likely the dominant paw. An interesting fact regarding paw preference is that a potential guid dog is more likely to be successful in their training program if they are right pawed!