Is it true that dogs can’t look up?

This question rose to fame in the 2004 film Shaun of the Dead, where Simon Pegg’s character proclaimed that pub landlord ‘Big Al’ was not to be trusted as he wrongly believed, according to Pegg’s character, that dogs couldn’t look up (quote: “Yeah, but Big Al says dogs can’t look up!”). Interestingly, though, Big Al may not have been entirely wide of the mark.

Dogs will gaze up at you when they are begging for treats, or trying to persuade you that it’s time for walkies. When they do, they are usually sitting down, so that their spine is pointing almost straight up and down. From their normal standing position on all fours, dogs can’t lift their heads very far above horizontal. What’s more, their ears are only adapted to be able to accurately locate sounds in the horizontal plane. If you call your dog from upstairs, it often won’t be able to tell if your voice is coming from above.