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Facts about Dog Hearing | Interesting Trivia about Dog Ears

Picture or a Irish Setter

If you’ve ever wondered if your pooch can actually hear you or if he is just ignoring you, you are not alone. It certainly seems that our dogs possess the capability to exercise selective hearing when the mood strikes them. Still dogs can suffer from hearing impairment just as humans do. A dog’s ear is a sensitive instrument and bears some similarities to the human ear as well as some significant differences. Whether your pup has the floppy ears of a Hound or the upright ones of a Shepherd, your pooch’s ears play an important role in his day to day life.

Fun Facts about Dog Ears

Dog ears come in different shapes and sizes. Some have a thick covering of fur on the outside, others get a fuzzy layer growing on the inside that must be removed to keep the ear clean and protected from damage. Though doggy ears have a similar function to our own, there are also some interesting differences to consider.

Here is a list of some fun facts about dog ears:

  • Dog ears contain many muscles.

Though we typically do not think of a dog’s ear as being muscular, they do, in fact, contain approximately 18 muscles per ear. These muscles enable your dog to use his ears in a number of different ways. If you spend any time observing your dog, you will soon see that your dog’s ears rarely remain stationary for long. Your dog may lift his ears up and forward at the sign of excitement. If Fido has been particularly naughty and received a scolding, his ears will go straight back. But these are not the only two movements dogs are capable of when it comes to shifting their ears. A dog’s ears may tilt from front to side in addition to being raised or lowered. Dogs also possess the capability to move each ear independently of the other if they so choose.

  • Dogs tilt their heads for a reason.

Many dogs tilt their heads in response to certain sounds. Though it is not known precisely why a dog does this, experts speculate that it could be to improve hearing or target more indistinct noises.

  • Dogs use their ears for expression.

While human ears are used only for hearing purposes, dogs use their ears in different ways. In fact, they way a dog uses his ears is an excellent means of communication.

Simply by observing your dog’s ear position you can learn a great deal about Fido’s current mood. Ears that are held in their natural position typically point to a dog that is feeling right at home. Ears that are raised to a forward position indicate a dog on high alert or who has detected a suspicious noise.

Aggression can be evidenced by ears that are as far forward as they will go and standing stiff and erect while ears pulled back and laying flat along the sides of the skull can be a sign of friendliness and sometimes fear. 

  • Dogs possess a better sense of hearing than we do.

While we are well aware that our dogs possess far keener olfactory senses than we do, little consideration is given to the similarities between the power of hearing when comparing humans to canines. In fact, a dog’s ears are far more sensitive than our own and are believed to be four times stronger than that of a human being. Sounds that are undetectable to the human ear such as certain frequencies are often heard by dogs; hence the reason why dogs often make excellent watchdogs. It is even believed that a dog’s hearing is so acute that he can pick up on the movements of termites within the structure of a home.

  • A dog’s ear canals are formed in the shape of an L.

The design of a dog’s ear canal is quite fascinating. Though its natural L shape forms a type of protection against ear infections; once bacteria, dirt or debris finds its way into the lower portion of the L, it becomes trapped. With this in mind, it is important to ask your veterinarian to give you a tutorial on how to properly clean your pooch’s ears. This will help prevent painful infections from bacteria, dirt, or yeast. 

  • Puppies are born without the ability to hear.

Interestingly enough, puppies are born both blind and deaf. Unlike other mammals who are born with fully mature eyes and ears, it will take several weeks for a puppy’s ears and eyes to develop sufficiently to be opened to experience the outside world. Typically by the time a puppy is two weeks old, he will begin to hear sounds for the first time. 

  • Dog ears come in different shapes.

The ears of human beings come in various different sizes, but they are nearly always the same shape. Not so with dogs. The shape of a dog’s ears is often dependent on what is typical for its breed. The most common types of ears include: prick ears (Belgian Shepherds, Alaskan Malamutes), rose ears (Greyhounds, Whippets, some terrier breeds), drop ears (most hound breeds such as Beagles, Basset Hounds, Rhodesian Ridgebacks), bat ears (Corgis), round tipped ears (French and English Bulldogs), or cocked ears (Collies, Australian Shepherds, Shetland Sheepdogs). Some breeds also have standards which call for cropped ears where the dog’s natural ear shape is altered surgically by a veterinarian. Some of the most commonly cropped breeds include Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, and Boxers. 

  • Ear infections are among the top reasons dogs have to visit the vet.

One of the most common reasons dog owners trot their pups to the vet is an ear infection. Ear infections are painful for your dog, but thankfully, they are very easy to treat. Your veterinarian will prescribe a medicated ointment or liquid to help clear up the infection and will also require you to clean your dog’s ears several times daily until all signs of infection are gone. Since a dog’s ears are incredibly sensitive and it is easy to damage the ear drum, you will need to have your veterinarian teach you the best way to keep Fido’s ears sparkling clean. To be sure to never inadvertently cause your dog pain, never insert a q-tip or foreign object into your dog’s ear canal. 

  • Some dog breeds hear better than others.

Certain dog breeds who have been selectively bred to work possess a more acute sense of hearing than other breeds.

  • 85 dog breeds are known to carry the potential of congenital deafness.

Some dog breeds are prone to hearing problems with the potential for some puppies to be deaf from birth. This is particularly of concern in dogs who are born all white. Though there are 85 possible breeds who may be affected by congenital deafness, some of the most at risk breeds include Boxers, Bull Terriers, West Highland White Terriers, Dalmatians, and Jack Russell Terriers.

Yes, dogs use their ears for more than just hearing. Our pooch’s ears can give us a great indication as to how they are feeling and even tune us into whether or not they are paying attention when we talk to them. An amazing sense, indeed!

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