Dogs are not known for their dining etiquette. They eat discarded chicken bones and yellow snow. They stick their heads inside dishwashers to “pre-wash” the flatware. They bark at their human companions, demanding to share the baked brie. And when they drink, they simultaneously lap up water, spray spittle and drool, redefining the meaning of backwash and marking their territory with slobber. But their sloppy, adorably crude drinking style might actually be an efficient, precise means of quenching thirst, according to a new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
(These dogs drink coconut water, not tap, you rube.)
The canine accolades come courtesy of engineering professors at Virginia Tech, who filmed 19 dogs of different breed and size visit their water bowls. In analyzing the footage, researchers noticed that dogs consume water quite methodically. A thirsty pup immerses its tongue into the water and bites down, with its tongue curled south like a ladle, thereby capturing the water underneath its tongue. Then, the dog pulls its tongue back inside its mouth, “and a column of water forms and rises,” said study authors in a press release.
Of course, these steps occur in one fluid, saliva-flecking motion.
And — prepare to feel superior, dog lovers — cats don’t scoop up water with the same efficiency. The same authors, who previously looked at feline drinking technique, found considerable differences between the rival species. Cats just skim the water, without fully dunking their tongues. Then, they close their mouths with an “elegant water column” sitting on the upper sides of their tongues. (They would.)
"Dog drinking is more acceleration driven, using unsteady inertia to draw water upward in a column, whereas cats employ steady inertia," according to the study release.
Everyone knows steady inertia is a losing strategy.
Here's a video from BBC Earth Unplugged on cats and dogs' drinking techniques:
And, in case the day calls for more videos of dogs drinking...