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How Far Can Dogs Hear?



Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Robertson

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Dogs have been known for their exceptional hearing abilities, which far surpass those of us humans. But just how far can they hear? It’s a common question many dog owners and enthusiasts ask.

Whether you’re curious about your own pet’s superpower or simply intrigued by the extraordinary world of dogs, this post is for you.

Key Takeaway

  • Dog hearing operates through physical and sensory adaptations, including the ability to perceive higher frequencies and from greater distances than humans, with a frequency range of up to 50,000 Hz and at least 18 muscles in their ears that aid in capturing sounds from different directions.
  • On average, dogs can hear sounds from distances ranging between 80 feet and one mile away, with their hearing capabilities being approximately 4-5 times superior to those of humans.
  • Dogs can hear sounds in the frequency range of 40 Hertz (Hz) to 60,000Hz, which is significantly broader than the human range, enabling them to detect sounds that are beyond our auditory perception.

How Does Dog Hearing Work?

How Far Can Dogs Hear

Dog hearing works through a combination of physical and sensory adaptations that allow them to perceive sounds at higher frequencies and from greater distances than humans can.

Dogs have a frequency range of up to 50,000 Hz, compared to the human range of up to 20,000 Hz. This means dogs can hear sounds, such as those produced by a dog whistle, that are beyond human auditory perception.

The inner structure of a dog’s ear is similar to a human’s, with three tiny bones that transmit sound vibrations.

However, dogs have at least 18 muscles that work to tilt, raise, and rotate their ears, helping them identify and capture sounds from different directions.

How Far Can Dogs Hear?

Dogs can hear sounds from around 80 feet up to a mile away on average, and even further under optimal conditions.

This means that dogs can hear approximately 4-5 times better than humans.

For instance, a sound that a human can hear from about 100 yards away, a dog could detect the same sound from 400 – 500 yards away, or even up to a mile in some cases.

It’s important to note that these capabilities may vary depending on the breed and individual characteristics of the dog.

The Anatomy of a Dog’s Ear

The anatomy of a dog’s ear is made up of the outer, middle, and inner ear. The outer ear includes the pinna (the part you see that is made of cartilage and covered by skin, fur, or hair).

This ear flap, which can be upright or floppy, funnels sound into the ear canal. The external ear canal, middle ear, and inner ear are all part of the canine ear structure.

The external ear is composed of auricular and annular cartilage. The ear canal has a vertical canal, a nearly 90-degree turn, and a horizontal canal prior to reaching the ear drum (tympanic membrane).

Commonly found in dogs, an ear hematoma, also referred to as an aural hematoma, is a blood-filled pocket on the inside of the ear flap. If left untreated, a hematoma will heal on its own, but that can mean weeks of discomfort.

Excess earwax in dogs can be caused by a number of factors, with allergies being the most common. Ear mites and ear infections can also lead to wax buildup.

What Frequencies Can Dogs Hear?

Dogs have an exceptional range of hearing, able to detect frequencies from 40 Hertz (Hz) to as high as 60,000 Hz, and in some cases, up to 70,000 Hz or even 100,000 Hz.

This range is significantly wider than humans, who typically hear frequencies up to about 20,000 Hz. The hearing ability of a dog can vary based on breed and age.

It’s also noteworthy that dogs can hear sounds four times farther away than humans can. However, frequencies above 25,000 Hz can become uncomfortable for dogs.

In terms of low-frequency sounds, dogs can hear down to about 67 Hz. There was past speculation that larger dogs, like St. Bernards, might hear low frequencies better.

Can Dogs Hear Through Walls?

Yes, dogs can hear through walls. Their ability to do so largely depends on the structure of the wall itself.

Denser materials, such as concrete or brick, may present more of a challenge, but it’s typically not a barrier to dogs’ superior hearing abilities.

For instance, dog whistles, which emit a high-frequency sound, can often be heard by dogs through walls.

These tools have been around for over a century and are designed to communicate with dogs at frequencies beyond human hearing.

However, it’s important to note that a dog whistle will only work if the dog can hear it and understands what the whistle means.

Even the barking of small dogs can be heard through concrete, a material known for its sound barrier properties.

How Far Away Can a Dog Hear a Whisper?

Most dogs can detect whispers up to approximately 20 feet away. This distance increases for larger breeds with bigger ears that have better hearing compared to smaller breeds.

Dogs also have an amazing ability to recognize their owners by voice alone even from great distances.

Although it’s not quite a whisper, some very sensitive breeds like German Shepherds may be able to hear their owners from up to 80 feet away!

What Do Dogs Hear When Humans Talk?

