Top 10 Dog Scientific Discoveries and Facts

By Kyoko •  Updated: 07/06/20 •  10 min read
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Do you ever wonder what makes your fur baby use those sad eyes to get what he wants? Or why he behaves the way he does, like when he seems to know you’re down or sad? You’re not alone! Scientists continue to study dogs to learn why they do the things they do. Plus, researchers are also finding ways that dogs can help humans in some very unique ways!

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We’ve done the research to find some of the most interesting scientific discoveries about our canine companions. You may be surprised by some of the information we found—we were certainly amazed! Let’s get started!

Can My Dog Be Lactose Intolerant?
Can My Dog Be Lactose Intolerant?

Science in the News About Dogs

Here are some highly interesting science stories about dogs in the news!

1). Dogs Can Read Emotions in Dogs and Humans

Who would have thought? But it does make sense. Many pet parents have been amazed when their dog seemed to know they were sad, down or upset in some way. Dogs seem to have an innate ability to know when we need comfort. Well, now science has proved that dog can read our emotions.

In this study, scientists showed dogs pictures of human or dog faces, all of which were showing different emotions. The faces were also paired with a single vocalization that was either positive or negative. The dogs in the study tended to look longer at faces that were in line with the vocalization. In other words, when the sound matched the emotion on a person’s or dog’s face, the dogs spent a longer time looking at those faces.

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Now you know for sure that your fur baby can really and truly read your emotions. He really knows when you need a helping paw, puppy hugs and licks!

2). Augie Breaks Record as World’s Oldest Golden Retriever at Age 20

A precious fur baby in Tennessee, a golden retriever, has been recognized as the oldest of her breed. She turned 20 years old in April!

Augie was adopted at the age of 14 from a golden retriever rescue. The precious pup had been rehomed twice before finding her fur ever home. For her age, Augie is pretty healthy.  She seems to have a little trouble getting up, but otherwise still enjoys her walks around the yard.

This is pretty amazing, as most dogs live between the ages of 8-15 years. However, smaller dogs sometimes live as long as 20 years. It’s not as common for larger dogs to live that long, though there have been some golden retrievers who have been known to live for up to 17-19 years.

Augie’s pet parents had a wonderful party for her. They had planned a large party for their fur baby, but had to cancel due to the coronavirus. Still, Augie had a party with them, which included decorations, a carrot cake (yum!) and some of her other favorite foods! We sure wish Augie all the best!

3). Dogs are Being Trained to Sniff Out Covid-19 in Humans

We all know that dogs have highly sensitive noses, and some have been trained to sniff out cancer and other medical issues in humans. But right now, scientists are working to train dogs to sniff out Covid-19 infections in humans!

The study is currently underway at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. They’re working with the dogs to see if the pups can learn to sniff out the virus soon after a human has been infected.

If dogs could truly learn to detect the coronavirus in us, it would be a great help. This is especially true for people who are asymptomatic. The reason is that these people are not showing symptoms of the infection and aren’t even aware they’re infected. Because of this, they can easily spread the virus everywhere they go. Finding these people before they can cause widespread infection could be a great way to help keep the contagion from spreading so quickly.

Dog Research Projects

Here are a couple of dog science projects that are interesting!

4). Dog Aging Project

Scientists are interested in learning how and why dogs age, and live long lives like Augie. The Dog Aging project is being supported by the National Institute on Aging and is looking for dogs and their pet parents to help out with the research!

The project will follow thousands of dogs who are pets for ten years. Researchers will work to identify the “biological and environmental factors” that help to lengthen the lives of our fur babies.

The project is accepting all dogs, no matter their age, mixed breed or purebreds, and dogs that are healthy or those that have chronic illnesses. You can check out the site for more information if you and your fur baby would like to participate in this very interesting research project!

5). Research on dogs and Grain-Free Diets

In a recent study, researchers (which included vets, animal nutritionists, and others) reviewed past studies to see if they could find a link between det and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. The researchers reviewed over 150 peer-reviewed studies in the Journal of Animal Science. They were not able to find inconclusive evidence in these studies that found a relationship between a grain-free diet and DCM.

DCM is a puzzling condition that causes muscle in the heart to become weak, which makes it difficult for the heart to work correctly and pump blood as it should. It appears that this condition has a genetic aspect, which can be found in some dog breeds including Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, and Boxers. Vets also suspected that diet could be a cause, as this was a commonality among dogs affected by this condition. The common foods that they believed could be partially responsible for the heart problem included peas, lentils, legume seeds and potatoes.

