Nov 16 2015

It Is A Dog’s World – How your dog’s ears let them hear the world


Did you hear that? No, neither did I, but our Brutus, Fraser Valley Animal Hospital’s resident canine, did and so did your dog. Hearing is a dog’s second best sense, secondary only to smell. A dog’s ability to hear is much better than a human’s ability, especially in the higher frequencies. A human’s typical hearing range is between 20 and 20,000 Hz whereas a dog’s hearing range is typically from 40 to 60,000 Hz. Try out this simple hearing test and see what your hearing range is.

Did you know that when the Beatles recorded their Sgt. Pepper album in 1967, they added sounds at a frequency that only a dog can hear. They also added a dog whistle to “A Day In The Life”. So put on an old Beatles song and watch your dog as her or she joins in.


Dogs have 18 muscles that control their ears and allows them to move their ears towards a sound, swiveling them like radar dishes, in order to maximize reception. The ear’s shape also allows the sound to be heard more accurately. Many breeds often have upright and curved ears, which direct and amplify any sounds, thus helping dogs to hear sounds up to 4 times further away than sounds we humans will hear. So when there is a couple walking towards you, your dog can pick up their conversation when they are 80 feet away, whereas we have to wait till they are 20 feet away to start eaves dropping. Perhaps the fact that Winston’s ears do not stand up right that explains why he never listens to me!


The BAER test is the only standard test available to be able to asses a dog’s ability to hear and your local veterinarian can inform you where this test can be done in your area.. This test uses a computer to record the electrical activity of the brain in response to a sound. Most owners though have a pretty good idea how well their dogs can hear.


A dog’s ability to hear varies based on breed and age, and just like us, as a dog ages his ability to hear decreases. Now at the University of Cincinnati Fetch-Lab, Dr. Scheifele is the only one in the world who is fitting our canine friends with hearing aids.


Have you ever stopped to think about the fact that dogs use their ears for more than just hearing? They also use their ears, along with facial expressions, barking, growling and whining to express how they are feeling, whereas our human ears do not play any role in our body language. When your dog is comfortable and relaxed he will hold his ears in their natural position. A dog will raise his ears higher on his head when he is alert and if you watch you will notice he will also direct his ears to whatever peeked his interest. But be aware raised ears can also be a sign a dog is feeling aggressive. A dog who is feeling friendly will pull her ears back slightly, but if her ears are completely flattened to the side of her head then she is submissive and feeling frightened.

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