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What Frequency Range Can Dogs Hear?
Dogs are notorious for being able to hear a much wider range of frequencies than we can. If you've ever noticed your dog's ears prick up as they detect the sound of the mailman long before you do, you'll know that dogs are capable of picking up sounds our ears are simply unable to detect.
This is due to the fact that dogs can hear sounds in the frequency range of 40 Hertz (Hz) to 60,000Hz, while the average human ear picks up sounds from 20Hz to 20,000Hz. So, what is it about dogs that makes them such great listeners and what sort of sounds can they detect? Let's take a closer look.
How to Tell When Your Dog Detects a Sound You Can't Hear
How good is your hearing? Can you pick up sounds long before everyone else in the room does, or is your hearing starting to fade as you grow older?
Whatever the case may be, your dog has a much broader range of hearing than you, and is particularly adept at picking up high-frequency sounds that won't even register on your aural radar. The telltale sign that your dog has picked up on a sound outside your hearing range is a pricking of the ears, which will then often rotate and tilt to narrow in on the source of the sound.
This is often accompanied by a switch to alertness, as your dog raises its head and may even go to investigate whatever is causing the noise. Of course, their exact response will vary depending on what the sound actually is — for example, the sound of you jiggling your house keys as you arrive home from work will elicit a different response to the sound of the neighbor's cats fighting next door.
Another cute body language signal to watch out for is that adorable head tilt, accompanied by a curious look that says, "Hmmm, what was that?" If you love taking cute photos of your pooch, you've probably spent many an hour trying to produce this exact response from your furry friend.
The Science of Dogs Hearing Frequency Ranges
If you've ever spent any time watching your dog listen to what's going on around them, you'll no doubt have noted that dogs have the ability to move their ears in different directions. This is due to the fact that dogs have a whopping 18 muscles in their ears that enable them to tilt, rotate, and wiggle their ears in whatever direction they need to capture sounds. Your own ears only have six muscles and simply don't have anywhere near the same range of movement as canine ears (we bet you're trying to move your ears like your dog does right now!).
Our canine friends also have a much longer ear canal than us, allowing them to hear sounds from up to four times farther away than humans. They also pick up sounds at different frequencies to us — while the average person can hear sounds between 20Hz and 20,000Hz, dogs can hear pitches between 40Hz and 60,000Hz. This means that while we're slightly better at picking up low-frequency sounds, dogs are much more adept than us at picking up high-pitched noises.
One example of this is the dog training whistle. Most of these whistles are designed to produce a sound between 23,000Hz and 54,000Hz, so while you could blow the whistle and not hear a sound, your dog could pick it up straight away.
It's also interesting to note that just like us, dogs lose some of their ability to hear high-frequency sounds as they get older. If your pooch is getting on a bit, they may not have the same razor-sharp hearing they did as a young pup.
Helping Your Dog Cope with Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is an unfortunate fact of life for aging dogs. It can be a sad and even frustrating sight for owners to watch their beloved pets deal with this challenge of old age, but there are several simple things you can do to help your older pooch cope with hearing loss.
First of all, it's essential to take your dog to the vet for a check-up so that you can be sure his or her hearing loss is age-related, and not caused by any underlying medical issue. Once any serious health concerns have been ruled out, you'll need to start working on a more effective way to communicate with your dog. Teaching your pet to understand and respond to hand signals will not only allow you to maintain your strong emotional bond but also will ensure the safety of your pet in a variety of situations.
From now on, you'll also need to be very careful not to startle your dog. Try to only approach or touch your pet when they can see you coming or, if waking them from a slumber, touch them very gently in the same place each time. Alternatively, you might want to try putting your hand near your dog's nose as your scent may be enough to wake them.
You'll also need to be extra careful when it comes to your furry friend's safety. Dogs suffering from hearing loss may not be able to detect dangerous situations before they result in harm, so vigilance is key to ensure that your pet stays out of trouble. Make sure your yard is securely fenced, keep your dog on a leash whenever necessary to avoid hazards, and keep a close eye on your canine companion at all times.
Finally, remember to stay patient with your dog at all times. The loss of their hearing is a life-altering adjustment, so make sure your pet gets all the help they need to cope with their changed circumstances — even if they can still pick up sounds at a much higher frequency than you!
By a Labrador Retriever lover Tim Falk
Published: 03/06/2018, edited: 04/06/2020
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