Dogs are amazing! But beyond being man’s best friend, they are capable of some truly incredible things that you might not know about. Sometimes strange, sometimes crazy, and often just plain adorable—here are our favorite dog facts!
Some dogs can detect human illness
Have you ever felt like your canine companion has something of a sixth sense? You’re not far wrong! Although there’s no mysterious ‘sixth sense’, dogs do have the incredible ability to smell disease. Scientists don’t yet fully understand this phenomenon, but a lot of research has focused on this weird and wonderful canine ability.
Some researchers believe dogs are able to pick up on the scents generated by tiny hormonal changes in the human body, some of which indicate illness. It’s hardly surprising, when you come to think of just how incredible a dog’s sense of smell really is…
A dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 times better than ours
A dog’s sense of smell really is 10,000 times better than our own! They have over three hundred million olfactory receptors in their nose, in comparison to a human being’s mere six million.
And that’s not the only thing that they have over the human nose. Have you ever looked closely at your dog trying to sniff out a particular smell? You might have noticed that their nostrils can move independently. It’s this amazing dog fact that helps sniffer dogs to determine exactly where a smell is located.
Dogs’ noses are wet for a reason
Having a great sense of smell isn't easy. Dogs’ noses are perfectly designed for the tough task – and that’s why their noses are so wet.
The damp nose of your dog helps them absorb the ‘scent chemicals’ – that’s what we interpret as a ‘smell’. They may even lick their noses to see what the smells ‘tastes’ like too. (You might have noticed that smell plays a large part in our sense of taste, too – if you eat while pinching your nostrils shut, you won’t be able to taste as well.)
The ‘dampness’ is a thin covering of mucus on your dog’s nose. But don’t worry – that’s completely normal.
Dogs dream just like we do
Ever noticed your pup whimpering or even barking in their sleep? It might be because they’re dreaming. Research shows that dogs’ brains display the same wave patterns during sleep as human beings.
We also know that small dogs dream far more frequently than big dogs. So, if you’ve got a Chihuahua on your hands, watch out for some serious nighttime activity!
What we don’t know is just what our canine companions are dreaming about. It doesn’t show up on tests, but we’d put money on it involving a dog bowl near dinnertime…
Dogs can see in the dark
The science behind this dog fact is pretty incredible. As well as having larger pupils than us, to let in more light, dogs also have what is called a ‘tapetum’ at the back of their eyes. This acts almost like a mirror, reflecting light back to the retina. Have you noticed that your dog’s eyes sometimes seem to glow in the dark? It’s the tapetum in their eyes that causes this freaky phenomenon!
Dogs can tell the time
Okay, your pet might not actually be able to read the clock, but have you heard the rumor that dogs can't tell how much time has gone by? Not true!
All animals have what is known as a ‘circadian rhythm’, which means that they respond to changes in light and dark.
Biologically, dogs are programmed to note the passing time: to feel sleepy when it gets dark and wake up when it’s light.
Dogs have also evolved to pick up on their owners’ habits. Your dog might, for example, start bothering you when it gets close to dinnertime. That’s not because they can read the clock, it’s because they’re become accustomed to your routine.
Your dog is as intelligent as your toddler
It’s been proven! Well, they understand the same amount of words, at least.
Not all dogs are of equal intelligence, but researchers have found that the average dog is capable of completing the same developmental tests as a two-year-old human. Some breeds were able to understand up to 250 words and signals. Incredible!
But which breeds topped the list? Retrievers and collies were among the smartest dogs tested, whilst terriers and hounds ranker significantly lower. But despite that divisive dog fact, we love them all equally!
Dogs lower your blood pressure
Has your dog ever eases your worries simply by sitting by your side? This dog fact proves it’s not all in your head!
Stroking a dog has been shown to reduce stress in humans by lowering blood pressure. It even helps to release a relaxation hormone. And that’s not the only way that dogs are keeping people healthy: dog owners on average are shown to be healthier due to the increased amount of exercise they get.
Dogs curl when they sleep for a reason
All dogs sleep in that same cosy, curled-up shape, but have you ever wondered why?
Dogs instinctively adopt this position when they go to sleep in order to maximise their body heat and protect their vital organs. It’s something that evolved from their days in the wild, but still features in domestic dogs today.