Dogs and humans have shared an incredible bond for thousands of years. And as impossible as that sounds, there’s more to love about dogs than most pet parents realize.
So, if you think you know everything about your puppy, think again:
From falling in love and sniffing out cancer to racing with cheetahs, here are 25+ amazing dog facts everyone should know about man’s four-legged best friend!
25+ Amazing Facts About Dogs That Will Surprise Dog Owners
1. Dogs Have An Incredible Sense Of Smell – And 300 Million Scent Glands To Boot
The part of their brain in charge of analyzing and processing scents is approximately 40 times larger than ours. What’s more, depending on the breed, dogs can have up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses.
That makes a dog’s sense of smell around 10,000 to 100,000 times better than ours!
2. Dogs Have A Sense Of Time
If it ever seems like your dogs know when it’s time for their morning walks and evening meals, that’s because they do:
Dogs have a sense of time – as in, they get the difference between an hour and five hours – although they can’t perceive it the same way people do.
And since they know how much time has passed, there’s reason to believe your pet will miss you when you’re gone for more extended periods, too.
3. Your Dog’s Nose Is Actually One Of A Kind
No, we don’t mean that in a your-dog-is-so-special kind of way; when we say that your dog has a nose like no other, we mean it quite literally:
The ridges and creases on a dog’s nose are every bit as distinct and unique as the human fingerprint.
A noseprint, if you will.
No two noseprints are alike, meaning they can be effectively used as accurate and reliable methods of identifying dogs.
4. Dogs Show Paw Preference – As In, They Could Be Right-Pawed Or Left-Pawed
Are you right-handed, like the majority of the world’s population, or left-handed?
As it turns out, dogs show signs of paw preference, too:
One-third of dogs seem to be right-pawed, one-third prefer using their left paw, and the rest are ambilateral and don’t have a preference at all.
How’s that for a fun fact about dogs?
5. Your Dog Might Be As Smart As A Two-Year-Old
Your family dog can seem as daft as a brush – especially when you watch them chasing their tail. However, research suggests that dogs are about as smart as an average two-year-old toddler.
Border collies, the smartest breed of all, can understand up to 250 words and gestures, count to 5, and have a basic understanding of math, too! The same goes for poodles, golden retrievers, German shepherds, and Doberman pinschers.
6. Petting A Dog Could Benefit Your Physical And Mental Health
Petting a dog has a myriad of health benefits for both you and your pet, starting with the fact that it releases oxytocin, the so-called “love hormone.”
What’s more, it can help lower blood pressure by around 10% and improve your mental health by reducing depression, stress, and feelings of loneliness.
As if dog owners didn’t already know that about man’s best friend, huh?
7. Dogs Can “Smell” Your Feelings
Your dog – and that impressive nose of theirs – is capable of picking up subtle changes in your scent, mainly sweat.
That essentially allows them to “smell “your feelings, including happiness, excitement, fear, and sadness. What’s more, your emotional state can rub off on them, and affect their mood and behavior, too.
8. Dogs Might Help Detect Diseases – Including Cancer – In Humans
In line with their ability to sniff out hormones and organic compounds – some of which are linked to emotions – dogs can be trained to detect medical conditions, too.
Dogs are most famous for their supernatural ability to smell cancer cells, including skin, breast, and bladder cancer. Furthermore, they can detect low blood sugar, epileptic seizures, and migraines – and may even know you’re pregnant before you do!
9. Dogs Don’t Sweat – Except For Their Paws
You might turn into a hot and sweaty mess during the summer – but hey, at least your dog doesn’t have to worry about sweaty armpits:
Dogs, unlike humans, have the majority of their sweat glands on their paws. As in, feet are the only part of their body where they sweat the same way you do.
If you ever noticed a trail of wet paw prints, especially when accompanied by panting, that’s your cue to help your four-legged companion cool down a bit.
10. Webbed Feet Aren’t Reserved For Ducks Only
The Newfoundland dog breed is characterized by their water-resistant coat and webbed feet that make them great swimmers – and even better lifeguards.
In fact, these dogs were originally bred to help anglers and rescue people who were at risk of drowning.
Some pet owners have even reported that their Newfoundland attempts to “rescue” them when they’re swimming!
11. Wet Noses Allow Dogs To Absorb Scents Better
Ever wonder why every time your pet nuzzles you, their nose feels all cold and wet?
Here’s a fun dog fact for you:
Your pet’s wet nose can help absorb scent better and track it in the air, improving their sense of smell. It’s actually a combination of a thin layer of mucus that absorbs the scent and a little bit of saliva, too. Dogs lick their noses – a lot.
12. A Dog’s World Isn’t Exactly Black-And-White
You’ve probably heard that dogs are colorblind and only see shades of gray; most dog owners think that.
That’s one of those “dog facts” that turned out to be a myth:
Your pet might not see all the colors of the rainbow; reds and greens still look like grays and browns. But their world isn’t strictly black-and-white. Dogs are, in fact, capable of seeing blue and yellow tones – something called dichromatic vision.
13. But They Do Live In A Slow-Motion World
Ever wonder why your dog seems to be so good at catching a ball? These facts about dogs may give you an answer:
Like most small animals, dogs can process visual information at a much higher rate, at around 25% faster than humans. That affects their perception of moving objects, making it seem as if movements unfold more slowly.
For your dog, the world is in a permanent state of Matrix-like bullet time, where things move in slow motion.
