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50 fascinating facts about dogs

  • Dogs dislike bitterness, but it's not that useful as a chewing deterrent

    Dogs do dislike bitterness, but the taste buds that sense it are at the back of the tongue. So those bitter sprays might keep your dog from chewing the furniture, but only once he's taken a nice deep bite of it.

  • A dog's whiskers are an important sense organ

    A dog's whiskers are not purely decorative. They are highly sensitive to touch, and a large part of the sensory cortex of the dog's brain is devoted to processing their messages. They are an important way they sense the world, so they should never be trimmed.

  • Greyhounds can run faster than the fastest human

    Greyhounds are the fastest-running breed and can run over 35 miles per hour. This beats the fastest recorded speed for a human, which was around 27 mph.

  • Dogs can watch TV

    It's sometimes been claimed that dogs can't watch TV, because their visual system needs a higher refresh rate (number of images per second) to perceive smooth motion. However, many experiments successfully test dogs with video on TV screens, and modern TVs have a higher refresh rate than old ones, so now television looks better to dogs as well as humans.

  • Kicking poop is a marking behavior

    Many dogs kick their back legs behind them after they defecate, but they're not trying to cover it up like a cat. Rather, it's one of the ways they mark their territory, with the pheromones secreted by glands in their feet.

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  • Dogs do sweat, but it's not really how they cool down

    Dogs do have sweat glands, including in their paw pads, which help them release a little of their body heat. But because the rest of their body is covered with fur, sweat wouldn't evaporate to cool them off, so they mainly cool down by panting.

  • Dogs have a uniquely wide range of sizes

    Dogs vary in size more than any other species of mammal. Some breeds weigh less than 10 pounds, and others can weigh up to 200 pounds. You can hold a Chihuahua in one hand, while the Irish wolfhound is typically over 30 inches tall at the shoulder.

  • Dogs probably dream

    We'll never be able to ask a dog what he dreamed about last night, but evidence suggests that they do. Humans dream when in a state called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and dogs show the same sort of brain activity during sleep. So when they're twitching, foot paddling, and making noises in their sleep, they're probably dreaming.

  • Elderly dogs can have dementia

    Just like humans, dogs' brains may start to have impaired functioning in old age. Signs of what's called canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) can include disorientation, pacing, getting lost in familiar places, and staring into space. See your vet if you notice these symptoms because some drugs and supplements can help.

  • Dogs can sense the Earth's magnetic field

    Ever wonder why your dog takes so long to find the right spot and position to poop? Well, part of it is because dogs prefer to align their body along a north-south magnetic axis when defecating. Scientists don't know why, but it proves that they can sense the Earth's magnetic field.

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