21 fun facts about dogs

21 fun facts about dogs

Dogs have been by our side for thousands of years and earned the prestigious title of being ‘man’s best friend’. We call them this for good reason, because they are trusty companions who stay by our side and bring us endless joy without asking anything in return.

Dogs are certainly very interesting animals, and we’ve discovered a lot about their behaviour, traits and potential over the last few decades. Studies on canine behaviour and research into their biology have made us aware of some interesting facts. There are loads of fun and fascinating facts about dogs to discover, many of which you probably don’t know.

We’ve pulled together 20 fun facts about dogs that might just surprise you. If you’re a dog lover you’ll be intrigued to learn more about man’s best friend and the surprising abilities they have.

These great animals deserve our protection. That’s why it’s important to compare dog insurance for your beloved pup ­– and we can help you do that in minutes!

But before you find a great deal, here are 20 fun facts about dogs that will make you love them even more!

A line-up of small dogs sat together, ranging in breed

  1. They can sense our emotions

Did you know that Fido can sense your emotions? Whether you are feeling absolutely ecstatic or down in the dumps, your pup will be well attuned to your mood. Scientists have found that dogs are capable of reading our facing and learning our emotions.

At the University of Bari Aldo Moor in Italy they did a study which involved presenting 26 dogs with images of people expressing different facial emotions. Greater cardiac activity was present when they were shown aroused emotional states like fear and happiness. Numerous other studies over the years have also shown similar findings, and also as dog owners, we can often tell when our dog senses our emotions. For example, if you’re feeling down, you may notice your dog come up to you and paw at you or try to give you some affection. And if you’re feeling happy, their emotions often mirror yours.


  1. Dogs sweat through their paws

Dogs can’t sweat like humans do. The only way they can sweat is through sweat glands, which can be found on their paw pads. Another way dogs cool down is by panting. There are scientific theories that as well as helping to cool them down, the sweat that comes through their paws also helps them to grip the ground.


  1. Border Collies are the most intelligent breed

Yes, dog breeds are ranked in order of their intelligence. Dogs have been bred for different purposes, and for some, intelligence is an important part of the job they do. For example, border collies are tasked with herding sheep, which involves a lot of brainpower. They are ranked as the most intelligent dogs, closely followed by the Poodle and German Shepherd. Collies are top of expert canine behaviourist Stanley Coren’s list of smart dogs in his book The Intelligence of Dogs. Did you know they can learn a new command in less than five seconds? And they will then follow it at least 95% of the time. Now that’s smart!

A Border Collie laying poised in a grassy field

  1. Their sense of smell is 40 times greater than ours

Humans often don’t realise that a dog’s sense of sight isn’t as important to them as it is to us. In fact, their sense of smell is far more crucial. We see the world, they smell it. And their sense of smell is 40 times greater than ours. Their sight is actually only their third most-important sense. And what’s even more interesting is that they can tell a lot about another dog, just by the smell of their urine – including their age and gender!


  1. Dogs can only see certain colours

So dogs aren’t technically colour blind, because they can see lots of colours, just not all of them. They see the world in a slightly different coloured rainbow. They have fewer cone receptors than humans do, which basically results in them seeing fewer colours. It is thought that dogs can see yellow and blue, so if you are getting them toys, these are good colours to buy so they can see them more easily.


  1. Dogs can roughly be compared to the intelligence of a two-year-old

Studies have shown than a dog’s intelligence is comparable to that of a two-year-old toddler. The University of Arizona conducted some research where they tested the intelligence of chimpanzees, dogs and two-year-old humans. As dog owners, we all know that our pooches are fairly smart, but it’s still surprising to think they are, on some level, as smart as us!

A line-up of medium sized dogs of different variety

  1. Dogs get jealous

Yes, it’s true – just like us humans, dogs experience some form of jealousy. A study by the University of California looked at jealousy in dogs. They did this by watching 36 different dogs at home with their owners and making a note of their reactions when they were ignored by their owners, who proceeded to play with a soft toy. They found that dogs do indeed demonstrate what seems to be jealous behaviours.


  1. Tail wag direction says a lot about a dog’s happiness

Apparently, there’s a theory about the direction in which a dog’s tail wags. If their tail goes to the left first, this means they may be nervous. Happy dogs are supposed to wag their tail to the right first. So keep an eye out for which way your dog’s tail goes the next time they wag it.


  1. Dogs have a third eyelid

Here’s a weird fact. Dogs have a third eyelid. Yes, really. Humans have two, the upper and the bottom lid. Dogs have three, but why? It is called the nictitating membrane and it looks a bit different from their other two eyelids. It’s supposed to help protect the corners of their eyes from being damaged. It basically adds more protection, fends away dust and dirt and helps keep their eyes lubricated.


