If you’ve ever watched the 2004 horror comedy movie Shaun of the Dead, you might remember the now-legendary line “dogs can’t look up”. This line has moved from film into urban legend, with many people wondering….can dogs look up?
Here’s that legendary scene from Shaun of the Dead:
Can dogs look up?
If you’re a dog owner, you’ll know that this so-called fact “dogs can’t look up” is a myth, not a reality!
But having said that, it’s a fact that dogs’ necks don’t have the same range of motion as ours – so they won’t look straight up.
Dog head movements
Dogs are four-legged, and their spine is horizontal to support their bone structure. As humans, we have vertical spines and we can easily look all around with a wide range of motion without needing to move too much. But dogs need to turn their necks completely to get a full view of their surroundings.
If you offer your dog a treat, it’s natural for them to sit first and then look up at you – rather than looking up at you with their spine in a horizontal position
Why can’t some dogs look up?
Even though dogs can technically look up – there are some health and age related conditions which means dogs have trouble looking up, or are unable to look up at all.
Older dogs can develop weak bones and arthritis that can reduce their neck mobility and prevent them from looking upwqards.
Neck pain and injuries
Dogs can occasionally get injuries from jumping off something high, falling, or getting hit. This can cause neck injuries or slipped discs that can make it hard for your dog to move their neck – and to look upwards.
Large breeds can also suffer from neck pain and injury due to spinal cord compressions which can inhibit their ability to move their neck with a full range of motion.
In “long” breeds like basset hounds, corgis, and dachshunds, invertebral disc disease can cause severe neck pain which make it difficult for dogs to look around – having to move their whole body to do so.
In summary – can dogs look up?
Since the release of that Shaun of the Dead there has been ongoing controversy about whether dogs can look up or not.
Dog owners know that their dogs can look upwards (especially if there are treats around!) – so it’s a myth that dogs can’t look up.
This myth has most likely gained traction as dogs don’t have the same levels of movement in their head and neck as either humans or other animals. In addition, many dogs can suffer from health problems that can reduce the range of movement in their necks.