The Wet Dog Shake


It’s pretty common knowledge that when you are near a dog who has been drenched with water, you either get out of the way or get soaked. We know that what’s coming next is the massive shake that will propel water in every direction. Have you ever wondered how they manage to drench you before you even have a chance to reach for the towel? Or maybe all you’d like to know is why our furry friends do this water spraying shake. As with most things in this world, there are reasons and answers to these questions.

In just four short seconds a dog can remove 70 percent of the water from their fur by performing this glorious full body shake. Four seconds! That’s about the amount of time it takes to say, “Mary had a little lamb whose fleece was white as snow.” Their spines can only move about 30 degrees in each direction, but all that loose skin is a force to be reckoned with. The skin travels three times as fast as the backbone. This is what generates the force needed to temporarily turn your dog into a sprinkler.

The fun part, is that dogs of different sizes do their shakes differently. Big dogs have their long drawn out slow motion sort of shake, while smaller dogs are like a tornado. A large dog will shake 4 times every second, yet a small dog shakes at around 9 times per second. It’s all about the force needed to fling the water.


It’s believed that this is a survival technique for four legged furry mammals who might unexpectedly fall into water in the winter. The amount of energy it would take to dry themselves, without being able to shake off the excess water, would be fatal. The shake is an energy efficient solution to a problem such as this. Now if only someone could convince them that it’s not necessarily needed in the dead of summer.


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Julie Antonson

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