We all love our dogs, so why wouldn’t we want to learn more about them? There are so many interesting facts about a man’s best friend that most people don’t know. We’ve put together a list of 50 of the most fascinating and fun dog facts, many of which you’ve probably never heard of before.
1. All Dogs Are Directly Descended From Wolves
So we know that dogs are relatives of wolves, but did you know that every dog is a direct descendant of wolves? Many breeds show a striking resemblance to their wolf ancestors, such as the Siberian Husky, the Alaskan Malamute, and the German Shepherd. It’s interesting to know that breeds like the Pug, Pekingese, and Chihuahua are also direct descendants.
2. There Are Over 75 million Pet Dogs in the United States
Recent studies show that there are at least 75.8 million pet dogs in the United States currently. This is more than in any other country in the world.
3. A Dog’s Nose Is its Fingerprint
No two dogs have the same nose. Each has a unique pattern to the individual, making a dog’s nose equivalent to a human’s fingerprint.
4. Puppies Are Born Deaf and Blind
Newborn puppies are still in a developmental stage when they are born. Both their ear canals and eyes are still closed at the time of their birth. During this time, they use heat sensors in their nose to detect their mother. The majority of puppies will begin opening their eyes and becoming responsive around 2 weeks of age.
5. A Dog’s Sense of Smell Is Reduced When Panting
Dogs pant when they become overheated, but did you know that their sense of smell is reduced by approximately 40% when he’s overheated and panting? It’s true!
6. Dogs Have Stellar Noses
The human nose contains about 5 million receptors. If you think that is a lot, dogs have as many as 300 million receptors. Human beings can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to have the sense of smell of our canine friends.
7. Dogs Can Detect Disease in Humans
Speaking of a dog’s stellar nose, they can be trained to detect diseases such as cancer and diabetes in humans. When detecting cancer, the dog is trained to sense the biochemical differences in the breath of those that have been diagnosed with the disease. Similarly, dogs can smell the fluctuations in blood sugar in diabetics by smelling a human’s breath.
8. Dogs Aren’t Colorblind
Dogs are not colorblind like most people think. They can see blue and yellow vividly but do have trouble distinguishing between different shades of green and red, causing those colors to look more like grays and browns.
9. Dogs Have Fewer Taste Buds Than Humans
Dogs have about 1,700 taste buds, while humans have between 2,000–10,000. Maybe that’s why we like to enjoy a variety of cuisine and our canine counterparts are doing well just eating dry kibble. Dogs rely on their scent to entice them at mealtime. They enjoy the aroma more so the taste of their food.
10. Dogs Are as Smart as Two-Year-Old Children
Stanley Coren, a canine researcher, has been able to determine that your dog is just as smart as a 2-year-old child. Intelligence does depend on the breed. Border Collies are considered the most intelligent dog breed. Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds are pretty high up on the list as well.
11. Roughly 45% of Dogs in the United States Sleep in Their Owner’s Bed
It’s something we may try to avoid, but our furry friends have a way of making it into our hearts and our beds. Forty-five percent is a pretty large number considering the number of pet dogs in the United States. So, either we truly enjoy sharing our bed with the extra body or we are just easy to guilt!
12. Dogs Can Learn More Than 1,000 Words
Some major Universities like Duke University and Yale University have programs dedicated to dog psychology. We have thus far learned that your dog has a pretty impressive vocabulary. They may not be able to speak back to you, but they pick up on quite a bit of what you’re saying! If only they could just talk back!
13. Dogs Sleep Curled in a Ball Out of Instinct
It’s so cute watching your dog curl up in a tight ball and sleep. Come to find out, this is out of instinct. They do this to protect their vital organs while they are asleep. They also do this to keep their body heat retained and stay warm.
14. The Oldest Dog Lived to be 29 Years Old
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest dog to ever live was an Australian Cattle Dog named Bluey. Bluey lived in Australia and lived from 1910 to 1939. He passed away at the age of 29 years and 5 months.
15. A Bloodhound’s Nose Is so Strong Their Scent Can be Used in Court
Bloodhounds are commonly used for scent tracking jobs like locating missing people and searching for criminals. Their scent is so strong that they can follow tracks for over 300 hours old and can remain on a scent trail for approximately 130 miles. Their sense of smell is so superior and reliable that it can be used as evidence in a court of law.
16. Lassie Was the First Animal in the Animal Hall of Fame
One of the most famous dogs, Lassie, was the first animal to be inducted into the Animal Hall of Fame in 1969.
