Are there right-handed and left-handed animals?

Although, at the species level, there is no tendency to use the right extremity as occurs in humans, animals can be right-handed and left-handed. It may seem incredible, but vertebrates also have a tendency to use one of their limbs more than others. Within each species, the percentage of lefties and righties is usually 50%.

Although this characteristic is not a determining factor in domestic animals, it is always curious to know more about the pet that lives with you. Therefore, here we show you which animals are left-handed or right-handed and how to find out.

Right-handed and left-handed animals in the wild

Some studies have shown that in chimpanzees and gorillas, the use of the right hand is 65% and 75%, respectively. Furthermore, it appears to be positively correlated with the hand that the mother uses. For this reason, many researchers consider that the use of the right or left hand in primates is something learned, unlike humans, which seems to be something innate.

The subject of right-handed and left-handed animals does not focus only on primates and humans, since any vertebrate animal will show a preference for the use of one limb or another.

Brain asymmetry and right-handed and left-handed animals

Vertebrate animals, including humans, they have the brain divided into two halves or hemispheres. This lateralization also affects the rest of the body. In this way, the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and the left cerebral hemisphere controls the right side.

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This could be the reason why, in humans, some of us have more drive on the right side and others on the left. The same thing happens in the rest of the vertebrate species, since lateralization can cause right-handed and left-handed animals to exist.

The developmental processes that cause lateralization are still under study. Nevertheless, There are many empirical trials in animals that show that they can have greater command of their right or left hand, leg, wing and flipper .

On the other hand, research carried out on rats shows that right-handed rats have a concentration of a neurotransmitter in a different brain region than left-handed or ambidextrous rats. Despite this, this is a very broad area, which still requires much research.

In any case, It is unknown how these connections are created that could lead to an animal being right-handed or left-handed. It is not yet known if they are influenced by genetic, environmental or behavioral factors, there are only highly criticized theories.

Why is it important to know if a dog is right-handed or left-handed?

Whether animals are right-handed or left-handed doesn’t just come down to which limb they use. When an individual uses his right paw, it shows us that the left side of his brain is more developed and could have more neural connections in that hemisphere.

The brain as such is divided into different areas distributed in groups of neurons. If an animal uses some more than others, this could define many factors of its behavior. For example, a right-handed animal may have a greater orientation capacity than a left-handed one or, a left-handed one, more capacity to concentrate.

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If we focus all this on the dog, we will know which animals are more successful when it comes to being guide, therapy or help dogs, police dogs, rescue dogs, etc. It’s more, For this jobs only right-handed dogs are sought.

How to know if your pet is right or left handed?

It is so easy for us to know if your cat or dog is right-handed or left-handed. We can think that simply by calling it, when the animal is sitting or lying down, and seeing which limb advances first, we will know if the pet is left-handed or right-handed. Unfortunately, it is not that simple.

To be able to say with some certainty that your dog or cat uses one leg or the other, you will have to repeat several exercises dozens of times. The tricks you can try are:

  • Hide a piece of food under a piece of furniture where only one paw can fit.
  • For dogs, keep a treat in your fist and see which paw the hand hits you with.
  • For cats: From your upright position, hold food. The cat will rise to try to catch it with one of its legs (or both, remember that there are ambidextrous animals)
  • As we advance, you can also call him from the sitting position and see which leg he advances

Finally, remember to take note of each activity to try to find out if your cat or dog is right-handed or left-handed. Although this characteristic is not of special relevance in the animal’s routine, It’s always good to know more about your partner.

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