15 Fun Facts about dogs

November 1, 2019

This article contains a compilation of all the FUN FACTS shared on Facebook over the last couple of weeks. We hope that everyone who reads them learns something new about their dog(s). 




A dogs nose is absolutely incredible! Their sense of smell is what sense of sight is to us humans. Their noses are far more superior than ours. Why?:

•The moist tip of their nose captures smells carried on by the wind, meaning they can pick up subtle scents from the air.
• Each nostril can smell separately making it easier to locate the source of the smell.
• They have 300 million smell receptors in their nose (humans only 5 million).
• We humans inhale and exhale through the same nasal passage. Dogs have slits on the sides of their nose where air is exhaled. This way the incoming scent is not polluted.
• Their olfactory cortex in the brain is relatively 40 times the size of ours (the part of the brain that processes smells).
• Their vomeronasal organ, located in the roof of their mouth, is another special olfactory system which detects hormones from other animals and humans. This way they can smell what cant be seen, for example our emotions, but even things like cancer or pregnancy!



Has your dog ever "smiled" at you? Their smile is likely a result of complex evolutionary forces, and of course we don't know how our dogs feel when they smile. There are theories that dogs mimic it from us, and that our positive responses to their smiles encourages them to do this more often.



It's amazing to see how dogs drink in slow motion (see video here)
Remember to provide your dog with a full bowl so there is room to curl the tongue, and clean the bowl every other day as bacteria thrive in it.


Not scientific but interesting nonetheless! Video on this topic is only 3 minutes, watch it here. (also love where the owner at the end says "are you coming or what?" 🤣)


Ever experienced your dog barking or being otherwise wary towards a person he/she is otherwise happy to see? Sometimes our contour changes and where we would think the dog would recognize us anyway they can struggle.

We've experienced this too with our ex street dog - my partner coming home with his helmet still on was not well received. Once he took the helmet of our dog looked a bit sheepishly and all was good again. Now of course he knows that "helmet people" are great people too!

Keep this in mind when people look "different" than usual, whether they are walking around with umbrella's, helmets or other attributes.

Oh and one more note on this: I had a client the other day and her dog responded nervously to a couch on the side of the road. Here the same thing applies: the owner could clearly see it was a couch (with the logic that it might be dumped there). The dog however, also lacking context, couldn't understand what that strange large object was doing there all of the sudden. This is quite common too and partially due to poorer vision. Make sure to give the dog time, space and a choice whether or not he wants to investigate "strange" things.



A dog's whiskers are very important. They are sensitive to even the smallest air currents, providing them with important information about the size, shape and even speed of nearby objects. It can help them gather information in the dark, which is helpful as we have just learned their eye sight isn't their most highly evolved trait (see fun fact #6)

But they also support the dog during daylight, as they pick up vibrations from the air. This could for example prevent the dog being poked in the eye by a branch or a twig during a walk.


A flying ball will definitely be on the radar of your dog as they are quick to respond to movement. But if the dog didn't pay attention for a second and the ball is already down on the grass they might have trouble seeing it.

Many of my customers will know that I am actually not a fan of fetching. A better ball game is to have someone hold the dog while you walk a little distance and put the ball down somewhere. Walk back with a curve and let your dog use its great nose (see FUN FACT #2) to track down the ball. Less adrenaline coursing through their body, less impact on the skeleton and muscles and very mentally tiring at the same time. And then a red ball is even great to use so it's hard to cheat.


Most of us probably know that dogs can perceive frequencies twice that of our human ears. Where we stagnate at 20,000 HZ they can hear sounds up to 65,000 HZ. For our dogs’ ancestors it was really important to be able to pick up on high pitched sounds such as the squeaking of a rodent. Natural selection made sure they became really attuned to such frequencies.

But where it become even more interesting is that they don’t only hear things we don’t hear frequency wise, but they are also able to pick up sounds within “our” frequency range a lot sooner. Anything over 3000 HZ will be heard by a dog way before we can hear it!