17. Basenjis Are the Only Barkless Dogs
Though Basenjis are technically the only barkless dogs in the world, don’t get too excited and think you’ll have a quiet dog if you choose to bring home a Basenji. They vocalize by yodeling.
18. Dogs Have a Sense of Time
Dogs can sense time has gone by. They may not be able to look at the clock and understand it as humans do, but they can pick up on lengths of time that pass and they can even get on a routine with you.
19. Obesity is the Number One Health Concern in Dogs
Obesity is one of the leading health concerns in both humans and dogs. We know that obesity causes a wide variety of other health issues and will shorten life spans. It’s very important to ensure your dog is fed a quality diet, is not being overfed or given table scraps, and gets plenty of exercise.
20. Chocolate Can Be Fatal to a Dog
It’s pretty basic information to know that dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate. The real reasoning behind this is that chocolate is potentially deadly to dogs. Chocolate contains theobromine, a substance that dogs cannot metabolize. Consumption of chocolate, especially pure dark chocolate can cause toxicity in their body that can lead to death. If your dog ingests chocolate, it’s always best to consult your veterinarian.
21. The Beatles Song “A Day in the Life” Has a Frequency Only Dogs Can Hear
Paul McCartney has claimed that at the very end of The Beatles song “A Day in the Life,” there was a frequency added that only dogs can hear. We know they have excellent hearing and pick up on many things humans cannot. You may have to try playing the song and seeing if your dog gives any reaction.
22. Dogs Learn About Each Other Through Butt Sniffing
Dogs’ butts are home to glands that produce pheromones that give other dogs information about that individual such as gender, diet, and health. It’s a dog’s way of introducing themselves and getting to know one another. I guess we can be thankful it’s not the same for us humans.
23. Your Dog is More Responsive to Your Tone Than Your Words
Dogs tend to react much more to your tone than your words. While they can get to know a variety of words, they are much better at picking up on your overall tone. That’s why they may cower if you raise your voice or get excited when you speak in a high-pitched, happy tone.
24. Dogs Dream Just Like You and Me
It’s almost certain that you’ve noticed your dog twitching, barking, or even running in place as they sleep. Well, that’s because they can dream just like us humans. Researchers suggest their brains and sleep patterns are pretty similar to ours and they can form images and experience a dream much like us. Research also suggests that small dogs dream more than larger ones.
25. Dalmatians Are Born Completely White
All Dalmatian puppies are born completely white. Their spots are the result of pigmentation in the skin and they do not become visible until the puppy gets older.
26. Greyhounds Can Beat Cheetahs in a Race
Cheetahs may be the fastest land animal on the planet but they can only maintain that 70 mph speed for approximately 30 seconds. A Greyhound can maintain a speed of 35 mph for about 7 miles. The Cheetah will beat him in the short dash, but the Greyhound will win in the long haul.
27. Dogs Are Selfless
Dogs are one of the few animals in the world that have been proven to do selfless, voluntary acts with no expectation of reward. Other animals that have proven themselves selfless are elephants and dolphins.
28. Dogs Kick Backward After They Eliminate To Mark Their Territory
You’d think your dog is simply covering their waste when they start kicking back the grass after they go, similar to how a cat covers up what they drop in the litter box. That’s not the case for dogs though, they are using the scent glands in their feet to mark their territory.
29. Humans and Dogs Improve Each Other’s Health
Studies have shown that a human’s blood pressure goes down when petting a dog. It turns out, the same goes for the dog. Their blood pressure also decreases when being pet by a human.
30. The Saluki Is the Oldest Dog Breed
The Guinness World Record for the oldest dog breed goes to the Saluki. They aren’t a common breed but they date back to 329 B.C. as pets kept by the ancient royal Egyptians.
31. Irish Wolfhounds Are the Tallest Dog Breed
Standing anywhere from 30 to 35 inches in height, the Irish Wolfhound is the tallest dog breed. However, they did not break the world record for the tallest dog. That title goes to a Great Dane.
32. The Tallest Dog in the World Was 44 Inches Tall
The world record for the tallest dog ever was a Great Dane named Zeus. He was 44 inches tall when measured on October 4, 2011. Zeus has since passed away but still holds the record.
33. The Old English Mastiff and St. Bernard Are the World’s Heaviest Dog Breeds
Old English Mastiff and St. Bernard males are the heaviest dogs you’ll find in the world. These big love bugs can weigh up to 170 to 200 pounds. That’s a lot of dog!
