Why are dogs such messy drinkers?

Why Are Dogs Such Messy Drinkers?


Have you ever found yourself wiping up puddles around your dog’s bowl and thought, “Why? Why do dogs make such a mess while drinking water?” Apparently researchers at Virginia Tech did, because they conducted experiments that measured lapping in nineteen dogs of various breeds and found out why water seems to go everywhere except a dog’s mouth while it drinks. 

As we all know, dogs can’t drink like humans. You won’t find a dog kicking back sipping a beverage from a chilled glass on a warm summer day (at least, I haven’t yet). This is not only because their lack of opposable thumbs prevents them from raising a glass to their lips, but also because dogs don’t have full cheeks, so they can’t create suction to drink whereas humans, horses and elephants can.

So how do dogs get water into their mouths? Most people think that dogs curl their tongues forward and scoop water like we scoop soup with a spoon. In fact, when a dog’s tongue plunges into a bowl of water, it actually curls backward, not forward, and the water scooped in the back of the tongue doesn’t always end up in the dog’s mouth (spoiler alert- that’s the water you clean up off your floor). 

It turns out that a dog’s drinking technique is way more complicated than just scooping water into its mouth. It has to do with inertial, gravitational, and surface tension forces, all of which contribute to the formation of a water column that follows the dogs tongue up from the bowl. The cycle is completed by a precisely timed bite, allowing the dog to catch the displaced water. 



Alex Harbour-Independant writer to Maynard Dog Training Solutions


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