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The science behind how dogs drink

There's serious power behind the sloppy, adorable way your dog slurps water.


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Internet Culture

Posted on Dec 9, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 12:58 am CDT


Dogs are not just messy drinkers, scientists who have researched the subject say—they are powerful too. They are so strong, in fact, that when a big dog pulls up its tongue after slapping it down on the surface of water, the acceleration can be up to eight times the force of gravity.

Small dogs may exert only four Gs; cats, as they delicately lap their drink of choice, settle for one or two.

For anyone who wonders exactly what kind of science is going on in these studies, the field is fluid dynamics, and the act of lapping up milk or water is an example of a nonlinear interaction between a soft body (the animal’s tongue) and a fluid. So take that, Higgs boson!

To investigate how dogs drink, Sungwhan Jung, Jake Socha and Sean Gart at Virginia Tech and Pavlos Vlachos at Purdue recorded video of 19 dogs of various breeds and sizes lapping up water. They also analyzed video of tubes of different sizes dipping into the water and pulling back, as a dog’s tongue does, to test the importance of surface area.

Read more in the New York Times.

Screengrab via TheNewYorkTimes/YouTube

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*First Published: Dec 9, 2014, 10:00 am CST