What goes on in a dog's head? You may think it's just visions of chasing cats and belly rubs, but a dog's brain is a very complicated organ. It's not so different from our own brains. Each part of a dog's brain controls a set of vital functions like memory, the senses or motor skills.
The Anatomy of a Dog Brain
The front part of the brain is called the telencephalon. Information from the five senses is interpreted there, and it is also where thought occurs. Dogs have large telencephalons which makes their ears, nose and eyes exceptionally sensitive. It also is responsible for dogs' undeniable personalities, and their advanced social behaviors.
Behind the telencephalon lies the diencephalon. Most basic functions are controlled in this portion of the brain. Chewing, breathing, equilibrium and the collection of information from the senses all occur here. This part of the brain is highly advanced in dogs, contributing to their fast reflexes, agility and the acuteness of their hearing.
This part of the brain is behind the diencephalon. It is responsible for finer muscle skills and the regulation of blood flow and pulse rate, and is also the brain's reward center. For dogs, this part of the brain contributes to their remarkable endurance and stamina and is the part of the brain responsible for their love of playing fetch and other games.
At the base of a dog's brain, where it connects to the spinal cord, is a structure known as the medulla oblongata. Here the basic functions that occur without thinking are regulated. Digestion, heart beat, respiration, swallowing and sneezing are all controlled in this area of the brain. The medulla oblongata is the first part of the brain that develops in puppies before they are born.
In the middle of a dog's brain is the corpus callosum. This is a wall of nerve cells which facilitates communication between the left and right side of the telencephalon and diencephalon. Depending on the breed of dog, the corpus callosum's size and the speed at which it allows the halves of the brain to interact can vary significantly.