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Doggie District

8 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Dog

Cute golden doodle tilting its head and smiling at the camera.

You’ll know her by her nose.

That’s not to say that your sense of smell is as strong as a dog’s – that’s obviously not the case. But what you might not know about your dog’s nose is how unique it is. In fact, a dog’s snout “print” is as individual and unique as your fingerprints are. With unique patterns, ridges and crevices, you could “ID” a dog by its snout (providing you have a reliable canine nose print database!).

He might be smarter than other household members.

If you have a baby under age 2, your dog isn’t the lowest rung on the totem pole when it comes to smarts. Studies show that dogs have intelligence comparable to a two-year-old human toddler, with many of the same capabilities. Dogs can understand around 150 words and have been known to manipulate people and other canines to get what they want. The intelligence of dogs varies by breeds, so do your research if you’re looking for a genius of a fur ball friend.

Reproduction doesn’t happen often.

You might think your unsprayed female dog will get pregnant just as soon as she wanders out of the back gate, but that’s not true (which is no reason to allow her to wander away!). Dogs actually mate just twice a year – when the unsprayed female is “in heat.” That’s why breeders need to plan carefully when they’re trying to get a litter of pups – timing isn’t as easy as you think!

He’s got swag in the wag.

Sure, a dog’s wagging tail means he’s happy, right? Well, maybe, but not necessarily. As it turns out, tail wagging can express a variety of emotions, and the direction of the wagging tail can tell you exactly what emotions are at play. Wagging to the right means dogs are happy, but wagging to the left might mean they’re afraid. Rapid wagging, in combination with tense body language, could indicate aggression, so be careful.

Not just their eyes are closed.

You’ve seen new puppies with their closed eyes, but what you can’t see about these newbie canines is that their ear canals are also still closed. That’s because, at birth, puppies are still developing and are essentially born blind and deaf. Puppies begin hearing and seeing at about two weeks, so don’t be alarmed if your little one takes some time to respond.

They don’t sweat like you and me.

Anyone who has seen an overheated dog knows they react to heat a little differently than we humans. That’s because, aside from sweat glands located in their paws, dogs pant to cool down. Without sweat glands throughout their body, as humans have, it takes them a little more time to cool down.

Their feet smell.

…but not like a human. Those sweat glands in the paws actually cause a strange odor, which (wait for it) smells like popcorn or corn chips. That’s why the “condition” has been called “frito feet.”  It’s actually due to sweat and bacteria (appetizing!).

Their breath shouldn’t be that bad.

Sure, dog breath rarely smells like roses, but if your dog has rancid breath (on a regular basis), he actually could be suffering from a dental disease or other health condition. It’s a good idea to have persistent halitosis checked out by a vet.

Your turn: What’s one surprising thing you’ve learned about your favorite pet?