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How Far Can Dogs Hear? Average and Max Distances

Cheryl Regan

By Cheryl Regan

11German Shepherd

It’s no secret that dogs have a fantastic sense of hearing. Most dog owners will probably notice that their dog’s ears perk up or twitch long before they hear something themselves. Although some breeds have even better hearing than others, all dogs can hear sounds from between an average of 80 feet, and a maximum of around one mile away.

Keep reading to learn more about your four-legged friends’ superior hearing senses, and to understand why canine ears are so sensitive to sound.

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How Good is a Dog’s Hearing?

Before we can fully understand how good a dog’s hearing is, we need to take a quick look at what sound is, and how it is perceived by humans and animals. Crucially, sound is made up of two parts: frequency and amplitude (or intensity).

a smiling pembroke welsh Corgi dog lying on grass
Image Credit: ozsvathcsilla, Pixabay


Put simply, sound is made up of vibrations that travel through mediums, such as air, water, or a string as acoustic waves. The more frequent the waves, the higher the pitch—or frequency. Frequency is measured in Hz (Hertz) per second.

Most people’s hearing can detect sounds that are between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz, while dogs can hear sounds up to 65,000 Hz. This explains how dogs can hear those “silent” training whistles, while we can’t. Dogs can hear sound at frequencies that are around 3 times higher than those that people can hear.

Sound Intensity

In addition to hearing dramatically higher-pitched sounds than humans can, dogs can detect softer—or quieter—sounds than us. Sound intensity is measured in decibels, with 0 dB being the quietest sound audible to humans. Anything below this would be inaudible to human ears.

For sounds that are between 3,000 Hz and 12,000 Hz, dogs can hear sounds as quiet as -5 dB to -15 dB on average. For louder noises, a dog’s ears are much, much more sensitive.

How Sound Changes Over Distance

As sound travels away from its source, it decreases in intensity. To be precise, sound intensity decreases by around 6 dB each time it doubles in distance from its source. Since dogs can hear quieter sounds than humans, they can hear from further away.

If you’re wondering how dogs can hear so well, it all has to do with the anatomy of their ears. Let’s take a closer look!

young female black dog wearing a collar with bell
Image Credit: Collette Worley, Shutterstock

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What is Special About Dogs Ears?

Dogs have large outer ears called pinnae. The pinna functions as a funnel, amplifying sound as it travels into the inner ear. The size and shape of the pinnae differ depending on breed. For example, dogs with large upright and erect ears, such as German Shepherds, will have superior hearing compared to one that has floppy ears, for example, Cocker Spaniels.

In addition to their pinnae, dogs have more than 18 muscles in their outer ear, which they use to direct and angle their ears to hear sounds that are coming from multiple directions or bouncing off surfaces.

dog with one ear folding
Image By: chelovekpoddojdem, Pixabay

Why Do Dogs Have Good Hearing?

It’s all to do with survival and evolution. As predatory pack animals, a dog’s hearing alerts them to prey and danger alike. Whether it was the slight and quiet rustling of a creature moving through the underbrush, or loud and distant calls from their pack, wild dogs relied heavily on their hearing.

Although our domesticated furry friends might not need to hunt or listen out for danger, this trait is still very much a part of who and what they are, and how they relate to the world around them.

Hearing Ability Comparison – Dogs vs. Humans and Other Animals

As incredible as their hearing ability is, there are creatures out there with even better hearing than dogs—and, as with dogs, it’s all to do with survival. The creature with the best hearing ability on Earth is the Greater Wax Moth, which may have developed this to escape its main predators—bats.

Greater Wax Moth: 300,000 Hz
Human: 20,000 Hz
Dog: 45,000 Hz
Cat: 64,000 Hz
Mouse: 91,000 Hz
Ferret: 44,000 Hz
Beluga Whale: 123,000 Hz
Elephant: 12,000 Hz


Final Thoughts

Dogs’ ears are intricately built to hear sounds at high frequencies and low decibels. This helps them detect prey and also alerts them to danger. Our furry friends can hear sounds that are four times further away than the furthest sounds we can hear. So, next time you see their ears twitch or perk, know that there’s probably something going on that you can’t hear—yet!

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Featured Image Credit: Capri23auto, Pixabay

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