A model attempts to study why dogs are such sloppy drinkers. REUTERS

If something as complex as climate can be modelled, why not the sloppy drinking habit of dogs?

That is exactly what researchers at Virginia Tech and Purdue University did after studying various breeds and sizes of dogs.

The fluid dynamics at play when dogs drink water was modelled to show how their "incomplete" cheeks (that allow them to open their mouths wide and attack) disable them from drinking water in a neat way.

Without suction drinking, the dogs (and cats) have to resort to a two-way action of plunging and pulling tongues. But unlike cats which do it ever so neatly, dogs splash a lot of water in the process.

Where volumes of water taken in increase compared to cats, it comes with a speed to beat gravity.

The team studied the water columns created when dogs withdraw their tongue from water at acceleration rates five times over gravity.

To model this, the team placed a camera under the water trough.

The larger the dog, the bigger is the area of the tongue wetted in the splash down.

To study further, the team used glass tubes to simulate a dog's tongue. By mimicking the acceleration and column formation during the exit process, they measured the volume of water withdrawn.

With gravity being the main reason for water falling back, they realised that dogs are smart enough to close their mouth just before the water column collapses back to the bath.

Diving dynamics of plunging seabirds, the skittering motion of frogs and the response of leaves to raindrops now await modelling and research.