According to this project, however, the evidence doesn’t seem to point to a grain-free diet as the problem. This study did recognize that a lack of certain nutrients could be involved in this health condition. The lack of taurine, carnitine, thiamine, copper, potassium, vitamin E and selenium have been shown to be associated with the development of DCM. More studies are needed before the true cause is found.

Research About Dogs and Puppies

Now, let’s take a look at research projects dealing with dogs and puppies!

6). Study Shows Dogs are Able to Listen Well in Noisy Environments, but Babies Can’t        

In an ongoing study, scientists are using dogs to help them understand why babies can’t seem to understand language in a noisy environment. The study is being done at the Canine Language Perception Lab at the University of Maryland.

According to scientists, dogs can understand language in a noisy environment, but human babies don’t have this ability. Scientists used dogs to help understand why this is the case.

Dogs are known to have better hearing and attention skills than babies. The scientists said that dogs are very similar to babies in some ways, including how they act during listening and noise tasks. The issue with babies is that they seem to no longer recognize language when it’s being spoken in a noisy room. However, if they are in a quiet place, they are able to focus on the words. On the other hand, when dogs heard their names in a noisy environment, they were able to focus on their name.

So far, scientists believe the difference between the babies and dogs in the noisy environment has to do with attention skills. Dogs have this capability, as do human adults. But human babies must develop this skill at a later age. The study is ongoing, so it will be interesting to see what they learn from all this!

One thing is for sure, though. We know our fur babies can hear even the lowest whisper of words like “cookies.” They’ll come running from the other end of the house when they hear that word!

7). Dogs Become More Difficult When They Reach Adolescence

If you’re an experienced pet parent to a dog, then you probably already know that as puppies reach adolescence, they do tend to become more difficult. In fact, they act in similar ways to human teenagers! Now scientists have proven that this really does happen!

The study was conducted a Newcastle University, and the lead author was Lucy Asher. The study found that, just like human teenagers, puppy adolescence is a time of raging hormones, which leads to disobeying and ignoring their pet parents.

The study looked at 70 dogs that were German shepherds, golden retrievers, and Labrador retrieves. These dogs were all being raised as possible guide dogs. Researchers also included the dogs’ caregivers in the study and asked them to score puppies on their attachment and attention-seeking behaviors.

Dogs that had high scores on either behavior tended to enter puberty earlier. So, the study shows that puppies go through a similar experience to human teenagers as they enter and go through puberty.

In this section, we’ll take a look at some popular facts that researchers have learned about dogs!

8). Dogs Can Tell Time

Scientists have found that dogs have a sense of time. In fact, it’s been proven that they can even predict future events. Have you ever noticed your fur baby is waiting at the door when you get home from work? That’s because he knows about the time of day you’re usually expected home! Science has proven this! Or perhaps you’ve noticed your canine companion heads to the kitchen when it’s almost supper time. He does this even before you start cooking!

Our dogs become familiar with the daily routine and as a result gain a sense of time. Have you ever noticed that on the weekend, when your schedule is a bit different, your fur baby still seems to know when something is supposed to happen, like dinner or a walk?

We don’t want to scare you, but it could be that he’s wearing a watch hidden under his fur!

9). Dogs are as Smart as 2-Year Old Kids

Scientists have run canine IQ tests and found that dogs are about as smart as a 2-year old human child! This was based on a language development test, where they found that dogs with average intelligence can learn about 165 words, which is about the same as a 2-year old child. Dogs were also able to learn gestures and signals.

Studies showed that collies, poodles, German shepherds were the smartest dogs around! One of the reasons for their higher level of intelligence is that these dogs were originally bred as working dogs. But who knew they were as smart as our 2-year old kids? That’s a little scary…think of what your 2-year old child can think up!

10). Dogs Get Jealous

Many pet parents of dogs already know this is true, but scientists have proven that dogs do get jealous. Have you ever noticed that your fur baby wants more attention when you’re petting another dog or cat?

Scientists at the University of California San Diego did research that showed dogs do get jealous. The scientists in the study even found that dogs became jealous when their human was paying attention to a fake dog!

Science has found out so many great things about our canine companions. As pet parents, many of us have already suspected many of these findings. Even so, science continues to show that dogs are wonderful and amazing, and we’re fortunate to have them in our lives!

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Kyoko

Kyoko is from a family of 3 and moved to New York with her parents and siblings when she was 13. Kyoko is fond of spending a great amount of time with pets, specifically her beagle Luna and cat Missy. Her boyfriend often complains that she spends too much time giving attention to their animals. Kyoko has written dozens of articles concerning pets and is aiming at owning a pet shop one day!

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