20 Dog Facts That Will Make You Even More Amazed by Your Best Friend

Read this fascinating trivia and you'll never look at your canine companion the same way again.

Your dog is your best friend, your shadow, your constant companion. Regardless of how close you are, though, there are some facts about your dog that you still don't know. Canines may be incredibly common, but they're still amazing—something you'll surely agree with after reading through this list of fascinating factoids. So when you're ready to learn more about your four-legged life partner, read on.

1
Dogs have 18 muscles to move their ears.

Terrier dog with one ear up and one down
Monika Vosahlova/Shutterstock

They're good for more than just taking scritches. These 18 muscles allow dogs to move their ears in intricate ways, which is important to picking up sounds. Plus, your dogs ears can give you a clue as to how they're feeling: If they're laying flat back against their head, your pooch may be scared. If they're pointing straight up, they're alert and on the case.

RELATED: You've Been Calculating Your Dog's Age Wrong, New Study Says.

2
A dog's nose is its fingerprint.

Dog noses poking out of blanket
Javier Brosch/Shutterstock

Dog noses have unique patterns that can serve to identify them, similar to human fingerprints. And in April 2021, dog food company IAMS launched an app that uses this fact to help reunite lost pups with their owners. After you download NOSEiD, scan your pet's nose and upload it to their database. If they ever escape your yard, any concerned human who finds them can search the app for a match.

3
Dogs may be able to fall in love with you.

Young woman kissing French bulldog
Svetography/Shutterstock

Thanks to science, you can know, for a fact, that your dog loves you back. A 2015 study at Azabu University in Japan found an uptick in the level of oxytocin (sometimes known as "the love hormone") in both dogs and their owners when they stare at each other.

4
Dogs sweat through their paws only.

Pit bull smiling and panting
Mary Swift/Shutterstock

Dogs have sweat glands only on their paws, not the rest of their bodies. That little surface area isn't enough to cool them down, however, which is why they ventilate and exchange heat through panting.

5
Small dogs can hear sounds in higher ranges than big dogs.

Golden retriever puppy having ears checked at the vet
In Green/Shutterstock

In addition to being able to move in various ways, dogs' ears are also able to detect much higher frequency sounds than human ears. In fact, dogs can hear sounds that are two times beyond our range—and it appears small dogs are actually better at it. According to Science Focus, that's because the smaller a mammal's head is, the higher frequencies it can pick up and compare in each ear. That's how they (and we) figure out where sounds are coming from.

6
Dogs mark their territory with glands in their paws.

Owner walking dog
Aleksey Boyko/Shutterstock

Dogs are not, in fact, trying to clumsily bury their poop when they scratch the ground after they go. They are just performing yet another territory-marking ritual. With the glands on their paws, they spread their scent and let other dogs know they are around.

7
Male dogs lift their leg when they pee as a sign of dominance.

Poodle marking tree
ThamKC/Shutterstock

Dogs' urine contains markers that inform other dogs of its presence, social standing, and sexual availability. Dogs lift their legs as high as they can so they can "distribute their message" better and allow its scent to travel further. A 2018 study found that smaller dogs try to lift their legs even higher so that they seem bigger to other dogs who may be around.

RELATED: This Is the Most Aggressive Dog Breed, New Study Says.

8
Dogs are more aggressive when being walked by a man.

Man walking dog in woods
Smit/Shutterstock

The presence of a leash, the sex of the owner, and the sex of the dog all play a part in the aggressiveness of a dog when they're being walked. Dogs being walked by men are four times more likely to attack and bite another dog. Why? Because dogs not only react to the behavior and posture of other dogs around them but also to people.

9
Dogs dream.

Dog sleeping on couch
Soloviova Liudmyla/Shutterstock

Not only do dogs dream as they sleep, scientists think that they dream similarly to us and replay moments from their day. You can tell that a dog is dreaming if they are twitching their legs or bark in their sleep. Additionally, small dogs have more dreams than big dogs.

