A dog’s sense of hearing is second only to his sense of smell in terms of superior ability and discernment.
Short, pointy, floppy, and folded, our fuzzy friends have ears that are quite different from our own. Not only do their ear shapes differ, so do their uses and abilities. You see them every day–and chances are, you give them a good scratch.
Even during the quiet of overnight hours the world is noisy to your dog, because he hears sounds you don’t even realise exist.
Unlike (most) human ears, your dog’s ears are a central feature of his head and face. Dog ears come in every imaginable shape and size. Some are long and floppy; others are short and erect. Some dogs’ ears are covered with hair inside and out, while others are dressed in only a fine layer of fuzz.
And of course, everyone knows dogs have excellent hearing, especially compared to humans. But there are many other unique and interesting characteristics of your dog’s ears you might not even be aware of.
Here are a few fun facts that you may not have known about your pup’s furry appendages.
1. Dogs have around 18 muscles in each ear.
The exact number depends on the breed. This is why they’re able to rotate, tilt, raise or lower their ears. They can also move each ear independently.
2. They can hear about 4 times better than humans.
Since dogs have such sensitive ears, they can always hear something. They can hear electronic frequencies that are imperceptible to humans. Even during the dead of night, the world is still a noisy place for your do as they can even hear the pulse emanating from your digital alarm clock!
In What Way Is Dog Hearing Better than Human Hearing?
Dogs hear a wider range of frequencies than humans.
- Human hearing can detect sounds beginning at 20 hertz and ranging up to 12,000-20,000 hertz, depending on age.
- However, dogs can hear in the range of 40-60,000 hertz, depending on breed and age.
- Dogs and humans both lose some ability to hear higher frequencies as they get older. Higher frequencies equate to a higher-pitched noise. For example, a dog whistle produces sound between 16,000 and 22,000 hertz. This is out of range for the hearing of most humans but in the middle of the range of dog hearing.
- According to scientists, dogs only discriminate resolutions of about one third of an octave.
- Humans, on the other hand, can discriminate resolutions as fine as one-twelfth of an octave.
Dogs are very adept at filtering out some sounds, while remaining alert for others. Have you ever noticed how your dog can hear a car pulling into your driveway or garage over the sound of the TV, the kids playing, or other household noises?
3. When a dog tilts their head, it may have to do with their hearing.
While not fully understood, it’s theorised that dogs may tilt their heads to hear better or pinpoint where a sound is coming from.
Cocking his head may help your dog tune in sounds far off in the distance. (Or, it could be they know how completely irresistible when they are with their head cocked!)
4. Dog ears are not only used for hearing–they’re key elements of body language.
You can tell how much attention your dog is paying to you by watching her ears
- Naturally held ears indicates being relaxed and comfortable
- Raising ears shows alertness (and they’re usually directed toward source of interest)
- Up and forward ears can indicate aggression
- Pulled back ears are a sign of friendliness
- Ears flattened to head show submission or fear
- Ears are laid tightly back against their head, they are probably feeling fearful or shy
- If they are erect and facing forward, then they are engaged in what you are saying
5. Dog’s ear canals are shaped like an “L.”
It’s vertical toward the jaw, then takes a 45-degree turn horizontally toward the ear drum. This structure is one of the reasons dogs are prone to a variety of ear infections and other issues. The shape by its nature stops dirt, debris, and sometimes bacteria and yeast before it reaches the eardrum. But it also means that sometimes those nasty irritants get trapped inside your pup’s ears without regular ear cleanings. It is generally recommended to clean your dog’s ears with ear wipes or an ear rinse at least once a week, or after each time they go swimming.
6. Puppies are born deaf.
Puppies are born deaf because their ear canals are still closed. Most puppies’ ear canals will open by 10-14 days after birth. If a dog does not seem to hear by 3 weeks of age, he should be tested for deafness by a veterinarian.
Congenital (from birth) deafness has been reported in 85 breeds, for example, Dalmatians. Older dogs can develop hearing problems as well.
Another function of a dog’s ear is balance, and in fact, inner ear infections are a frequent cause for loss of balance.
8. There are about a dozen different dog ear shapes.
You knew that different dogs have different shaped ears, but did you know there were so many?
Some shapes include:
- Pricked ears, like on Malamutes or German Shepherds
- Blunt or round ears, like on French Bulldogs
- Bat ears, like on Corgis
- Drop or pendant ears, like on Basset Hounds
- Cocked or semi-pricked ears like on Collies or Shetland Sheepdogs
- Rose ears, like on Greyhounds
Tigger, a Bloodhound from St. Joseph, Illinois, holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for longest ears. Tigger’s right ear measures 12.75 inches, and his left measures 13.5 inches. Bloodhounds have such long ears to help direct scent to their sensitive noses.
Dogs with upright ears, such as terriers, tend to have superior hearing to dogs with floppy ears, such as hounds. It also means that dogs are much more sensitive to loud noises than are humans. Loud noises that are tolerated by humans may be scary or even painful to dogs.
9. Ear Infections Are The Top Reason That Dog Owners Visit a Veterinarian
Sadly, our pups get A LOT of ear infections. According to Nationwide Pet Insurance, ear infections were the top reason people visited a veterinarian in 2016. This painful condition could be alleviated if dog owners were more consistent about caring for their dog’s ears, such as frequent inspections, and weekly cleanings with a canine ear rinse or ear wipes.
Make Sure to Take Care of Your Pup’s Ear on a Weekly Basis!