A dog’s sense of hearing is much stronger than we give it credit for. It is essential for the protection of their loved ones and for their survival.
As a dog owner, I was unaware of just how hypersensitive a dog’s hearing can be until I observed my 9-month-old Scottish Terrier, Taylor. One night, while playing ball with her, Taylor’s attention suddenly diverted away from our game. She began to pace excitedly back and forth from our front door to our kitchen window. I soon discovered that her excitement was due to my husband coming home from work. However, her pacing began a few minutes before he parked his car and walked through the door. We have since figured out that Taylor can distinguish the noise my husband’s car makes amongst the many cars that drive down our street on a daily basis. As this has now become a nightly routine, I discovered that this incredible sense of hearing is not just a unique Taylor-only talent, but a proven characteristic within the canine species.
My Dog’s Hearing is so Much Better than Mine
A typical dog can hear sounds at four times the distance of a human. Canines are much better than humans in determining the direction a sound is coming from. Depending on the breed, dogs can hear sounds at frequencies between 67 Hz and 45,000 to 60,000 Hz. Meanwhile, humans listen to frequencies between a measly 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz.
A dog’s hearing is so sensitive that he can hear pitches that humans can not hear at all. Taylor and her other four-legged buddies can contrast between similar sounds that are pretty common to humans but hold special meaning to our furry friends, such as mommy’s footsteps, a familiar dog’s bark, and, in Taylor’s case, daddy’s car engine. They can also discriminate pitch, word pronunciations, and voice tone. This is the reason why a dog can learn and respond to his name within a short amount of time.
The Anatomy of a Dog’s Ear
The human ear possesses nine muscles while a dog’s ear holds a big 18 muscles. This gives dogs’ ears the ability to turn independently to capture and respond to sounds at a quick rate. Dog breeds who have prick ears, such as Taylor and her fellow Scottish Terriers, are considered to have the best hearing because the ears operate like cups as they regulate and intensify sounds.
Protect Dogs’ Ears
Due to a dog’s acute sense of hearing, he hears what his owner hears, but at four times the volume. Studies have shown that a dog living in an environment with continuously loud sounds, such as music or television at a high volume, blaring arguments, or noisy children, can develop behavioral problems as a result of noise stress.
Our dogs are highly dependent on their keen sense of hearing to survive and protect their families, both human and canine. Knowledge about this unique gift that our furry friends are born with can hopefully lead to a better awareness of our dogs’ environments so their hearing can be protected in the years to come.
How Does a Dog Hear?
- Birmelin, I. (2007). How dogs think. Sterling Publishing.
- Coren, S. (2011). Understanding your dog for dummies. Wiley, John & Sons, Inc.
- Mehus-Roe, K. (2009). The original dog bible: the definitive source for all things dog. Irvine, California: Bowtie Press.