Dog Sense (I): Ears - An Account Into Dog's Auditory Senses

Wag Wiki, last updated 29th, Oct 2014, Srishti Das

ears for hearing

Listening to people talk, the news, music, traffic everything helps us comprehend the situations around us. Same is the case with our pet dogs, except they are way ahead of us at it. While we may have a better sense of comprehension because of our superior brain, animals like dogs live on their senses to comprehend and understand the world. Thus, they have highly developed senses such as the ear and their body structures support this fact.


Hearing Range


When puppies are born, they are completely deaf for about 3 weeks. By the time their hearing develops, they hear almost 4 times the distance of what the human ear can hear. Dogs can hear many kinds of sound like high-pitched sounds, which the human ear cannot even sense. Humans hear somewhere between 64- 23,000Hz while dogs hear 40-45,000Hz. However, like humans, dogs also lose their hearing range as they grow older, still generally maintaining a better sense of sound. Dogs also hear high-pitched sounds that we don’t even know of. One of the common examples will include dogs being uncomfortable when you use the vacuum cleaner, the high pitched noise makes them restless and thus they start barking


Ear Positioning


Human ears and placed laterally on the sides of our face and cannot move independently. However, in dogs they are placed on the upper sides of their heads. Some have perked ears and the others have their ears hanging. Dogs with perked ears usually hear much better and farther than the ones with hanging ears. This is because dogs with perked ears have the ability to hear over a wider range of frequencies. Compared to the six muscles in humans, dogs have about 18 muscles in their ears allowing them to move their ear towards the incoming sound. What is interesting is that for us, ears are all about hearing but for dogs, they also satisfy the purpose as organs of balance. 


Hearing Mechanism


Our cerebrum senses and decodes sounds captured by the ear to the auditory nerve and transforms them into exclusive sounds. We can figure out specific sounds in the environment like what the sound is and where it is coming from. Nevertheless, this will not be possible to do so if we lose our sense of hearing in even one of our ears, let alone both. Dogs on the other hand can listen from each ear individually. For dogs, decoding senses is the major function performed by the brain while our brain is designed to devote more space to vision than to sound. We detect more or less the same amount of low pitched sounds as dogs, but not nearly as many high-pitched sounds. In addition, we cannot hear a great distance unlike dogs. 


Dogs as Hearing Aid for humans


Dogs have been known to help humans with their superior hearing since forever. We’ve associated dogs as watchdogs for a very long time, knowing that when we sleep at night, dogs save us from burglars ever since we were small school going kids. However, that’s not all, dogs help in finding things because their sensitive hearing can find the location of every small sound. Dogs are also used as rescue animals to find people during earthquakes, hurricanes, fire etc because they can hear the smallest movements.


Hearing Dogs:

Hearing dogs for deaf people is a national charity and centre of excellence in training dogs to alert deaf people to important sounds and danger signals in the home, workplace and public buildings. There are many reports of pets not letting their dogs out of their house during earthquakes and the tsunami keeping their owners safe. This is what ‘Hearing Dogs’ looks to promote to help the handicapped stay safer.


Dogs, be it street, pets or working always have the ability to capture emotions and energies much better that humans. They manage to deduct and understand based on their senses and are thus very primal creatures. Understanding their hearing helps us understand them better. If you ask us, it’s a necessity because apart from being loyal, a dogs judgment based on its senses are usually right. No wonder they are ‘Man’s best friend’. 

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