You know your canine companion is an incredible animal, but did you know that they have a sense of smell 10,000 times stronger than yours, which allows them to sniff out cancer, drops in blood sugar levels, oncoming seizures, bombs, and more? Dogs are truly wondrous creatures, yet we still have a lot to learn about them. However, this domesticated sidekick has been mankind’s partner for at least 33,000 years, so we have gathered some neat facts over the course of history. Here are some of the most interesting tidbits we’ve discovered about dogs.

#1: Dogs see in more than black and white

Contrary to popular belief, your pooch doesn’t see the world in shades of gray. In fact, they can see many of the same colors as humans, but not as vividly. Of the three types of photoreceptors that people use to sense light, dogs lack the one that senses red wavelengths, and have only two photoreceptors, which sense yellow-green and blue light. This “missing” photoreceptor mutes a dog’s view of the world, which appears similar to an old-fashioned black-and-white, hand-tinted photograph.

#2: Dogs use their whiskers to help them see

When walking in the dark, dogs use their whiskers to detect subtle changes in the air currents. The changes in airflow warn dogs of upcoming obstacles, providing a better understanding of their environment, and enabling them to “see” in the dark.

#3: A wet nose is important for a dog’s sense of smell

Ideally, your pup’s nose should always be moist. The wet surface helps them absorb certain scents, and allows them to learn more from a smell. A dog also will lick their nose to “taste” the scent, and thus learn more about an unusual odor.

#4: Dogs are reproducing machines

If a canine breeding pair was never spayed or neutered, the female dog, her mate, and their puppies could produce more than 67,000 dogs in a mere six years. Given the U.S. pet overpopulation problem, this astonishing number is a strong reason why spaying and neutering is so important.

#5: Dogs have difficulty cooling off

During the dog days of summer, your pooch can sweat only through their paw pads, although panting can help dissipate some heat. In addition, the term “dog days” may not have the meaning you expect. In ancient Greece and Rome, the dog days were believed to be a time of drought, bad luck, and unrest, when dogs and men alike would be driven mad by the extreme heat. Today, the phrase is associated purely with the time of summer’s peak temperatures and humidity.

#6: Dogs have been battling by our side for centuries

In Roman times, mastiffs donned light armor and were sent after mounted knights. During WWII, the Russians trained dogs to run suicide missions. They would strap bombs to a dog’s back and have them run into enemy troops’ front lines.

While many people fear dog bites, the average dog’s bite force is only about double that of an adult person’s (i.e., around 250 pounds per square inch [PSI]). Compare that with the Kangal, a large, powerful breed used in Turkey to guard against animal predators, whose bite force is 743 PSI, and an adult male gorilla, who can bite down with a strength of 1,300 PSI.

#7: Each dog has a unique identification trait

A dog’s nose prints are as unique as a human’s fingerprints, and can be used for accurate identification.

#8: Dogs were the first animal to orbit the earth

The first animal to orbit Earth was a dog named Laika, who was a stray dog from the streets of Moscow assigned to be part of the Sputnik 2 spacecraft that launched in 1957. She died from a combination of stress and overheating, but in August 1960, two dogs named Belka and Strelka went to space aboard a Soviet spacecraft, orbited the earth for a full day, and returned alive and well. Strelka went on to have a litter of puppies, one of which was given to President John F. Kennedy, whose terrier, Charlie, fathered four puppies with Strelka’s daughter.

#9: Purebred dogs can come with a hefty price tag

In 2014, a Tibetan mastiff sold for nearly $2 million to a Chinese businessman, making him the most expensive dog ever sold. This breed has become a status symbol among China’s newly rich, partly because the dog is relatively rare, and because breeders believe they have “lion’s blood.”

#10: A Great Dane is the perfect pet in a haunted home

People once believed that Great Danes helped repel evil spirits and ghosts. In fact, that’s why Scooby Doo is a Great Dane.

Dogs are truly amazing companions, and we learn so much when they share our lives. So, keep your four-legged friend in great health—contact our Gentle Touch Animal Hospital team to schedule an appointment for their wellness check.