Can Dogs See Ghosts?

We all know dogs are able to sense plenty of things we can’t. So, are ghosts one of them? In this article we’re trying to answer the old-age question: “do dogs see ghosts?”.
Dachshund at the window
Dachshund at the window
Dachshund at the window

Our canine friends are loyal, gentle and all-around amazing beings. But it’s their ghostbuster-like behaviour that makes them unlike any other family member: howling at the moon, staring into empty space, getting vocal for no apparent reason or running out of the room as if chasing some invisible enemy.

Baffled owners, scratching their head as to what can possibly stir their dogs into action, have started looking for otherworldly explanations. Could it be that our four-legged friends have a direct line to the paranormal? Can dogs see ghosts? Before we can answer the question, we need to understand what exactly can dogs sense that we can’t. It turns out, quite a lot.

Dogs and their amazing senses

If ghosts were real, dogs would be the first to know about it. With senses well beyond our human range, it makes sense to wonder about what lies outside our own detection abilities that dogs have access to. Their impressive senses of smell and hearing show just how much first-hand information we’re missing.

Smell

It is estimated that a dog’s sense of smell is up to 100,000 stronger than ours. This means that instead of asking ourselves “can dogs see spirits”, a better question would be “can dogs smell spirits”. A dog’s heightened sense of smell which is so spot on that it can even be admitted as evidence in a court of law. If there is a ghost-specific fragrance, our dogs are familiar with the smell for sure.

Hearing

Dogs’ hearing ability is off the human charts too, which means they can hear things we can’t. Our top limit for audible sounds is at the 20,000 Hertz mark. According to akc.org some dogs can hear sounds as high as 65,000 Hz. So, if a friendly Casper is trying to talk to us in a high-pitch voice, chances are it will be our dog picking up our end of the conversation, not us.

So, can dogs see ghosts?

As for the actual answer to whether or not dogs can see ghosts, the jury is still out. Scientifically, we don’t have proof that ghosts exists. In terms of dog senses, there are still many things to discover. But anecdotally many people seem to have already discovered the answer. From barking at something that isn’t there to staying close to the favourite spot of a deceased member of the family or accurately predicting disasters – there is a collection of evidence dog lovers have put together to prove the case that canine superpowers are real.

dog in the park

If you don’t want to take a huge spiritual leap, there are a few simpler explanations for strange dog behaviours.

Heightened senses

Dogs can pick up many sounds and smells we’re not even aware of. Even the vibrations created by a passing lorry can be felt by dogs long before we can see the vehicle. Dogs can also be startled by tiny creatures such as a beetle. It’s easy for us to miss it and start thinking they’re fighting an invisible ghost. They can also smell a fellow dog or other animals even if they’re outside, well out of our direct line of vision. So instead of assuming dogs see ghosts, the odds are, it’s just a fellow worldly creature we just haven’t noticed yet.

Attachment to a person

Some owners have noticed their dog staying close to objects of a deceased member of the family such as the bed or a seat at the table. While we’re still uncertain about the full range of abilities when it comes to our canine companions, a simple explanation is that they’re just re-enacting the bond they had with that family member.

Precognition for disasters

The belief that dogs can sense natural disasters before they happen is not new. But modern science has allowed us to understand what exactly makes dogs the first to know about an impending earthquake, a tsunami or a tornado. It turns out, that they have an ability to detect barometric pressure, a sign that the weather is about to change. Some specialists also believe that a dog’s heightened hearing sense allows them to hear seconds in advance the seismic activity underground which might cause them to start barking and acting frenetically as if they’re seeing a ghost.

Labrador puppy playing

Sign of a serious health issue

Unfortunately, there is another explanation for why we get the impression that dogs see ghosts. Restlessness or increased wandering can be signs of an illness called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome which tends to affect older dogs. If you’re also noticing disturbed sleeping patterns or confusion, make sure you check these symptoms with a vet to rule out any illnesses.

Although the answer to the question “can dogs see spirits” is a disappointing “not likely”, dogs are amazing companions, intelligent, loyal and with abilities that often surpass anything we are able to do. Here are even more amazing facts about dogs that will surely make an impression.