Can Dogs Hear Better Than Humans?

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Introduction

It's no secret that dogs have excellent hearing, but do you know just how well they can really hear? How many times has your dog started barking at seemingly nothing, leaving you curious about what, exactly, they are hearing that you aren't? 

No, your pup isn't losing their mind, they simply have much better hearing than humans do. From the number of muscles in a dog's ear to the added control they have over their ears, there are many factors that contribute to why dogs hear better than humans.

Sure, humans are able to detect specific sounds and the direction they are coming from, but dogs are able to use their ears independently in order to more efficiently process where the sounds are coming from. Pretty cool, if you ask us! 

Signs Your Dog Can Hear Better Than You

How many times have you called your dog to come in from the yard, only to have them seemingly feign their ability to hear? Well, we now know that they are straight-up ignoring you. Just like humans, dogs often practice selective hearing, especially when they don't want to do something! In reality, dogs have an uncanny ability to hear and are also able to filter out sounds, something us humans can't do. 

Your dog will likely display a handful of specific signs that will indicate not only that can they hear you, but they can hear better than you. These may include perked ears, a tilted head, wagging tail, and the fur on their back may become ruffled. Every dog is different, so it's important to observe your pooch and learn their  specific behavioral traits. This will not only help you bond with your dog, but it will give you insight as to when they sense something (whether another person or animal) and are on alert. 

So, next time you think your dog is barking at 'nothing', remember just how excellent their hearing is and consider they fact they may be picking up on something you could only dream of hearing. 

Body Language

Here are some signs your dog has excellent hearing:
  • Alert
  • Head tilting
  • Listening
  • Head turning
  • Back hair on edge
  • Tail up
  • Ears up

Other Signs

These are other signs your dog is hearing something you are not:
  • Barking
  • Growling
  • Stiff body language

History of Dogs Hearing Better Than Humans

For as long as we've studied and understood dogs, it has been common knowledge that they have much better hearing than humans. Many years ago we may not have known the specific frequency they can hear at compared to humans, but researchers, scientists, and veterinarians alike knew just how much dogs relied on their hearing. 

Along with their sense of smell, a dog's ability to hear is what allows them to adapt to different environments and stay in-tune with their surroundings. We've also come to learn that dogs interpret sound much differently than we do at times. 

They have an associative memory, which means they may howl or bark at a specific sound (such as your keys jingling) because they know it means you are leaving or have just arrived home.

Science Behind Dogs Hearing Better Than Humans

Dogs have a much greater hearing ability than humans, actually being able to hear nearly twice as well. Whereas humans can hear sounds up to about 23,000 Hertz, dogs can hear noises that reach more than 45,000 Hertz. No wonder Fido is constantly barking at something we think is imaginary! On the low end, humans can hear noises around 64 Hertz compared to 67 Hertz for dogs. This last tidbit is interesting, as it shows that dogs and humans are about the same when it comes to the low end of the spectrum. 

One of the reasons dogs can hear so well - and much better than humans - at a high pitch is because they have 18 muscles in their ears, all of which work together and allow them to hear sounds coming from all different directions. Humans, on the other hand, only have six muscles in their ears and most of us can't move our ears more than a little bit.

Dogs have the ability to tilt and rotate their ears in order to pick up on certain sounds, funneling it into the inner ear to dissect. It is also important to point out that dogs with perky ears (think German Shepherds, Chihuahuas, and Terriers) typically have significantly better hearing than breeds with floppy ears. 

Training Your Dog to Hear Well

Although dogs are actually born deaf, within 21 days their hearing develops and they can almost instantaneously hear better than humans. So while you may not be able to train your dog to have excellent hearing, there are a handful of things you can do to ensure their hearing remains at its best. 

Providing your pup with proper stimulation on a daily basis, making sure they get enough exercise, and feeding them a well-balanced diet are all things that will contribute to their hearing. This is especially important for older dogs, as hearing is often one of the first things to go. 

You should also check your dog's ears from time to time and make sure they aren't infected or suffering from another potentially harmful ailment. With time, dogs will begin to lose some of their ability to hear, and this is completely normal. You can help your dog by grooming them, keeping tabs on their overall health, and making sure they are leading a happy and fulfilled life. Sounds easy enough, right?

How to React When Your Dog Hears Something You Don't:

  • Pay attention.
  • Try to calm them down.
  • Observe their behavior - do they seem scared or on edge?
  • Support them the best you can.

Safety Tips for When Your Dog Hears Something You Don't:

  • Observe your surroundings and look for anything that may pose a threat.
  • Stay with your dog.