Why the TSA Prefers Dogs With Floppy Ears Rather Than Pointy Ones

Mark Mainz, Getty Images
Mark Mainz, Getty Images

When the Transportation Security Administration “hires” dogs to work at passenger screening zones in airports, its employees will be checking for one specific physical trait. Do the dog's ears hang low? Do they wobble to and fro? If so, they just might be the right dog for the job.

According to ABC News, the TSA will now give priority to floppy-eared dogs over pointy-eared ones, but only in sections of the airport where passengers and bags are screened. That’s because the new policy has nothing to do with differences in how the breeds perform (there are none) and everything to do with how comfortable passengers feel around the dogs.

David Pekoske, head of the TSA, says floppy-eared dogs like Labrador and golden retrievers tend to be perceived as friendlier and less threatening than pointy-eared dogs like German shepherds, even if this isn't rooted in reality. The TSA noticed that Labs have a calming effect on travelers—especially children—while German shepherds often do the opposite.

“You'll see parents kind of pull their kids away from a dog with pointy ears because, I think, we as a culture recognize that as a tactical dog or a police dog," TSA assistant administrator Michael Bilello tells ABC News.

However, that doesn’t mean the pointy-eared pooches will be out of a job soon. Bilello says the “health and operational capabilities” of a dog are still more important than the shape of her ears, and no dog will be removed from its current post due to the new policy. The only change is that floppy-eared dogs, if available, will be given preference for openings in passenger screening areas. Roughly four in five recent canine recruits have ears that fall flat, and this is a ratio the TSA hopes to stick with.

According to The Washington Post, the TSA uses about 1200 dogs of seven different breeds for passenger screening purposes. Only two of those breeds—German shepherds and Belgian Malinoises—have pointy ears.

[h/t ABC]

These Rugged Steel-Toe Boots Look and Feel Like Summer Sneakers

Indestructible Shoes
Indestructible Shoes

Thanks to new, high-tech materials, our favorite shoes are lighter and more comfortable than ever. Unfortunately, one thing most sneakers are not is durable. They can’t protect your feet from the rain, let alone heavy objects. Luckily, as their name implies, Indestructible Shoes has come up with a line of steel-toe boots that look and feel like regular sneakers.

Made to be incredibly strong but still lightweight, every pair of Indestructible Shoes has steel toes, skid-proof grips, and shock-absorption technology. But they don't look clunky or bulky, which makes them suitable whether you're going to work, the gym, or a family gathering.

The Hummer is Indestructible Shoes’s most well-rounded model. It features European steel toes to protect your feet, while the durable "flymesh" material wicks moisture to keep your feet feeling fresh. The insole features 3D arch support and extra padding in the heel cup. And the outsole features additional padding that distributes weight and helps your body withstand strain.

Indestructible Shoes Hummer.
The Hummer from Indestructible Shoes.
Indestructible Shoes

There’s also the Xciter, Indestructible Shoes’s latest design. The company prioritized comfort for this model, with the same steel toes as the Hummer, but with additional extra-large, no-slip outsoles capable of gripping even smooth, slippery surfaces—like, say, a boat deck. The upper is made of breathable moisture-wicking flymesh to help keep your feet dry in the rain or if you're wearing them on the water.

If you want a more breathable shoe for the peak summer months, there's the Ryder. This shoe is designed to be a stylish solution to the problem of sweaty feet, thanks to a breathable mesh that maximizes airflow and minimizes sweat and odor. Meanwhile, extra padding in the midsole will keep your feet protected.

You can get 44 percent off all styles if you order today.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

The Reason Your Dog Follows You Everywhere

Crew, Unsplash
Crew, Unsplash

Depending on your mood, a dog that follows you everywhere can be annoying or adorable. The behavior is also confusing if you're not an expert on pet behavior. So what is it about the canine companions in our lives that makes them stick by our sides at all times?

Most experts agree on a few different reasons why some dogs are clingy around their owners. One is their pack mentality. Dogs may have been domesticated thousands of years ago, but they still consider themselves to be part of a group like their wild ancestors. When there are no other dogs around, their human family becomes their pack. According to Reader's Digest, this genetic instinct is also what motivates dogs to watch you closely and seek out your physical touch.

The second reason for the behavior has to do with the bond between you and your pet. As veterinarian Dr. Rachel Barrack told the American Kennel Club, puppies as old as 6 months can imprint on their human owners like they would their own mothers. Even older dogs will bond with the humans in their lives who show them care and affection. In these cases, a dog will shadow its owner because it sees them as an object of trust and security.

The last possible explanation for why your dog follows you has more to do with your treatment of them than their natural instincts. A popular training tactic is positive reinforcement—i.e. rewarding a dog with treats, pets, and praise when they perform positive behaviors. The point is to help your dog associate good behaviors with rewards, but after a while, they may start to associate your presence with rewards as well. That means if your dog is following you, they may be looking for treats or attention.

A clingy dog may be annoying, but it usually isn't a sign of a larger problem. If anything, it means your dog sees you in a positive light. So enjoy the extra companionship, and don't be afraid to close the door behind when you need some alone time.