Dogs are great protectors- most in part because of their heightened senses. Dogs have a much more powerful sense of smell and hearing than humans, which is why they can be trained to help save people from earthquakes, avalanches, fires, and other disasters. Let’s learn more about their hearing abilities.
Can dogs hear louder than humans?
The answer is yes. Dogs have an incredible sense of hearing and can hear noises that humans cannot hear. This is why, when you whistle or snap your fingers, they can often come running even if they are indoors!
In fact, the average dog’s hearing range is 47,000 to 65,000 hertz. In contrast, humans can only hear from 20 to 23,000 hertz.
So, next time you want your dog to come when called, try using a different kind of noise other than just ‘let’s go’ or ‘come’. This might be something like snapping your fingers or clapping your hands, which are noises that they will be more likely to respond to.
Dogs are capable of hearing higher-pitched sounds than people can. They also have more muscles in their ears which allow them to move their ears in the direction of the sound.
This is why when someone knocks on your door or rings the doorbell, most dogs will perk up and run to the window to see who it is while you’re still trying to figure out where that sound came from.
Dogs also have a section of their brain which humans don’t have. This part of their brain processes frequencies outside what humans can hear so they can discriminate from these extra-high frequency sounds easy.
So why do dogs have better hearing than people?
There are a few factors that determine how well an animal hears:
Size of ear
Dogs’ ears are proportionately bigger compared with their head size compared with human ears. This is why they can hear a wider range of frequencies.
The thickness of the ear
The ear canal of a dog is also lined with specialized thick hairs which help to funnel sound waves through the canal and down to the eardrum more efficiently. This allows them to hear sounds from further away and with less background noise.
Distance between ears
Dogs have a large distance between their ears, which also helps amplify incoming sounds, giving them an advantage over humans whose ears are closer together.
The shape of the outer ear
The shape of your dog’s pinnae (the outside part of its ears that you see), helps collect and focus sound waves into the auditory canal, allowing for better hearing ability for your dog.
How much louder do dogs hear?
Dogs can hear sounds at four times the distance of humans. Engaging in conversation with someone 6 feet away is like talking to them from 24 feet away for your dog. This means that when you are watching TV or listening to music, your dog may be hearing it at a much louder volume than you are.
So what happens when my dog’s ears are damaged?
When a dog has damage to its eardrums, it experiences hearing loss just like humans.
However, dogs’ sense of smell is so acute that they often compensate for hearing loss by using their noses even more. Dogs who suffer hearing loss will compensate by turning their heads more or licking at the ears to check for sounds.
What are typical causes of hearing loss in dogs?
These are very tiny parasites that live inside your pet’s ear. These mites feed on their earwax and skin cells, making them sore and inflamed. Your dog will often shake its head or scratch at their ears when they have them. Your veterinarian will take a swab from the ear and test it to see what type of mites your pet has and prescribe medication accordingly.
Infected ear canal
Dogs who swim a lot or get their ears wet frequently may develop infections due to bacteria entering the outer ear holes. If you notice your dog is tilting its head or scratching at the ears more than normal, it may have an ear infection.
If untreated, these issues can become worse over time. The mites will use up all of the wax inside your dog’s ears, leaving them unprotected against outside noise, which could lead to hearing loss along with itchy, irritated skin.
These are often uncommon – especially in dogs. It can grow quickly and block off air circulation, which damages your pet’s eardrums.
Aside from the causes listed above, certain diseases can affect their inner ear.
When a dog hears ringing in the ears it can become anxious if it doesn’t know where the sound is coming from.
Cancer of the auditory canal
Cancerous tumors which grow on any part of a dog’s auditory canal can lead to hearing loss but also may cause further issues depending on where they are located.
Congenital deafness is the most common hearing loss condition in dogs. It can affect any breed, but certain breeds are predisposed to it.
Some dog breeds have been identified with congenital deafness, including Dalmatians, Alaskan huskies, German Shepherds, greyhounds, Australian shepherds, and beagles.
Symptoms of congenital deafness may include:
This is when a dog constantly oddly turns its head to listen for sounds. If they have this symptom, there is an 80% chance that they are deaf in at least one ear, according to research published by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.
Unresponsiveness when called
If your dog does not respond after you call them repeatedly, there’s a good chance they are either deaf or having difficulty understanding what you are saying.
Do dogs hear things louder?
Humans can only hear sounds up to 20 kHz, but dogs can detect sounds as high as 45 kHz – double the range of human hearing capacity.
This is why some dog whistles are advertised as being “ultrasonic” or above the typical human hearing range. When a person blows one of these whistles, it should produce waves at frequencies that are too high for humans to detect but which dogs should be able to hear, even if only weakly.
While dogs have better hearing than humans, some breeds suffer from auditory issues just like people do.
What can dogs hear that humans can’t?
Dogs may be able to hear sounds that are too high for human ears, but they also have the ability to detect sounds at much lower frequencies than humans. As a result, canines perceive certain things better than people.
Types of sound dogs can detect include:
Frequencies between 3-45 Hz
These are the waves that most dog whistles produce, so your pet should be able to hear them with high accuracy.
Sounds up to 20 kHz
While many people do not think about it, even though they may seem silent, various subsonic noises come from everyday objects, such as air conditioners or refrigerators. If your dog spends time around these types of machines, it should be able to pick up on these sounds a little more easily.
Pulses in the earth’s magnetic field
Dogs can sense and connect with electromagnetic waves in a way that is beyond our understanding. Some breeds such as German shepherds and golden retrievers are particularly good at this, but all dogs seem to be tuned into these frequencies on some level – even if they do not understand what it means for their day-to-day life. This is why it seems that dogs can “predict” earthquakes.
While many people rely on verbal communications between themselves and their pets, simply looking at how dogs perceive sound compared to humans can make it easier to understand why they may not always respond to what you are saying.
How Can I Protect My Dog’s Hearing?
When should I protect my dog’s hearing?
If your dog spends a lot of time around high-powered tools such as leaf blowers, lawnmowers, or construction sites, then protecting their hearing from loud noises should be a priority.
Some animals also get anxious during thunderstorms, fireworks, or other loud events, which can be a lot more dangerous for them than you might think. In addition to damage caused by noise, some breeds are particularly susceptible to ear infections, which can cause problems for their ears long-term.
Even if they do not appear to respond when exposed to these sounds, it does not mean that the noise doesn’t transmit into their ear canal. This constant transmission can potentially do damage over long periods.
Dog hearing protection is very similar to human-oriented protective gear. It should be possible for most people to find a product that suits the needs of their furry friend.
Tools To Protect Dog Hearing
Dog ear muffs are designed in much the same way as earmuffs made for humans. These muffs can restrict damage in much the same way because they absorb a percentage of sound in a non-lethal manner before it ever reaches the eardrums.
Many online retailers carry a variety of dog-oriented earmuff, which can be purchased in both electronic and non-electronic varieties, allowing you to decide which type is best for your pet depending on their situation.
Non-Electronic Ear Protection
These products include ear protection like earmuffs or plugs that block sound from entering the inner ear by forming a barrier like an airtight seal. These products tend to cost less than electronic options, but they do not protect against ultrasonic sounds such as those produced by high-frequency dog whistles or other noises either.
Electronic Ear Protection
These products go beyond traditional ear muffs and plugs by including a microphone and speaker inside to emit sound through the eardrum. This function muffles the transmission of outside noise.
Additionally, some of these products include a directional microphone that can effectively cancel out dangerous sound waves by transmitting the opposite wavelength back into the area.