They used high-speed cameras to study the effect and discovered that while a dog’s backbone can only move 30 degrees in either direction, its loose skin can swing a full 90 degrees. Engineer David Hu tells the NY Daily News, “The loose skin lets the dog whip much farther and faster to the left and the right. This results in three times the amplitude, three times the velocity and nine times the centrifugal force.”
Dogs stop shaking after about four seconds because the amount of water being shaken off, tapers off and the animals have evolved to getting the most dryness for the least amount of effort.
The research team also discovered that not all animals are created equal when it comes to the technique. The larger the animal, the slower they shake. Sheep do it, pigs do it, even rats and mice do it. Mice for example shake about 30 times per second while large animals like bears need to only shake 4 times per second.
So what does all this mean and why should we really care? Hu tells news.com.au, “In the future, self-cleaning and self-drying may arise as an important capability for cameras and other equipment subject to wet or dusty conditions.” He says it might even be able to help improve the ability of remote robotic space probes to shake off accumulating dust.
So the next time your pooch does the wet dog shake and gives you a soaking, instead of getting angry you can stare at awe at this evolutionary feat of nature that’s now teaching scientists a thing or two.