A dog’s ears are key to a dog’s appearance. Ears come in every imaginable shape and size. They can be long, short, floppy, furry and move in all kinds of crazy directions.
Dogs are known to have excellent hearing, especially compared to people. Watching a dog’s ears can tell you a lot about what they like, how they feel, and how they will behave.
We use our eyes and mouth to express facial emotions. Dogs use their ears and can raise, turn, tilt, relax, stiffen or lower them — and can control them independently! Your dog gives strong clues about their feelings from the position of their ears. Muscles in human ears seem almost useless, but the muscles in your dog’s ears—about 18 of them—allow for an impressive range of movement.
Your dog may act like he is ignoring you, but if his ears are erect and forward facing, you can bet that he is listening and engaged.
If your dog’s ears are pulled-back a bit, he’s almost always feeling friendly.
But, if the ears are laid tightly back against the head, he’s probably feeling fearful or shy.
When ears are down and in addition to other body signals (such as bared teeth), it could be a sign that your dog senses danger and is preparing to go into protect mode.
There are certain breeds that may have higher than above average hearing, even for a dog. Shetland Sheepdog, for example, has been bred to do the job of herding animals, a great hearing is part of that job. The sooner a dog protecting a flock hears a predator, the more quickly he can act.
Did You Know . . .
- Dogs hear at higher frequencies than people do (thus the dog whistles), but not as high as cats. High pitches that can’t be heard by human ears are clearly heard by dogs.
- Puppies are born with their ear canals still closed and are unable to hear anything. They start to hear when they are a few weeks old.
- The longest recorded dog ears (according to the Guinness Book of World Records) belonged to Tigger, a Bloodhound from St. Joseph, Illinois His right ear measured 12.75 inches, and his left measures 13.5 inches. Bloodhounds use their very long ears to help direct scent to their sensitive noses.
- Have you noticed how your can easily ignore commotion in the room and remain alert for others? The music can be blaring and your dog will hear a car pull up into the driveway or someone knocking at the back door.