What Makes Dogs Sloppy Drinkers?

I’ve often wondered why my three year old Labrador, Reese, creates such a puddle around the water bowl and then invariably feels she needs to put her wet chin on my lap for an ear scratch. Scientists have now determined that the ga-lunk, ga-lunk splashing has some hidden precision in the inevitable mess!

Fluid biophysicists say it is impossible to train dogs to drink nicely. Dogs (and cats) can’t close their mouths securely enough to suck up liquids, so they lap them up instead. Lappers reach out with the tongue and then retract it quickly, drawing up a thin column of water underneath. Just when that column of water is about to collapse back into the dish, a dog snaps his jaws closed, capturing the water.

The researchers recognized the precise timing required after filming 19 dogs, ranging in size from a Yorker to a Great Dane. The films definitely showed what makes dogs so splashy. The dogs plunge a lot more surface area of tongue into the liquid than cats do. They then retract their tongues with rapid acceleration of up to 4 g’s, but can only capture part of that water column.

So I’m resigned now to finding a bigger mat for under Reese’s bowl.

Click on the link to view the video footage of some of the dogs in the science experiment:


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