Do you recognize that moment when you turn down your car radio so you can see better? Especially when we think we might have gotten lost, and we want to focus on reading street names, a radio can be very distracting. Thinking about this rationally it might not make sense, after all you wouldn’t think that a radio affects your vision, or does it...?

Another common example is where you completely ignored someone who started speaking to you while you were just enjoying your favorite movie. Research refers to this phenomenon as “inattentional deafness”. Studies on humans revealed that concentration on visual tasks will render you temporarily deaf to normal-volume sounds. Brain scans showed that people were not ignoring or filtering out the sounds, but that they were not hearing them in the first place! The findings support a shared audio-visual centre, which, when depleted under load, leads to failures of sensory perception and awareness.

Now let’s look at dogs. There is an area in the brain called the thalamus. The thalamus is responsible for relaying sensory information such as hearing, sight, touch and pain. It also enables the dog to concentrate on one (!) thing at a time.

Hence, when your dog is sniffing intently (*reading his favorite book*), he will very likely not hear you! Be patient, wait for your dog to finish his “book” and then call him over. Never assume your dog is ignoring you on purpose.


This is because the Dalmatians spotting pattern isn’t due to having small dark “patches”, but due to having “ticking”. Ticking is where the base colour (in this case black) comes through the white fur. Meaning black is actually the base colour that is covered with white. This phenomenon applies to more dog breeds such as Australian Cattle Dogs, Australian Shepherds, English setters, Border Collies, Corgis as well as many Hounds and Spaniels.


With other words: dogs that have the option will stay with their mom until they are at least 6 months old. Only after attaining sexual maturity, which sets in between 6-9 months, are they likely to disperse.


A dog’s nose is the equivalent of a human fingerprint, both have a unique pattern of ridges and creases. Kennel clubs around the world already use the dog's nose prints for identification.

Megvii, a Chinese technology company, has even created an app that recognizes the different faces of pets. Owners can register their dog simply by scanning the snout through their phone’s camera. Just like how a phone registers your fingerprint for biometric unlocks, the app asks you to take photos of your dog’s nose from multiple angles. Megvii states it has an accuracy rate of 95 percent and has reunited 15,000 pets with their owners through the app so far.
(article as per 13 July 2019)


We have learned from Fun Fact #6 that dogs don’t have very good vision outside of 7 meters. Research however shows, that if they can see our faces clearly, they can pick up on the emotions behind our facial expressions!

When trying to asses our emotional state, dogs (as well as humans) focus their attention mainly on the eye region. But they also look at our forehead, nose and mouth to be able to encode our human emotions. Interesting addition to this is that they tend to look more at our forehead region if they pick up on positive emotions. If they see a negative facial expression they focus more on our mouth and eyes. Not surprisingly they completely divert their gaze when they see angry eyes (averting a gaze is a common calming signal that dogs give to communicate that they mean no harm).

Furthermore, research done in 2018, shows an activation of the right hemisphere in the canine brain when processing clearly arousing stimuli (negative emotions) and a left hemisphere dominant activity in processing positive emotions. This supports the idea that they are able to put our facial expressions in the right “category”.

However, there is one exception! Without auditory input, dogs seem to process human smiling faces differently than humans do. The right hemisphere of their brain gets involved suggesting they pick up our visual laugh as a negative emotion!! A possible explanation for this could be that the evident bared teeth with lifted lips, characterizing human smiles, could elicit an alerting behavioural response in dogs (as in dog’s body language, showing evident bared teeth with lips lifted is a clear message to back off.) Hence make sure to laugh with sound to not confuse your dog 😉

This was the last fun fact (for now). Hope you all learned something new and fun!

Make sure to follow our Facebook page if you want to learn more about dogs.


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Dog Behaviour Consultant

Motueka, New Zealand


email: info@knowyourdog.co.nz

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