10
Dogs do not feel guilt.

Dog looking guilty laying on stairs with chewed shoes and underwear
Tara Lynn and Co/Shutterstock

Your dog averts his eyes and adopts a submissive posture after you catch him chewing something he's not supposed to. That means he knows that he's done something wrong and is sorry for it, right? Well, probably not, scientists say. It's more likely that the behaviors that owners associate with a dog's guilt are their reaction to being scolded. They simply don't think as deeply about their transgression as you do.

11
Dogs can be right-pawed or left-pawed.

Husky holding up paw
Ellina Balioz/Shutterstock

Some of them are ambilateral, meaning that they don't favor either side, but some dogs have a dominant paw. Unlike humans, who are far more likely to be right-handed, dogs are pretty equally likely to have a dominant right paw, a dominant left paw, or no particular preference.

12
Your dog is as smart as a two-year-old child.

Pomeranian wearing graduation cap and sitting on books
MT.PHOTOSTOCK/Shutterstock

Back in 2009, per CNN, psychologists discovered that dogs are capable of learning the same amount of words and commands as a human toddler—specifically, a two-year-old child. The average dog can understand about 165 words, while the smartest of the smart can go up to 250. That's a clever canine!

13
Whiskers help dogs see in the dark.

Closeup on dog's snout and whiskers
Doucefleur/Shutterstock

Dogs' whiskers are packed with nerves and send sensory messages to their brains. They're multifunctional sensory tools that help them move around and orient themselves in tight places, especially when visibility is low.

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14
Dogs are not totally colorblind.

White dog winking against blue background
smrm1977/Shutterstock

Dogs cannot see the same colors that we do, but they are not colorblind. They have two color receptors, while humans have three. If you were to see the world through your dog's eyes, you'd see everything in shades and combinations of blue and yellow.

15
Dogs don't like hugs.

Woman rubbing dog's belly
MPH Photos/Shutterstock

Animal psychologists say dogs can be stressed and unhappy when they are hugged, because they see having a limb thrown over them as a sign of dominance. They'll convey that stress by licking their lips, looking away, or folding their ears. So go for a belly rub over an embrace whenever you want to show your pet some love.

16
Dogs can smell your feelings.

Dog nuzzling woman
Prostock-studio/Shutterstock

Dogs use their sense of smell to work out how humans are feeling. Studies show that they can detect both feelings of stress and fear as well as happier emotions. But there's no evidence to suggest that dogs act more aggressively when near a fearful human; in fact, they tend to mirror that emotion.

17
Storms can actually hurt dogs.

Pug hiding from storm
Irina Kozorog/Shutterstock

The sound frequencies produced during storms can actually be painful to your dogs' ears. Also, the static electricity that accumulates in their fur due to change of pressure can be unpleasant. So when dogs are freaking out during storms, they're not just unsure of what's happening—they may be experiencing a painful physical reaction.

18
Dogs feel envy.

Two dogs jealous of cat being scratched
Alex Zotov/Shutterstock

If you have more than one dog, you may have noticed that one will act perturbed when the other one is receiving treats or attention. A study done at the University of Vienna had dogs perform an easy trick for a food treat, only after a period of time, only one dog in the group would receive the reward. The other dog would not only refuse to keep doing the trick but also showed signs of stress. When they repeated the experiment with just one dog in the room, that dog would keep doing the trick for a longer period after the treats stopped coming. This indicates that dogs do feel some form of jealousy.

19
Smaller dogs live longer.

Woman hugging small dog
WAYHOME studio/Shutterstock

Smaller dogs tend to live longer than bigger dogs, and that's because larger dogs age faster. Within one study, large dogs were found to have a median lifespan of 13.38 years, while the median for small dogs was 14.95.

20
Dogs can help their owners live longer

Senior woman and dog celebrating birthday
SeventyFour/Shutterstock

Not only do dog owners tend to live longer than people without dogs, dog owners are also more likely to survive and recover from major health events, such as heart attack or stroke. Why?

"Interacting with dogs can boost your production of 'happy hormones' such as oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine," says the American Heart Association. "This can lead to a greater sense of well-being and help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. And having a dog can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, ease depression and improve fitness."

RELATED: This Is the Most Dog-Friendly U.S. City in 2021, Data Shows.

Alex Daniel
A journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. Read more
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