Can Dogs Hear a Fetal Heartbeat?

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Introduction

So, you’ve just found out you are expecting. Congratulations! It’s a big milestone! There are plenty of things to prepare, like the baby’s room, stocking up on diapers, and working on your birth announcements. However, there’s something you may not have thought of - how your dog might react, and do they even know that you are pregnant? 

Many sources say yes! Your dog can most likely tell in a variety of ways that something is different about you. However, a burning question for many people is can a dog hear a fetal heartbeat? It’s tough to say one way or another, but we do know a few things about how dogs react to new sounds.

Signs Your Dog Might Sense You're Expecting

Though there isn’t a definitive list of ways your dog will react to a fetal heartbeat, there are ways your dog could react if they hear something new. You might notice them being very alert and listening very closely. It can almost look like your dog is taking a minute to stop and think about what is going on around them. 

You also might notice them putting their ears up. Dogs’ ears are very sensitive, and they are built to “catch” soundwaves. So, putting their ears up helps them hear the new sound better. If the sound upsets them, they might even start barking or whining, though, hopefully, they won’t be upset if they hear a new little heartbeat. Hopefully, they’ll be as elated as you!

If you’re expecting, theoretically, your dog might be able to sense things are different in other ways as well. For example, they might be able to smell that something is different with you. So, you might notice them sniffing around. 

You also might notice them watching you more intently. Dogs are very good at studying your behaviors and routines, so if something changes, they notice. Some sources like Baby Gaga even point out that “dogs aren’t blind” so your dog might even see that you’re growing bigger and changing shape as your baby develops in the womb.

Body Language

Here are some signs you might notice if your dog hears a new sound:
  • Alert
  • Barking
  • Whining
  • Listening
  • Ears up

Other Signs

Here are some other signs you might notice if your dog thinks you're expecting:
  • Sniffing your personal zones
  • Watching you more intently
  • Laying on your belly

History of Dogs and Human Pregnancy

Historically, humans have been reproducing since, well, as long as we’ve existed. We have needed to reproduce to continue to populate the earth. In fact, in 2015, the BBC wrote an article about human remains found in Ethiopia that were thought to be around 2.8 million years old. This means humans may have been around over 400,000 years longer than previously thought. 

Though there is some debate between humans existing between 2.8 million years and 2.35 million years, it’s still safe to say humans have been around and reproducing for a long time - or we would’ve died out a long time ago. 

Though there is some debate about how long dogs have been domesticated, according to Time, dogs were probably domesticated around 15,000 years ago. So, man’s best friend has been with humans for a while too. While there is not a lot of information out there around when humans started noticing that their pups could sense pregnancy or hear a fetal heartbeat, it’s pretty safe to say, thanks to dogs’ keen senses, they probably have been able to sense unborn babies for a while. 

If, in fact, dogs have been sensing human babies in the womb for a while, this could be very significant in earlier times because pups could have even become more protective of their human if there was a baby involved - but it’s just an idea.

Science Behind Dogs Sensing Human Pregnancy

Scientifically, it’s pretty safe to say that a dog can sense a human pregnancy in at least a few ways. As mentioned, one of the most interesting things about your pooch is their crazy ability to sense changes. As humans, we try to be observant, but human observations don’t even seem to come close to how well your pup can sense change.

There is plenty of research on how dogs watch human’s daily routines, and when we deviate from them, even a little, they take notice. So, if you start exercising differently, changing your diet, or your sleeping habits change, your pooch might know something us up.

Another way your pup can tell if you’re pregnant is with their nose. That’s right, the old schnoz knows. Dogs have a very, very, sensitive sense of smell. So, scientists think that pups might be able to smell chemical changes in a woman’s body. 

So, while hormones are going crazy, your pup might know what’s going on better than you think they might. As for a dog’s sense of hearing, dogs can hear so much more than humans. So, while there isn’t enough research on the topic of a pup being able to hear a human fetus’s heartbeat, it’s not too far-fetched to say that they can, and many sources speculate that your dog can hear it.

Training Your Dog to Sense Pregnancy

So, the big question is, can you train a dog to sense pregnancy? It’s hard to say. Dogs can be trained to do a variety of things such as sniff out drugs or even cancer, but they seem to sense it on their own. The training that comes in has more to do with dogs communicating information to humans. So, can you train them to communicate that someone is pregnant? Possibly, but you and your pup might have such a strong bond that you might notice that they know already.

Arguably, the most important thing might be getting your pup ready for a new baby. The AKC points out that dogs learn quickly, but they can also get jealous. So, it’s important to get them ready when changes are coming. The AKC offers a long list of suggestions to help acclimate your best friend and your new addition. 

A few of these things include playing baby noises around the house, giving your dog a little less attention in the weeks leading up to your delivery, changing your dog’s routine before the baby comes home, and even gating the baby’s room off from your pup for both of their safety.

The AKC also mentions making sure that your dog has safe spaces to go hang out where they won’t be disturbed by your new addition and when your baby becomes mobile, making sure the baby doesn’t pull on your dog’s ears or tail. Baby needs to learn to be gentle too!

So, can a dog hear a fetal heartbeat? Possibly - the evidence is too sparse to say one way or the other. However, judging by how well a dog hears, it is not unlikely at all.

Safety Tips for Having a Dog Around a New Baby:

  • Play baby noises around the house.
  • Give your dog a little less attention in the weeks leading up to your delivery.
  • Change your dog's routine before your baby comes home.
  • Gate off the baby's room.
  • Give your dog a safe space.
  • Once the baby becomes mobile, make sure they don't hurt your pup.