34. A Bulldog Was Taught to Skateboard
Otto the English Bulldog rose to fame when his owner introduced him to the world and showed off his excellent talent in skateboarding. He even made the Guinness Book of World Records. Sweet Otto passed away at the age of 10.
35. There Are Approximately 600 Million Dogs in the World
This is a sad statistic, as it is estimated that nearly 400 million of those dogs are homeless strays. This is due to overbreeding and bad breeding practices. It’s best to get your dog spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted litters. Many dogs are euthanized each year due to shelter overcrowding.
36. Dogs Were Domesticated Between 9,000 and 34,000 Years Ago
According to a study shared by Cornell University, they determined that sometime between 9,000 and 34,000 years ago our canine friends became domesticated. They did this by studying both wolf and dog genomes.
37. Approximately 63.4 Million Households in the United States Have a Dog
A whopping 63.4 million homes with dogs is quite a number! So, you’re not alone in your love for dogs. Unfortunately, the number of dogs in existence far exceeds the number of homes available.
38. The Alaskan Malamute Can Withstand Temperatures As Low As 50 Degrees Below Zero
Not surprisingly, the Alaskan Malamute is built for the cold, but we mean the extreme cold. It’s not recommended to leave them out in it for more than a few hours. They tolerate heat much less effectively; they can get pretty uncomfortable at 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
39. Dogs Experience Jealousy
Studies have shown that your canine best friend can and will experience jealousy when you give your much-desired attention away to another dog or person. What’s the famous saying? “Dogs are people too.”
40. Rin Tin Tin Was the First Dog to Be a Hollywood Star
Rin Tin Tin, the show about a German Shepherd Dog ran on Friday nights for five seasons from 1954–1959. He was the first-ever Hollywood Dog Star. Of course, many were to follow.
41. Walt Disney’s Family Dog, Sunnee, Was the Inspiration Behind “Lady and the Tramp.”
Walt Disney’s dog Sunnee was greatly admired by his wife Lilly. Sunnee eventually became the inspiration for “Lady and the Tramp,” a favorite among kids and adults still today. Thanks, Sunnee!
42. Just Like Human Babies, Chihuahuas Are Born with Soft Spots
We all know to be extra careful with our babies due to the soft spot, turns out, little Chihuahuas have the soft spot as well. You’ll want to handle these tiny dogs with care.
43. Dogs Sweat, But Only Through The Pads On Their Feet
Dogs sweat an oily substance that is full of pheromones that humans cannot detect, that’s why we just assume they can’t sweat. Since they can only technically sweat through their paw pads, they pant to cool down.
44. There Are 18 Muscles In a Dog’s Ear
Dogs have around 18 muscles in their ears. This is why they can be so expressive with their ears. These help them to change the direction of their ears slightly to hear noises surrounding them. They also do a lot in terms of communication and understanding your dog’s body language.
45. Dogs Can Be Right or Left Pawed
Studies show that dogs can be right-pawed or left-pawed, just like humans are right or left-handed. You’ll have to pay attention to which foot your dog leads with. You can even try and toss a toy and see which paw they use to try and grab it.
46. Dogs Can Hear Much Higher Frequencies Than Humans
It’s no secret that a lot of our dog’s senses surpass ours tenfold. Dogs can hear frequencies at a range that double our abilities. Dogs can hear 40 to 20,000 Hz, while humans can only hear 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz.
47. Dogs’ Whiskers Send Sensory Messages to Their Brains
A dog’s whiskers are packed full of nerves and act as multifunctional sensory tools. They help them move around and maneuver, especially in low visibility settings.
48. Sound Frequencies During Storms Are Painful to Dogs Ears
It’s no surprise that storms make many dogs uncomfortable (though not all dogs). The sound frequencies they pick up from the storms can be painful for them. There’s also static electricity that can be unpleasant for them as well. So, if your dog has a fit during a thunderstorm, comfort them and try to be understanding.
49. St. Bernards Are Used as Search and Rescue Dogs
Their size, strength, and ability to withstand the cold have had St. Bernards used and search and rescue dogs for many decades. They are typically used in mountainous, snowy areas and have even been found missing people that have fallen victim to avalanches.
50. The World’s Smartest Dog Is the Border Collie
The Border Collie breed takes the cake for the world’s smartest dog breed. A Border Collie named Chaser knows the name of all her 1,000 toys, has a large vocabulary, and will bring things to you when asked. She’s pretty much a toddler.
Featured Image Credit: Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.