9 Interesting Dog Facts You Need to Know
As a lover of all things canine, you might pride yourself on your unrivalled ability to recite dog facts. But as you know, dogs are amazing, complex creatures, and there’s a lot more to them than meets the eye. Here, the team at Barking Mad Ireland, has handpicked its top nine selection of lesser known dog facts so that you can add to your repertoire.
Interesting Dog Fact 1: Owning a dog can reduce death rate and cardiovascular disease
There are so many paw-sitives when it comes to owning a dog. But perhaps one of the most interesting is the fact that owning a dog actually reduces your risk of heart problems according to scientists in Sweden.
The scientists followed over three million people over 12 years and discovered that adults who live alone and owned a dog were a third less likely to die during the study than adults who lived alone without dogs. What’s more, the single adults with dogs were 36 per cent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease.
Interesting Fact 2: Dogs have different ways of telling us what they want
Most of us know our dogs inside out, and can tell what they want just from their body language. But did you know that our furry friends use a combination of at least 19 distinct gestures to tell us things?
A recent study published in the journal Animal Cognition, showed that these gestures, such as head tilting and pawing, might signal that your dog wants feeding. In fact, dogs are so advanced, that they talk in their own language, in a similar way to how great apes interact. But even more impressive, is that they can do it cross species – dog to human!
If you think about it, you can probably find many instances when your dog has talked to you in his or her own way.
Interesting Dog Fact 3: Dogs get jealous too!
Research from scientists in California has shown that dogs do get jealous, and they’re much more likely to display signs of grumpiness if they feel pushed out or excluded from affection. They found that dogs do not only exhibit jealous behaviours, but also seek to break up the connection between their owner and perceived rivals.
This research shows that other animals get upset when a rival usurps a loved one’s affection, and that jealousy is not simply a human construction. So, the next time you go to pet another pooch, watch out for the green-eyed monster!
Interesting Dog Fact 4: Dogs are smarter than you might think
You might think your dog is as daft as a brush, but that’s not necessarily the case, says leading canine researcher Stanley Coren. He found that dogs are more clever than we first thought, being able to intentionally deceive other dogs and people to get treats, understand over 150 words, and even perform simple mathematical calculations!
Coren, who has written more than half-dozen books on dogs and dog behaviour, has reviewed a large number of studies to conclude that a dog’s intelligence is not far away from humans and other primates. In fact, Coren says that a dog’s mental ability can be close to a human child between two and two and a half years old. So, while your dog might not yet be clocking up the numbers on Countdown just yet, they’re more capable than you might have first thought!
Which dog breeds are the most intelligent?
Extensive data shows that the working and obedience intelligence of dog can largely be determined by breed. Coren states that ‘Border Collies are number one; Poodles are second, followed by German Shepherds. Fourth on the list is Golden Retrievers; fifth, Dobermans; sixth, Shetland Sheepdogs; and finally, Labrador Retrievers.’ Whether you think or even care whether your dog is intelligent, we’re sure you’d love them, whatever the weather!
Interesting Dog Fact 5: Dogs can be identified by their nose
In us humans, our fingerprint serves as our unique identifier, setting us apart from our fellow people. But for dogs, their noses don’t just have great sniffing capabilities, but also act as their very own version of a fingerprint.
Much like human fingerprints, each dog’s nose is unique to them – and no two dog noses will be the same. Each one has their own shape, pattern, texture and ridges, which all come together to make a distinctive pattern unique to its owner.
While collars and tags can fall off, a dog’s nose cannot change. Therefore, it can be the most reliable method of dog identification, even when a pet is not microchipped. While dog nose printing isn’t as common here in Ireland, in Canada, it’s practiced regularly with the Canadian Kennel Club using nose prints as a way to identify dogs since 1938!
Interesting Dog Fact 6: Our pet pooches have unique bodily features
Dogs are amazing creatures, and have some interesting bodily quirks. Did you know that:
- Dogs have a third eyelid, also called a nictitating membrane, which helps to keep their eyes moist?
- Unlike humans, dog’s shoulder blades aren’t attached to the skeleton, which provides greater flexibility when running?
- Or that their sweat glands are located around the foot glands, meaning they mainly sweat from the soles of their feet?
- How about their ability to shake 70 per cent of water off their fur within a staggering four seconds, generating more G-force than Formula One Drivers experience in sharp corners?
We were shocked at the last one too. Apparently, a dog’s ability to shake off moisture so quickly is all down to their backbone and the loose skin surrounding it. Because the skin is loose, it moves further and faster than their backbone, and can generate nine times as much force on the water droplets, helping to fling them off. Clever, eh?
Interesting Dog Fact 7: Dogs can empathise
Throughout history, scientists believed yawning was a way of keeping the brain cool. But more recent research has shown that there’s a correlation between the susceptibility for contagious yawning and human empathy. Well, according to a psychologist from the University of London, human yawns are also contagious for domestic dogs.
The scientists have reasoned that a dog’s unique ability to interact and empathise with humans has come from the result of selection pressures throughout the domestication process. It is this empathy, they say, that can cause a dog to yawn when a human does, and vice-versa.
So next time you feel a yawn coming on, try a little trick of your own and see if your dog copies you!
Interesting Dog Fact 8: Dogs can help protect you from allergies and lose weight
The health benefits of owning and regularly walking a dog are well documented, but did you know that research also shows that it can help protect you from allergies and help you lose weight, with no extra exercise required?
Sound too good to be true? Want to know the secret behind your fluffy friend’s superpower?
Their germs! Researchers from the University of Alabama found studied families with pets (70% of which were dogs) and found that babies in those homes had higher levels of two types of microbes, Ruminococcus and Oscillospira. These types of bacteria can be brought in on your pet’s paws and fur, and exposure to these microbes early in life can lower the risk of allergic disease and obesity later in life.
So, while it’s fair to say that owning a dog won’t keep you trim forever, it can play a positive role in your general health and wellbeing.
Interesting Dog Fact 9: Dogs can fall in love, too!
Dogs are well known for being man’s best friend, full of admiration and loyalty towards their owners. But research also shows that they are capable of feeling romantic love. It’s all down to a neurochemical called oxytocin, which you might have heard dubbed ‘the love hormone’. When we are with someone that we really like or love, the level of oxytocin in our bodies increases and makes us feel happy. The the same is true in dogs, showing they really are capable of love as we know it.
So, next time you watch Lady and The Tramp slurping on their spaghetti, you can be safe in the knowledge that doggy love is for real.