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How do dogs hear?

Updated on June 23, 2009

Dogs are born blind and deaf but you would be surprised at the capability of these dogs to have an ultrasensitive sense of hearing. Much is being said about a dog’s excellent scenting ability. Smell is considered to be the most important sense of a dog. The scenting ability is a most important asset when a hound is hunting, when a sniffing dog is trying to find bombs and narcotics. The sense of smell is also an indispensable asset of a rescue dog. However, the dog has another important asset…a keen sense of hearing. Dogs can hear much much better than humans can in spite of the fact that humans and canines have an almost the same ear anatomical characteristics. Of course a dog’s ear can capture and collect sounds not unlike radars. Human ears are plastered close to the head while dog ears aside from being bigger are pricked and set on high on the head. Dogs also have this ability to move the ears independently. Compared to human ears, a dog’s ear has 18 more muscles that allow easy rotating, raising and tilting. The floppy ears of a dog may muffle the sound but it is still believed that they can hear much better than humans can.

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The sound is captured by the outer ear or pinna. The vibrations that reach the eardrum pass through the auditory ossicles to reach the tympanic cavity. Vibrations that pass through the cochlea, a snail shaped structure in the inner ear will be converted into nerve impulses. The nerve impulses will pass through the auditory nerve to be processed in the brain. Humans are noted to have a 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz hearing frequency while a dog’s hearing frequency is from 40 Hz to 60,000 Hz. No wonder these creatures can hear sounds that we humans are unable to hear. This hearing frequency would mean that the dog’s ears are flooded with sounds. This situation would be unbearable for humans. However, dog have the ability to screen sounds. A dog will sleep through the noise created by the blaring stereo or the honking of cars. But try crackling a kibble wrapper or try banging the can opener with the canned dog food and see if dog would not suddenly spring at attention. The ears of the dog have the ability to hear sounds independently. Police officers have used the position of the dog’s ears to clue them on the location of a suspect.

So when you see hear your dog howling or barking at shadows, it means that the dog can hear sounds at a distance and not because of a paranormal situation.

Testing the dog's hearing

How to Detect Hearing Loss in a Dog


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