The Craziest Things You Never Knew About Your Dog

Basset Hound Puppy

There’s a lot more to your dog than barks and wags. | Chillin/iStock/Getty Images

No doubt your dog is a beloved member of the family. He’s always happy to see you, doesn’t mind eating the same thing every day, and takes his role as protector of the home very seriously.

You probably already noticed some common canine behaviors — like turning in circles before he lies down and following you from room to room (especially when you’re carrying a plate of food). But then there are the less obvious facts about dogs that not many people realize. Read on to find out the craziest facts about Fido that you never knew before.

1. Your dog’s sense of smell is extraordinary

You may depend on sight to understand your surroundings, but your dog uses his sense of smell.

That’s why your pup can easily sniff out that dropped piece of meat you didn’t see. While humans only have 5 million scent receptors in their noses, dogs have literally millions more. For example, Dachshunds have 125 million and Bloodhounds have a whopping 300 million.

Next: This is what you probably named your dog.

2. Most people use human names for dogs

Coton de Tulear dog

Why not give your furry family member a human name? | Bigandt_Photography/iStock/Getty Images

The top ten dog names for boys include Max, Charlie, Cooper, Jack, Duke, Oliver, Rocky, and Tucker. For girls, some top picks are Bella, Lucy, Daisy, Luna, Lola, Sadie, Maggie, Molly, and Sophie.

Next: This happens to your pup all the time when he’s sleeping.

3. Dogs dream just like people do

Cute cat and dog sleeping together

Dog brains are similar to human brains during sleep. | iStock.com/Kozorog

Ever notice your dog whining or twitching in her sleep? It turns out she’s probably dreaming.

Researchers found that dog brains are similar to human brains during sleep. The brain wave patterns cycle through the same types of electrical activity, indicating that dogs are actually dreaming just like people do. Small dogs seem to dream more frequently than large dogs, but all breeds have the mental capacity for nocturnal adventures.

Next: Is your dog envious?

4. Dogs can get jealous

a pair of coonhounds

They could be jealous of another dog or even an inanimate object. | Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

One University of California study found that dogs often exhibit indicators of jealousy if they see their owner giving attention to other dogs or even inanimate objects.

Next: Beware of this if your dog’s tail is wagging.

5. Tail wagging doesn’t always mean your dog is happy to see you

Portrait of dog Fila Brasileiro

A low wagging tail could mean insecurity. | iStock.com/Julia_Siomuha

A wagging tail is like a secret language — and it’s not always a happy greeting. According to researchers, wagging tails indicate strong emotions, which can include agitation, nervousness, or even aggression.

A tail wagging to the right means your dog is happy to see you. But if it’s wagging to the left, it means your dog feels scared or anxious. Low wagging tails indicate insecurity, and quick wagging coupled with tensed muscles could mean he feels threatened and may lash out.

Next: This is your dog’s “fingerprint.”

6. Your dog’s nose is one-of-a-kind

A pretty pomeranian female dog on a blurry grass background

It works like a fingerprint. | Tsik/iStock/Getty Images

Just like with human fingerprints, dog noses have a unique pattern of creases and ridges that don’t match up with any other dog. In Canada, dog nose prints have been used to identify lost dogs since 1938.

Next: Dogs are as smart as these specific people.

7. Dogs are as smart as 2-year-olds

Border collie puppy

Border collies are one of the smartest breeds. | JLSnader/iStock/Getty Images

Though different breeds are smarter than others, on average dogs can understand more than 150 words, are intelligent enough to deceive other dogs or people to get treats, and are able to count. That puts them on par with a two-year-old, intelligence-wise.

One of the smartest dog breeds you find? The border collie.

Next: This is one reason purebreds are so expensive.

8. Dogs only mate twice per year — or less

Corgi and puppies

Small breeds could have puppies more often than some larger breeds. | Alona Rjabceva/iStock/Getty Images

Most dogs go into heat every six months, though large breeds may only cycle every 12 to 18 months. This makes it very tricky for breeders, and is one of the reasons why certain dog breeds are so expensive.

Next: You might not know this about newborn puppies.

9. Puppies are born blind and deaf

sleeping puppies

Puppies are very dependent for the first few weeks of life. | iStock.com/HannamariaH

It takes about two weeks for puppies to respond to noise and open their eyes.

Next: Dogs know this in advance of people.

10. Your dog is highly attuned to danger

St. Bernard rescue dog in Zermatt

They can sense danger. | Emmepiphoto/iStock/Getty Images

Some call it a “sixth sense,” but in reality dogs just have such good senses that they’re better able to detect danger before people can. That’s why dogs are known to accurately predict natural disasters, home intruders, or oncoming seizures in their human companions. Some dogs may even be able to sniff out cancer.

Next: The real reason dogs pant.

11. Dogs don’t sweat

Old English sheepdog

They pant to stay cool. | radarreklama/iStock/Getty Images

The reason your pup pants when it’s hot outside is because he doesn’t possess the ability to sweat like people do. Dogs have some sweat glands in the pads of their paws, but the main way they cool down on a hot day is by panting.

Next: You might need to visit the vet if you notice this.

12. Bad breath doesn’t come standard

dog holding a toothbrush

Dental health is important. | HannamariaH/iStock/Getty Images

While you may expect your dog’s breath to stink, bad breath can be an indicator of a more dangerous health problem, like dental illness or more serious health issues. If you notice a rancid odor coming out of your dog’s mouth, then it’s time to visit the vet.

Next: This may be the grossest thing about your dog.

13. They eat poop

cute cairn terrier dog

It could be a dietary issue. | Gemredding/iStock/Getty Images

The technical term for your dog consuming feces (his own or someone else’s) is coprophagy, and yes, it’s really gross. This behavior can be attributed to a few different factors.

Your dog may like the smell or may just enjoy eating poop. Eating feces could also indicate a lack of nutrients in his diet, which could require a vet visit.

Next: Your dog says hello like this.

14. Butt sniffing is a dog’s handshake

Dogs sniffing each others' butts

This is how they say hello. | maljalen/iStock/Getty Images

While you might think it’s awkward to watch your dog eagerly sniffing another dog’s butt, what you’re witnessing isn’t actually weird at all. Scent glands located in a dog’s rear end emit odors that dogs use to identify one another. A good sniff is just your pup’s way of saying, “Hello, do I know you?”

Next: Dogs come from this one specific place.

15. They’re descendants of wolves

Siberian husky in front of a lake

Huskies might look like wolves, but all dogs can trace their lineage back to the animal. | Lisa_Nagorskaya/iStock/Getty Images

Even the smallest toy breed is a direct descent of the wolf and is technically the same species. One fossil indicates that all dogs come from a single wolf species which lived in Europe.

Read more: The Reasons Behind These Weird Dog Behaviors May Surprise You

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