Dogs have a very acute sense of hearing. While their sense of smell ranks first, their hearing is not too far behind. Canines hear much better than humans do; over four times greater to be precise. You may see a dog cocking his head and while that could mean many things, often the reason is to hone in on a sound that is far in the distance.
Why Can Dogs Hear Better Than Humans?
There are many reasons for this. One reason might be that while a human has ears that are placed flatly on the sides of the head, dogs have ears on the top of their heads which are much larger and often erect. Dogs that have erect ears with little hair can hear better than dogs with floppy or excessively hairy ears.
Another reason is that the frequencies that dogs hear are much higher and lower than what humans can hear. Dogs hear a frequency range of 40 to 60,000 Hz while a human range is between 20 and 20,000 Hz. Because of this, dogs have a difficult time with very loud noises. Sounds that may be acceptable to you can be uncomfortable to a dog.
Yet another feature that makes a dogs hearing superior to humans is their ear muscles. A man may be able to wiggle his ears a little bit but a dog has over 18 muscles in his ears which allow him to rotate them, tilt them, and raise or lower them. His ears are like antennae or radar for honing in on sounds. This movement along with his sensitive range allows him to focus in and locate exactly where a sound is coming from.
Humans are able to detect sound direction to a certain extent but out in the open we basically hear a sound with both ears and can tell the general direction of the noise. Dogs can hear sound with each ear independently. This means that he can listen to you with one ear and hear a sound coming from the bushes with the other ear. Dogs are flooded with smells and sound all of the time. This is what makes them such great search and rescue creatures. Because of their uncanny hearing, they are blessed with the ability to filter sounds. They can selectively pay attention to sounds or drown them out when they need to. Have you noticed that your dog can sleep through blaring music on the radio but jumps up when he hears the treat bag open up?
While there is no doubt that canines have excellent hearing, some breeds are prone to deafness and hearing disorders. Breeds with white fur have markedly more ear infections and congenital deafness. Some breeds to screen include: Jack Russell Terriers, Dalmatians, Bull Terriers, and Australian Cattle Dogs. All puppies are deaf until 2 weeks of age but after that, you should clearly be able to tell whether he can hear you or not. Vets often perform a BAER test to measure hearing loss. Be careful to pay close attention to your dog’s ears, especially if they droop a lot. This is a great place for bacteria growth because it is dark and moist. With a little ear cleaning solution and care, your dog’s ear health is easy to control.