14. Bloodhounds Can “Testify” In Court
Not “testify” per se – but a Bloodhound’s sense of smell is so distinct and spot-on that it can act as legitimate evidence in the court of law. Police departments worldwide work with these four-legged detectives on tracing missing persons and find criminals.
As if that wasn’t mind-blowing enough, these dogs can pick up scents that are more than 300 hours old. And once on the right “scent trail,” Bloodhounds can follow it for more than 130 miles!
15. Wagging Tails Have A Language Of Their Own
Not all tail-wagging is a sign of a happy dog; there’s a whole “language” behind these movements.
For instance, if the dog is wagging its tail to the right, it indicates they are, indeed, happy. A low-positioned tail generally means that the dog is frightened or insecure.
And if the movements are rapid and accompanied by dilated pupils and tense muscles, it can indicate aggression.
16. Three Dogs Survived The Sinking Of The Titanic
Of the twelve dogs who were on board, only three dogs survived the sinking of the Titanic.
All three – two Pomeranians and one Pekingese – were pets of first-class passengers and have most likely survived due to their size. They were small lap dogs, one of them a puppy, that were easily smuggled into lifeboats.
If they were a larger dog breed, like Ann Elizabeth Isham’s Great Dane, they wouldn’t have been so lucky.
17. There’s A Frequency In The Beatles Song “A Day In The Life” Only Dogs Can Hear
The 1967 Beatles’ song “A Day In The Life” is rumored to include a section that only dogs can hear – a high-frequency 15 kHz tone that appears at the very end.
Or so we’re told by Paul McCartney, anyway:
In 2013, Paul McCartney revealed that there is, indeed, a “secret” sound on the record that the human ear can’t detect – but will have your dog singling along.
18. A Blind Man, His Dog, And The Appalachian Trail
Bill Irwin and his guide dog, Orient, set out on a ground-breaking “walk” in 1990 and thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail – from Georgia to Maine – together. No compass, no map, and no human companions; just a man and his dog.
It took the duo – nicknamed “The Orient Express” – eight months and more than 2,100 miles to reach the end of the trail.
19. Dogs Can Fall In Love – And Get Jealous
Dogs are the definition of pure, unconditional love and loyalty; no pet parent would ever deny it. But can your dog fall in love?
Well, sort of:
Dogs’ brains can release oxytocin when they have positive interactions with other dogs – and humans – and they can form intense, long-lasting bonds.
And if your dog sees you showing affection to other animals and people, they will get jealous, too!
20. “Guilt” Isn’t On Your Dog’s Repertoir Of Emotions
Maybe it’s because they chewed on couch cushions, did their “business” on the carpet, or got into the trash. Either way, if you ever caught the family dog doing something they aren’t allowed to, you know the look:
The dog’s head is lowered, ears are pressed back, and they’re avoiding eye contact – even turning away from the “crime scene.”
But as guilty and embarrassed as your dog may appear, what you see is a combination of fear and discomfort. Guilt, as humans know it, isn’t an emotion that dogs can experience.
Instead, it’s a response to the owner being upset.
21. Dogs Dream Just Like People Do
It’s impossible to tell what dogs dream about; maybe it’s playing fetch with their favorite human? Or could it be chasing something?
But yes, dogs can – and do – dream, just like humans, and they likely have nightmares, too.
The twitching might be more noticeable in puppies and older dogs. But generally speaking, dogs go through the same sleep stages and show similar brain wave patterns during a standard sleep cycle as people do.
22. Dogs Curl Up In A Ball For A Reason
While they also get some cuteness points for it, the real reason why dogs curl up to sleep is that they’re hardwired to do so:
The curled-up position was their wild ancestors’ go-to tactic for protecting their vital organs and a way to keep themselves warm.
It’s an instinctual behavior – especially for dogs sleeping in the wild. And even though your dog enjoys the comforts of sleeping in your bed, you’ll still see them curling tightly into a ball to keep themselves warm.
23. A Dog Breed That May Actually Outrun A Cheetah In A Long-Distance Race
Cheetahs are thought to be capable of reaching a top speed of around 65 to 75 miles per hour, while greyhounds clock in at 45 miles per hour. You would assume that a cheetah would beat a greyhound in a race – but that’s only the case in short-distance sprints.
Greyhounds are long-distance runners and can maintain a speed of 35 miles per hour for up to 7 miles, leaving the speedy-but-strictly-sprinting cheetah in the dust.
24. Dalmatian Puppies Have To “Earn” Their Spots
Dalmatians are famous for their short, white coats and black spots that create a unique pattern; they’re the only spotted dog breed in the world.
But if you’re considering getting a pet Dalmatian, you may be surprised to find that the puppies are spot-free when they are first born:
Their coat remains white until the puppies are a few weeks old and develop their spots over time, usually over the next three to four months.
25. Dogs First Became A Man’s Best Friend Over 15,000 Years Ago
The relationship we have with dogs today goes way back:
There’s reason to believe that it first developed more than 15,000 years ago when humans started taking in and socializing wolf puppies.
26. Tallest, Smallest, Oldest, Heaviest: Wow-Worthy Facts About Record-Holding Dogs
We figured we should wrap this round-up of amazing dog facts by mentioning a few record-breaking dogs that got their spot in the Guinness Book of World Records:
- Smallest Dog Living: A 3.8 inches tall female Chihuahua called Milly
- Tallest Dog Ever: A Great Dane named Zeus, who measured 44 inches in height
- Oldest Dog Ever: An Australian cattle-dog called Bluey lived to be 29 and a half years old
- Heaviest Dog Ever: Zorba, an English Mastiff, who reached a weight of 343 pounds