  1. African hunting dogs are super-successful hunters

Well, if you go by hunt statistics, these amazing animals actually have the highest hunting success rate. They are 30% more successful than lions! A whopping 85% of their kills are successful – now that says a lot about how well they work as a pack and just how talented they are. They’ve also got really large ears, which means their hearing is exceptional. Though it must be noted that despite having such a high success rate, they often lose their kills to other predators.An African Hunting Dog poised for action in font of leaf littered rocks

  1. Dogs can detect cancer

We touched on how strong a dog’s sense of smell is earlier in this article, but what you may not know is that some dogs can detect cancer. And that’s just by using their keen sense of smell. If you’ve not heard of Medical Detection Dogs, have a read of their website. It tells you all about the incredible capabilities of the dogs they work with. They say dogs can detect minute odour traces created by diseases like cancer.


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

Just like we have a preference over our right or left hand, dogs have the same with their paws. They might be more dominant on one side compared to the other. A study back in 2006 by Manchester University discovered that half of dogs are right pawed and half are left pawed. But did you know, in contrast, the scales don’t balance in the same way for humans? 90% of us are right hand dominant and only 10% of people are left-handed.


  1. There is a dog breed that doesn’t bark (much)

It may sound very strange to hear of a dog breed that doesn’t bark, but it is a reality. The Basenji doesn’t bark like other dogs; instead, they have other ways of vocalising. They are best known for yodelling instead of barking, which is quite a spectacle to witness! However, it must be noted that whilst they don’t choose to bark very often, and prefer to yodel instead, that doesn’t mean they can’t bark. It’s more that they are known for making other sounds. They also whine, whimper and even scream.


  1. Puppies are born blind and deaf

When little pups enter the world, they’re actually born without sight and hearing. Dogs are born with their eyes shut and have to negotiate their new environment without being able to see. They do this using scent, and with the help of their mums. Their eyes tend to open after around ten to 14 days, but it depends on each pup. They are normally able to hear around three weeks old.A litter of newly born puppies laying on one another

  1. Dalmatians are born white

The dogs we know and love for starring in the famous film, aren’t actually born with their spots. They are born white, and then develop their spots later on (usually three weeks after birth). These little white pups may not have their spots when newborn but we bet they’re still adorable.


  1. Dogs curl up in their beds for a reason

It’s actually so that they keep warm and protect their vital organs from danger, something they learned back when they were wild. So next time your canine friend curls up in a ball in their bed you’ll know why, it’s because it makes them feel safe and secure. If they were out in the wild it would mean they would be less vulnerable to attack.


  1. The most varied species?

Thanks to us humans breeding all sorts of different dogs over the years, our canine pals have actually become one of the most diverse species. Think about it, if you compare a Great Dane to a Shih Tzu, you get two very, very different animals – yet they are the same species. A study in The American Naturalist claimed that dogs are one of the most diverse species due to the difference in skull size.

A large variety of dogs sat in a line-up

  1. Three dogs survived the sinking of the Titanic

Did you know that three of our four-legged friends survived the sinking of the Titanic? Two Pomeranians and a Pekinese made it off the ship, probably due to their small size. The mistress of the Pomeranians brought them onto a lifeboat and Henry S. Harper saved his Pekinese.


  1. The world’s oldest dog made it to the age of 30!

Yes, according to records, the oldest-known dog was a ripe old age of 30 when it died.  However, Maggie’s owner lost her paperwork so technically she doesn’t get the top spot when it comes to the Guinness Book of World Records. The current titleholder is Bluey, an Australian Cattle dog. Bluey made it to age 29 and five months.


  1. Dogs' noses are all unique, like fingerprints

When you’re looking for the equivalent of a fingerprint on a dog, you turn to their nose! No two dog’s noses are exactly the same.

A dog with its head lifted and eyes closed sniffing into the air

  1. Small dogs live longer

If you want a companion who will be by your side for over a decade, you’re better off opting for a smaller dog breed. Great Danes generally live eight to ten years, whereas some smaller dogs like the Pomeranian and the Chihuahua live between 12 to 20 years!

As you can see, dogs are pretty amazing animals. There are so many intriguing facts to learn about. Some of the facts above demonstrate just why dogs are good pets, like the fact that they can sense our emotions and they’re very smart.

But the main reason why dogs make such good companions doesn’t come down to facts; it comes down to feelings. Dogs are our friends. They’re loyal, loving and bring us tons of joy - which is why we adore them so much.

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We all adore our pooches and wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to them. It’s reassuring to know that you’ve got adequate dog insurance should your dog fall ill or get injured.

Then you know they’ll be able to get the treatment they need and you won’t get lumped with huge vet bills should the unexpected occur. Compare dog insurance here and find a suitable policy for your pup. Get a quick dog insurance quote online today!

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