When humans talk to dogs, dogs primarily hear the tone of voice, pitch, and rhythm of the speech. While they may not understand the words being spoken, these other elements carry meaning for them.

Dogs that have lived with people for some time also pick up a whole range of sounds and associate them with specific outcomes. For example, they might recognize the sound of a treat bag opening or the jingle of car keys.

Despite dogs’ excellent hearing and similarities in the way both species process words, dogs don’t hear the subtle differences between words the same way humans do.

They are, however, very good listeners. Even though they might not comprehend what we’re saying most of the time, they do understand our tone of voice and listen to intonation cues in our words to get a general idea of what we’re trying to get across to them.

How Far Away Can an Average Dog Hear?

The average dog can hear sounds up to approximately 4 times farther away than the average human.

This heightened sensitivity enables dogs to detect various noises from a much greater distance compared to that of a human’s range of hearing.

Studies suggest that the average domestic dog has no difficulty in detecting sounds at distances of approximately 400 meters (over 1300 feet).

Which Dog Breeds Can Hear the Best?

  1. Labrador Retriever: Known for their incredible sense of hearing, Labradors are often used as service dogs due to their keen senses.
  2. German Shepherd: These dogs are often used in police and military roles because of their strong sense of hearing and smell.
  3. Poodle: Poodles are intelligent and have a sharp sense of hearing, making them excellent service dogs as well.
  4. Cocker Spaniel: These dogs have large, fluffy ears which help funnel sound into their ear canal, enhancing their hearing ability.
  5. Llasa Apso: This breed has long, heavy ears that enhance their hearing capabilities.
  6. Boston Terrier: Despite their small size, Boston Terriers have a great sense of hearing.
  7. Chihuahua: Chihuahuas have large ears in comparison to their body size, which allows them to pick up a wide range of sounds.
  8. Miniature Pinscher: Known for their alertness, these dogs have a keen sense of hearing.
  9. French Bulldog: Despite their small size, French Bulldogs have good hearing abilities.
  10. Collies and Golden Retrievers: Both these breeds are known for their sensitive hearing and are often used as service dogs.

How To Tell If Your Dog Is Hearing Something?

If a dog hears something, they might tilt their head, perk up their ears, or shift their gaze towards the source of the sound.

They may also become still and focused, or they could start to wag their tail if they recognize a familiar sound.

You can also test your dog’s hearing by standing in a location where they cannot see you and making a sharp audible sound (like a loud whistle, clap, or jingle).

If your dog turns their head, moves towards the sound, or shows any change in behavior, it indicates that they have heard the sound.


Q: Can dogs hear better than humans?

A: Yes, dogs have a more sensitive hearing ability compared to humans. They can hear a wider range of frequencies and are more adept at detecting high-pitched sounds.

Q: What is a dog whistle?

A: A dog whistle is a high-frequency whistle that emits sounds at frequencies that are difficult for humans to hear, but dogs can pick up easily. It is commonly used in dog training and communication.

Q: How many muscles are in a dog’s ear?

A: Dogs have about 18 muscles in each ear. This allows them to move their ears independently and focus on specific sounds.

Q: Can dogs hear sounds that humans cannot hear?

A: Yes, dogs have the ability to hear a broader frequency range than humans. They can pick up high-frequency sounds that are beyond the range of human hearing.

Q: How far away can a dog hear?

A: Dogs have been known to hear sounds from a mile away, especially if the sound is within their frequency range and is loud enough.

Q: Can dogs experience hearing loss?

A: Yes, dogs, like humans, can experience hearing loss. It can be caused by various factors such as age, genetics, exposure to loud noises, or certain medical conditions.

Q: Can dogs sense a whistle?

A: Yes, dogs have a keen sense of hearing and can easily detect the sound of a whistle, especially if it falls within their frequency range.

Q: How does a dog’s sense of hearing compare to its sense of smell?

A: While dogs are renowned for their exceptional sense of smell, their hearing abilities are equally impressive. Dogs rely on both their sense of smell and hearing to gather information about their environment.

Q: Can dogs hear better in higher frequencies?

A: Yes, dogs have better hearing in higher frequencies compared to humans. The higher the frequency of a sound, the better dogs are able to hear it.

In Conclusion 

As we’ve discovered in this blog post, dogs not only hear at a much greater distance than humans, but their ability to pick up on a vast range of frequencies gives them an almost superhuman-like sense.

Whether it’s a Labrador Retriever or a Chihuahua, each breed has its unique auditory strengths.

Please take the time and leave a comment below if this article helped you, or you have any additional questions.

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