30+ Amazing Facts About Dogs You Can Save for Your Next Trivia Night
How many eyelids do they have? Can they outrun a cheetah? Do they poo in a certain direction? Inquiring minds want to know!
Credit: Yair Kivaiko / EyeEm / Getty
Sometimes it's easy to look into the soulful eyes of our BFF (that's best furry friend) and think, "Dogs! They're just like us!" They scamper about when excited, snarf down their favorite treats, and sprawl across the entire bed when they have it all to themselves.
Yet we must admit, they're not human, and their history, biology, habits, and abilities are totally different from ours. Here are a few facts about dogs that make for happy reading—or the ability to fascinate your friends. Helping with some of the heavy science lifting is Jo Myers, DVM, of Salida, Colo., who's a telehealth practitioner on Vetster.
Fun Facts About Dogs
- Myers says dogs didn't develop facial expressions that resemble humans' (like smiling) until they were domesticated.
- Even though your dog can't laugh, Myers says he likes it when you do and is motivated to do things that make you laugh.
- Dogs usually lick us to show affection (which might also help ease our pain), tell us something, or they simply like the taste of the salt on our skin.
- Through positive reinforcement training, dogs can learn to talk with buttons and even do math.
- Wire fox terriers boast the most Westminster Dog Show wins, with 12 Best in Show titles.
- Dogs are popular in the White House: More than half of all U.S. presidents have had them, totaling about 100 canine advisers in all.
Interesting Facts About Dogs
- It's not unusual for a female dog in heat to mate with more than one male, Myers says. So, puppies in one litter can have different fathers.
- One human year doesn't actually equal seven dog years. Here's the real way to calculate your dog's age in human years.
- Dogs usually have about 50 vertebrae as opposed to a human's mere 33. "Our necks are the same, but their thoracic and lumbar spines are longer," Myers says.
- Dogs also have 18 muscles in their ears (humans only have six). This means they can move them in many directions and hear different sounds with each ear.
- Dogs have 100–300 million scent receptors, compared to a human's 5–6 million.
- Canines also have more teeth than humans—they have 42, which is 10 more than humans do.
- Dogs yawn for different reasons than we do. Myers notes they don't usually do it because they're tired or have a buildup of CO2—the most common reason is because they're feeling anxious about something. They also do it to empathize with you when you yawn.
- Many dogs really don't care for our hugs and kisses. These displays of affection can often be stressful for them.
- Dogs prefer not to be tickled, either—even if they roll over and show their bellies.
Cool Facts About Dogs
- A trained bloodhound's tracking evidence is legally admissible in some U.S. courts.
- The United States has 75 million pet dogs, more than any other country.
- It's true: Dogs do dream! It's hard for us to say what they dream of, but some scientists believe they have the ability to revisit the activities of their day.
- Some dogs' noses notice changes in a woman's hormones and pick up on their pregnancy, or recognize when a diabetic owner's blood sugar levels are fluctuating, or are able to pick up on COVID through a person's shoes.
- Although cheetahs can sprint up to 70 mph in 30 seconds, greyhounds are actually faster overall, as they can maintain an average speed of 35 mph for approximately 7 miles.
Funny Facts About Dogs
- Most dogs are near-sighted, Myers says.
- Canines are color blind, but they don't see in black and white. Instead, they only have two color receptors (humans have three) and see in combinations of blue and yellow.
- Just like a fingerprint, each dog's nose has a unique pattern of creases and ridges, and no two snoots are the same. In fact, some kennel clubs use nose prints as a form of identification!
- Canines have three eyelids: the upper, the lower, and one off to the inside along the snout known as the nictitating eyelid. This eyelid serves three purposes—to protect the cornea from harsh weather, to produce tears, and as lymphoid tissue related to immune function.
- Dogs can only sweat from their footpads.
- Pups can be left-pawed, right-pawed, or ambilateral, which means they use both front paws equally.
Weird Facts About Dogs
- Like apes, ferrets, and mice, dogs have a penis bone called a baculum, Myers says. Researchers state that animals with this bone often mate for longer periods of time and have more offspring.
- Guinness World Records indicates the largest litter, as of 2019, is 24 puppies born to a Neapolitan mastiff named Tia in 2004.
- Also according to Guinness, the oldest-living dog on record is Bluey, an Australian cattle dog. Born in 1910, he herded until the ripe old dog age of 20 but didn't pass away until age 29.
- Rolling in stinky stuff is mentally stimulating, a way to communicate with other dogs that they found something cool, and also perhaps a throwback instinctual behavior to disguise themselves from predators and potential prey.
- Have you ever noticed your pup spinning in circles before relieving herself or settling down to sleep? Some researchers believe this behavior is connected to orientation with the Earth's magnetic field. And that when dogs do their business, it's usually on a north-south axis, which might have helped ancient canines with territorial marking.
- Dogs also sometimes kick their feet after relieving themselves to deposit their scent in that spot.