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23 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.

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23 Fascinating Dog Facts You Won't Believe

Check out the list below to learn more about man's best friend.

1. Dogs have 18 muscles to move their ears.

They're good for more than just taking scritches. These 18 muscles allow dogs to move their ears in intricate ways, which is important for picking up sounds.

Plus, your dog's 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.

2. No two dog noses are alike.

dog nose
Shutterstock / Shrikar S

Each dog's nose print contains specific patterns 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.

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.

dog lifting his paw
Shutterstock / BublikHaus

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

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

Chihuahua with tongue out
Shutterstock / ElenaYakimova

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—it's actually what makes them such great rescue dogs. And it appears small dogs are even 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.

Most 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 legs when they pee as a sign of dominance.

little dog lifting his leg to urinate
Shutterstock / Ching Louis Liu

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 their scent to travel further.

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Zoology found that smaller dogs try to lift their legs even higher so that they seem bigger to other dogs who may be around.

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

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.

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 barking in their sleep.

Additionally, small dogs have more dreams than big dogs.

10. Dogs do not feel guilt.

dog looking guilty
Shutterstock / mlorenz

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, per the American Kennel Club (AKC). They simply don't think as deeply about their transgression as you do.

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

Some of them are ambilateral, meaning that they don't favor either side, but some dogs have a dominant paw, the AKC says. 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.

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

dog with toddler making a mess
Shutterstock / antoniodiaz

Back in 2009, per The Mirror, 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.

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.

14. Dogs are not totally colorblind.

dog looking at rainbow
Shutterstock / Sandra Lorenzen-Mueller

Dogs cannot see the same colors that we do, but they are not colorblind, Encyclopedia Britannica clarifies. 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.

man hugging dog
Shutterstock / Daxiao Productions

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, according to the AKC. 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.

A dog's sense of smell can be used to work out how humans are feeling. According to Psychology Today, 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.

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17. Storms can actually hurt dogs.

dogs hiding under blankets from the storm
Shutterstock / smrm1977

The sound frequencies produced during storms can actually be painful to your dogs' ears, says National Geographic. Also, the static electricity that accumulates in their fur due to changes in 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.

dog looking jealous
Shutterstock / M.I.R

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 2008 study done at the University of Vienna had dogs perform an easy trick for a food treat, and 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.

Smaller dogs tend to live longer than bigger adult dogs, and that's because larger dogs age faster. Within a 2013 study published by the National Library of Medicine's National Center for Biotechnology Information, 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

Not only do dog owners tend to live longer than people without dogs, but 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."

21. Some dogs can live up to 30 years.

close up of an old dog
Shutterstock / mythja

It's not exactly common, but some dogs can live for a very long time, even decades. That was at least the case for Bluey, an Australian Cattle Dog who died at the ripe old age of 29 years and five months.

Bluey, who lived from 1910 to 1939 in Rochester, Victoria, Australia, has been recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as one of the oldest dogs to have ever lived.

22. Three dogs survived the Titanic disaster.

Two Pomeranians and a Pekingese named after the first president of the Republic of China all boarded the Titanic and all made it onto lifeboats with their owners. Before the ship sank, each dog was enjoying the voyage alongside their stay in a first-class cabin.

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23. Stray dogs in Russia have learned how to navigate the subway.

dog in the subway
Shutterstock / Britta Prohl Dogs In Mind

Only dogs would learn to navigate a complicated and underground railway system in the middle of one of the world's most crowded cities. It's true. Moscow's "metro dogs" are frequently spotted boarding the trains.

Not only that, they seem to know which to board and when to get off. Its association with warmth and food is what attracts the dogs to the subway.

Wrapping Up

That's it for our list of dog facts! Be sure to check back with us soon for more ways to trivia. You can also sign up for our newsletter so you don't miss out on what's next!

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