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Dog hearing and ear facts

10 Facts About Your Dog's Ears

Did you know that your dog has superpowers? Dog’s ears have a superior sense of hearing with incredible sensitivity to sound waves. Read more to learn about their hearing superpower plus why and how dogs use their ears every day!

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Dogs’ ears come in different shapes, from small to large, and from floppy to folded. Yet all dog ears work as funnels for sound. Your dog’s ears have at least 18 muscles working to tilt, raise, and rotate their ears, which helps them to identify and capture sounds from all directions.

Interesting and Fun Facts About Your Dog’s Ears

1. You can understand and interpret your dog’s mood by paying attention to their ears.

Ears that are standing up and facing forward mean that the dog is alert or engaged, while ears that are slightly pulled-back mean the dog feels friendly. Dogs with ears laid tightly back against their head mean beware, as the dog is scared or shy and could potentially bite.

Read more about dog body language here!

2. Dogs can move their ears independently of one another.

This means that one ear can be facing forward, and the other ear can turn to the side or back as the dog directs the ear. As previously mentioned, dogs can do this because they have at least 18 muscles to help their ears function optimally.

3. A dog’s ability to detect sounds at higher frequencies stems from before they were domesticated.

Before domestication, dogs depended on hunting for survival. Their prey, such as mice, voles, and rats, emit high pitch squeaks and make high-frequency crackling noises as they move in the grass or dry leaves and twigs.

4. Dogs’ ears are ultra-sensitive, and their hearing ranges are wider than humans.

Dogs can hear sounds from about 67 Hz to 45,000 Hz, compared to people hearing from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. Even in the still hours of the night, dogs' sensitive ears hear termites in the walls as well as the inner workings of digital alarm clocks. Dog trainers use this ability to their advantage to train dogs using ultrasonic whistles. These training devices use sounds at higher frequencies than those that can be heard by people yet are well within the range of a dog’s hearing.

5. Dogs have ear canals shaped like the capital letter “L”.

A dog's ear canal runs vertically toward the jaw before taking an almost 90-degree turn horizontally toward the eardrum. This shape makes it easier for dogs to develop ear infections and also makes it challenging for veterinarians to examine thoroughly.

6. Dogs don’t have the best hearing in the animal kingdom!

While dogs hear sounds at a much higher frequency than we do, cats can actually hear sounds at even higher frequencies than dogs.

7. We often rub our dog’s ears to show them our love.

Rubbing your dog’s ears also provides us with relaxation and has been shown to lower our blood pressure. Dogs love it too because when we rub their ears, we stimulate a calming nerve in the ear. This counteracts a dog’s fight and flight response associated with the sympathetic nervous system. Remember to give your dog a nice gentle ear massage at their next veterinary visit to help calm and reassure them. Fun Dog Ear Fact: Tigger, a Bloodhound from St. Joseph, Illinois holds the title for the longest ears, measuring 13.75 inches for the right ear and 13.5 inches for the left ear, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Those long ears work to focus the scent that bloodhounds smell with their extremely sensitive noses.

8. Have you noticed your dog tilting their head when you say a specific word?

Your dog can distinguish or understand certain words from others such as “walk”, “treat”, “potty” and more. This is especially true if they associate the word with an action, like attaching their leash and takinga walk or opening the treat package to give them a treat. When they hear the particular word that they recognize, you may see your dog give you an adorable head tilt in anticipation!

9. Puppies are born with their eyes and ears closed.

This is meant to protect these undeveloped complex sensory organs from permanent injury due to premature exposure to light and sound. As they grow and develop, a puppy’s ears and eyes will open when they’re around 14 days old.

10. Dogs' ears have special wax and oil glands that contain pheromones.

These special chemicals activate a social response in other dogs. You may notice that when your dog meets another dog they usually sniff their mouth and ears during their introductions.

Bonus Fact!

Like us, dogs seem to have their own unique music preferences, with certain genres more likely to have a relaxing effect. According to a study, reggae music and soft rock genres showed the most positive changes and resulted in more relaxed dogs.

Read more:

Examining and Caring for Your Pet’s Ears

How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears

Common Ear Problems in Dogs

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