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Why Are Dog Ears So Soft?

If you’ve been around dogs for any length of time, you’ll have noticed that their ears are just really soft.

Especially when compared with our ears which are much more rigid.

So what makes a dog’s ear so fuzzy?

The Fur On A Dogs Ear Is Softer

Dogs have three types of fur: whiskers, guard hair, and the undercoat.

Depending on the breed of dog you have, it might have more primary coat than secondary or the other way around.

This determines the length of the coat and the texture of the fur.

Whiskers grow out of follicles on the snout or eyebrows of a dog.

These hairs are very thick and used as sensors to help the dog understand their surroundings.

Dogs will instinctively pull away if someone, or something, touches their whiskers.

The guard coat are the longer, coarser hairs that cover a dog’s body.

These hairs help to add some insulation and protection against the elements.

They also protect the dog’s skin from being damaged by environmental hazards like sharp twigs or rocks.

The undercoat is the type of hair that you can find on your dog’s ear.

These hairs grow in clusters out of single follicles and can help the dog to stay warm and dry.

These hairs are very soft and have a downy feel.

Because a dog’s ear is covered mostly with undercoat fur, the ears are usually extremely soft.

So go ahead and give your dock a scratch behind the ear!

They’ll love it!

Another reason why a dog’s ear is very soft comes down to how it is formed.

All Muscle

Dogs have 12 muscles that work together to let them control their ears.

If you’ve ever seen your dog’s ears perk up, now you know how many muscles it takes to get their ears going!

Dogs have the ability to control their ears with great detail.

They do this to help them hone in on whatever they want to focus their attention on.

This is why a startled dog will quickly point their ears in the direction they are looking.

Dogs, cats, and a few other mammals have the ability to point their ears like this to focus their hearing.

When an animal points their ears, they are focusing their hearing just like we can focus our vision by moving our eyes.

Research has shown that 10 to 20 percent of humans can still wiggle their ears.

This is likely a vestigial feature from our genetic past.

Because dogs have to move their ears so much to focus on sound, their ears need to be very soft.

Our ears don’t need to move and are much harder because they are still.

Dogs ears are also effected by breeding.

Dog Ears Are Made To Move

Dogs come in all different shapes and sizes, but at their core they are all wolves.

Wolves are the oldest and most historic type of dog.

Slowly, over thousands of years, humans domesticated dogs.

This means we selectively bred dogs for favorable traits including being able to get along with people!

Dogs are, so far, the only large carnivore to ever be domesticated in human history!

Dogs were domesticated before humans even started practicing agriculture.

Long before we figured out herding sheep or planting corn, we developed our relationships with dogs.

Over the centuries, different dog “breeds” emerged.

These dogs were bred to help with hunting, defense, and other human needs.

Some of these dogs have larger, softer ears than others.

Dogs with big, floppy ears were likely domesticated and bred for their obedience and general easy-going attitude when around people.

While dogs with sharper ears were bred for tougher jobs.

What are the advantages of having this big, soft ears?

How Do These Soft Ears Help Dogs Hear?

Can dogs hear better than humans? Well, it depends on who you ask!

While dogs can hear sounds that have a higher frequency than humans, we are able to hear up to 12 octaves while dogs can only hear up to three octaves.

This means dogs can hear more different kinds of sounds, but humans can hear finer details in a smaller range.

And dog’s can hear sounds from far away.

Dog’s big soft ears help them to focus on the direction of a sound they want to hear.

They also help to keep their ears warmer when they are outside for long periods of time.

Dogs ears aren’t just soft, they are designed for detailed hearing!

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National Canine Research Association of America