The amazing abilities of dogs: Take the quiz

chocolate Labrador wearing goggles and a cape
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Dogs have incredible senses and are like superheroes on four legs. Take this quiz to test your canine know-how.

Question 1 of 12

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How far has a dog been known to track its owner's smell?

A dog's internal GPS has always fascinated researchers, but it really hit the point of amazement in 2015, when a foster dog that had been living in a home for less than a week traveled about 11 miles to make his way back to his former foster. The dog had gone to the house by car, so he had to navigate the road back without ever having traveled it on foot.

"An eleven-mile distance is actually not terribly long for a dog," Bonnie Beaver, a professor at Texas A&M University, told Time. "If the dog had walked both from and back to his home he'd be following his own scent trail." Here, she says, the dog was likely following the smell of his former foster mom, navigation possible over a distance this far as long as the winds are blowing the right way.

(As a footnote, after that kind of dedication, his former foster mom immediately adopted the pup.)

Question 2 of 12

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There's a chance dogs know their owners are coming home due to telepathy.

Most researchers think the reason your dog is waiting at the door when you come home is due to environmental clues. The most obvious: She heard your car in the street or your footsteps on the walk. Or maybe she learned to associate the school bus that always makes rounds at a certain time a few minutes before you head in the door.

But there have been experiments where dogs have somehow sensed an owner's departure from work or another location, even when those times have been random.

British researcher Rupert Sheldrake did a series of experiments over two years with a woman and her dog Jaytee. She would return home by car, bike or taxi at various times every day and the dog would go to the window to wait for her at the time she left her destination to come home.

Telepathy? Maybe, says Sheldrake.

Question 3 of 12

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Dogs can hear higher frequencies about twice that of human ears.

Dogs can hear higher pitched sounds than people and can detect a frequency range of 67-45,000 Hz, compared to a human range of about 64-23,000 Hz. That's why they often hear noises we don't and some higher-frequency sounds can actually frighten them.

Hearing abilities often vary depending on breed and age. Dogs with upright ears, like German shepherds, often have more acute hearing than dogs with floppy ears that cover the ear canal.

Question 4 of 12

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What are dogs trained to detect around beehives?

American foulbrood is a killer bacteria that wipes out honeybee hives, spreading rapidly and killing bee larvae. If caught early enough, the infection can be treated with antibiotics.

With their incredible ability to find drugs, lost people, bombs, and bed bugs, dogs can be trained to find this bacteria too. They walk between the hives and sit down to alert their handler if they catch the scent. Human inspectors can examine about 50 hives in a day looking for the bacteria, but a well-trained dog can inspect about 100 hives in an hour.

Because bees don't take too kindly to a dog in their midst, the inspections are often done in fall and winter when the bees are much less active and less likely to sting a dog on its tender nose.

Question 5 of 12

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How quickly do the fastest dogs run?

Most dogs run, on average, about 19 miles per hour. But the speedy greyhound has been clocked at a remarkable 45 mph. That's compared to the fastest land mammal, a cheetah, which runs at about 68 mph, and a regular human (meaning not an athlete) who runs at about 11 mph.

Other quick breeds include the vizsla, saluki and whippet. Some owners of herding breeds say these dogs can hit amazing speeds in competitions.

“There are no good studies on this, but it looks like greyhounds are not substantially faster than some other breeds like border collies and probably other larger, lightweight breeds,” Dr. Christine Zink, a canine sports-medicine veterinarian, tells VetStreet. “For example, by my calculations, many fly ball dog teams, which are timed to the hundredths of a second, are traveling at 37 to 40 mph when they hit the box.”

Question 6 of 12

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Dogs have about five times the number of taste buds as humans do.

This is one area where a dog's super abilities are lacking just a tad. Humans have about 9,000 taste buds compared with only 1,700 in dogs.

Sometimes people think that dogs have stronger GI tracts that can handle rotten meat or filthy water so they feed them spoiled food or let them drink from streams or ponds. That's a lousy idea! They can get sick from bacteria and other microorganisms. In fact, a study from a pet health insurance company found that stomach upset was one of the primary reasons for dog vet visits.

Question 7 of 12

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Dogs have been found to sniff out:

In many studies, dogs have been found to detect certain cancers by smelling urine or breath samples, picking up on the chemicals released by malignant tissues. Dogs have been trained to alert their owners to low blood glucose after sniffing minor changes associated with the blood sugar drop.

And although it is impossible to teach a service dog to predict a seizure, Jennifer Arnold, founder of Canine Assistants, tells WebMD that the majority of service dogs eventually develop that ability on their own, alerting their owners by pawing or tugging them to the ground when they sense a seizure is coming.

Question 8 of 12

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Dogs may be able to sense earthquakes before they happen.

For centuries many people have believed that animals have acted strangely before the Earth started shaking. In early Greece, dogs howled as rats, weasels and snakes moved to safer ground days before an earthquake hit.

While many scientists are skeptical that dogs or any other animals have ESP to predict these events, dog behaviorist Stanley Coren suggests its not anything supernatural, but rather a dog's incredible hearing that senses the ground's seismic shift. The dogs might be reacting to the grinding and breaking of rocks underground that precede earthquakes, and responding by becoming agitated and anxious.

Question 9 of 12

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black bulldog looking at a laptop
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Your dog could pick you out of a photo lineup.

You know your dog recognizes you in person, but what if he was looking at a picture of you on a computer screen?

Researchers at the University of Helsinki showed family dogs and kenneled dogs photos of people on a computer and tracked their reactions. Pet dogs were more interested in images of people in general and they showed much more interest in the people they recognized, according to the study, the results of which were published in the journal Animal Cognition.

Question 10 of 12

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Chihuahua barking while woman sleeps
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Brave dogs bark to wake up their owners and save them from fires.

We've all heard those amazing tales of courageous dogs that have barked to wake their owners up in the middle of the night when their houses have been ablaze.

No doubt, the alert helped rouse the people and get them out of a dangerous situation. But we may be giving the canines too much credit. The dogs simply may be barking because they're scared and want their owners to do something.

“They’re not saying ‘Run, run, run.’ They’re saying, ‘Wake up and save me, something bad is happening,’” certified animal behaivorist Stephen Zawistowski tells WebMD. “We have to put this into context ... We see a lot of cases where pets wake people up and there’s nothing wrong.”

Question 11 of 12

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How many words can the average dog learn?

Don't feel guilty if your dog only knows "stay" some of the time. According to canine researcher Stanley Coren, average intelligence dogs can learn 165 words, while "super dogs" like border collies and poodles can learn 250 words.

Chaser, a border collie owned by a psychologist in South Carolina, knows more than 1,000 words. At one point, she learned the names of two toys each day.

Question 12 of 12

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A dog's vision is about four times better than a human's.

Although dogs have us beat in the smelling department, when it comes to vision, it's no wonder they trust their noses. Compared to our 20/20 vision, dogs clock in at about 20/75.

But the good news for pups is that have evolved to see well in low light. According to a study from researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, dogs can probably see in light five times dimmer than a human can.

You scored out of 12
chocolate Labrador wearing goggles and a cape
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