We’re going to do a little experiment.
Close you eyes, and put your hands on your ears. Now, take a few sniffs. What can you smell?
Barely anything right? Maybe if you have dinner cooking, or some incense or scented candles you can get a nice whiff, but human noses are almost completely useless.
Sure, we can smell a flower if it is right under our nose, but that is the equivalent of only seeing a tv screen if it is inches from our face.
Dogs however… they are a different story altogether. In fact, if we make an analogy to vision, if humans could see a third of a mile, a dog could see for three thousand.
Your feet were made for running, and your nose was made to smell, though for some humans it is the other way around!
Incredibly, dogs are not even the best sniffers in the world. That prize goes to bears, elephants (no surprise there, have you seen an elephant's nose?), sharks (though because they smell underwater some claim this is a different sense and not in fact smell), kiwi birds, and strangely enough, male silkmoths.
However, as interesting as that bit of trivia may be, we are a dog charity, not a moth charity, and as next week is Science Week, we thought it might be fun to focus on the more scientific aspects of our canine companions in this week’s blog.
And it’s not just a Dog’s nose that eclipses our paltry senses. Their sense of hearing is also far greater. Have you ever noticed your dog’s ear prick up even though you cannot hear anything? That is because their hearing is far more acute than ours, and they can pick up sounds at a much higher frequency than we can (this is why so many dogs find fire alarms uncomfortable, and fireworks extremely scary).
Ear ye, Ear ye
Another aspect that helps their hearing, is the muscles in their ears. We have six muscles in our ear, and, if you think about it, we’re don’t really move our ears very often, do we? If we want to hear something, we tilt our entire head in the direction of the sound-though some people can wiggle their ear a bit, but I’m not sure if that will help them hear better…
A dog on the other hand, has 18 muscles per ear, so they can pivot their ears to capture any sounds.
But what about sight? Well…their eyesight may not actually be as good as ours. Many people assume dogs see in black and white, but this is a myth.
These blog puns are getting cornea
They do however, live in a slightly duller world than we do (in terms of colour at least), and their perception of colour is not unlike a red-green colour blind person. They are also slightly close sighted, and cannot see distances to the same extent we do-they don’t need to when their noses and ears do all the work for them.
Its all very good you reading this, and believing us, but that isn’t really how science works, is it?
Science is about research, experiments, explosions!
Well, we can’t help you with the last thing, but we can do something about the first two items. We have created a downloadable pack for families, classrooms, or anyone who wants to examine how different a dog’s senses are from our own. You can download these from our What’s Happening page on our website.
So go forth and experiment. We can’t wait to see how you get on, and please send us on some photos of your project and dog toy designs—There are prizes for the best submissions, and we'll feature your work on this very blog.
Smell ya later.