When there’s someone in your life that you consider your “best friend,” you’d like to think that you know all there is to know about this special person. From their favorite music to where they grew up, it’s hard to be a good pal without a solid amount of knowledge about them.
With that in mind, dogs are often considered “man’s best friend,” and as such, we like to think that we understand them perfectly. They’re just dogs, after all, so they can’t have any deep, dark secrets — right?
Wrong! There are several facts about our furry friends that most people don’t know about, even if they’ve had them for years. Here are some of the most fascinating things that you may not know about your dog!
1. Dalmatians may be famous for their spots, but the puppies are not actually born that way. Their signature black patches of fur don’t develop until they’re roughly two-to-three weeks old.
2. Dogs don’t curl up while sleeping just to look cute, or even to necessarily feel more comfortable. This tendency is actually rooted in their instincts to protect their vital organs at night (and to stay warm, of course.)
3. Some recent studies have found that dogs usually try to “go to the bathroom” in such a way that they’re aligned with the earth’s magnetic field. Both sexes defecate in the north or south direction, but only females prefer to urinate that way, too.
4. The idea that dogs only see in black and white is a total myth. They can actually perceive a wide range of colors, although it’s more limited than the spectrum that humans can see.
5. Dogs are able to hear sounds from just about any direction because they have no fewer than 18 different muscles in each of their ears. Theirs are much different than human ears!
6. Sorry to get personal, but we’ve got to. Not only does your dog masturbate, but he or she will continue to do so even after being neutered or spayed. In fact, dogs can become addicted to masturbating, which is often a sign of constant stress.
7. Most people know that dogs always have wet noses, but what they may not know is that this layer of moisture allows them to absorb scent chemicals, amplifying their sense of smell.
8. Similarly, everybody knows that dogs have a superior sense of smell compared to humans, but that’s a huge understatement. Their noses are estimated to be 10,000 to 100,000 times stronger!
9. The reason dogs run around in circles before resting is because it’s part of an instinctual “nesting” ritual passed down from their wolf ancestors. They’re just making themselves feel more at home!
10. With about 75 million dogs in the entire country, the United States has a higher dog population than any other nation on the face of the earth. Labrador retrievers are the most popular!
11. The wagging of a dog’s tail can mean much more than expressing happiness. Depending on the pattern, it can communicate different things, including curiosity, nervousness, playfulness, and even aggression.
12. Dogs are able to “see” more clearly by using their whiskers. This allows them to sense the slightest changes in air pressure, and even gives them a special sort of “night vision!”
13. The Norwegian lundehund (also known as the Norwegian puffin dog) usually has six toes on each paw — which is two more than the standard four toes that most dogs have!
14. Dogs are able to sense important changes in human bodies. That’s why there are number of service dogs, such as seizure alert dogs, who can help patients during focal onset seizures.
15. There was once a service dog named Kirsch who, after accompanying his owner to all his classes, received an honorary degree in mental health counseling. He must have been proud!
16. Petting your dog is actually great for your physical health! When you do it, your blood pressure lowers to a greater degree than it would during interactions with other humans.
17. A breed of hunting dog, known as the basenji, doesn’t bark. Because of the unusual shape of their voice boxes, they actually “yodel.” It’s been said to sound like they’re saying “baroo!”
19. Newfoundland dogs have webbed feet to make it easier for them to swim! In fact, their superior swimming abilities may be their most defining trait — besides their obvious strength and size.
20. The bottom of a dog’s foot often smells a bit like a bag of corn chips. That’s because their sweat glands, which are only found on their feet, have a natural yeast-like smell because of the bacteria.
21. Dogs often suffer from separation anxiety when their owners leave. One thing you can do to help reassure them is to leave a piece of clothing with your scent on it for them to sniff.
22. Dogs often get jealous when they see their humans showing too much affection for anything, or anyone, other than themselves. They just love you way too much for their own good!
23. Men are three times more likely to get a woman’s phone number if he has a dog with him. That’s adorable, of course, but that does leave open the possibility that she might just want to date him for his dog…
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24. Seven-year-old Duke the dog is the elected mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota! Not only that, but he won by a landslide. Really, though, who wouldn’t want this sweet little guy as their mayor?
25. Orient the German shepherd led his owner, Bill Irwin — who happened to be blind — through the entirety of the Appalachian Trail’s 2,100 miles. That made Bill the first blind man to complete the hike!
With all of this new information about dogs, you’ll definitely be able to impress your other dog-lover friends! Of course, you can also just go give your dog some extra snuggles, since it lowers your blood pressure and all.