The Real Reason Why Dogs Stick Their Heads Out of Car Windows

Wondering why a dog loves speeding down the highway when it balks at a little playful ear-blowing? The science behind why dogs expose their heads to the wind may surprise you.

Ever Wonder Why Dogs Stick Their Heads Out of Car Windows?

Of course, nobody has been able to interview canines on the subject, but the consensus is that dogs like to put their heads out of car windows because they are visually curious. Many dogs are not tall enough to have an unobstructed view of the outside world from the front seat, and most dogs are too short to have any forward or rearward view from the back seat. Poking their head out of the window is a good way to check out their surroundings and enjoy a nice, cool breeze sat the same time.

But blowing in a dog’s ear, even gently, can hurt it, not because of the softness of the skin or the sensitivity of the nerves, but because of the sound of the blowing. Veterinarian Ben Klein told us that one of the ways a dog is tested for deafness is by the vet blowing into the ear through a funnel; if the dog doesn’t get upset, it’s an indication of deafness. So while we may associate blowing into the ear of a dog as playfulness or to a human mate as a sexual overture, to the dog it is the canine equivalent of scratching a blackboard with fingernails. The frequency of the sound drives them nuts. Although different dog breeds have varying sensitivities to ear-blowing, all are bothered by it. Avoid making the mistake of annoying particularly aggressive dogs, they could retaliate unexpectedly.

Dr. William E. Monroe, of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, adds that the external ears of dogs are full of sensory nerves that help to prevent trauma injuries and preserve hearing: By preventing debris (sand, wood chips, etc.) from entering the ear canal, damage to the ear and hearing is prevented. Thus, avoiding air in the ear could have survival advantage. The ear can’t trap all the debris a dog must contend with. In fact, Dr. Klein mentioned that sticking their heads out of car windows is one of the major causes of ear infections in dogs.

Next thing we know, we’ll have to install seat belts for dogs.

Check out 53 Secrets Pets Won’t Tell You.

Reader's Digest Canada
Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada