Dogs have always had a better sense of smell compared to people and other species, and it has allowed them to benefit from an advantage over other animals – in feeding, mating, and also in socializing with other dogs and humans.
Read on to find out more about how a dog’s sense of smell allows them to interact with the world and how different it is compared to ours.
Fun Facts About a Dog’s Sense of Smell
A dog’s nose can detect emotions
If you’ve been a dog owner for a while, you probably know that your pet can tell when you are feeling stressed or sad – they might even try to calm you down.
This is because dogs are capable of telling how you are feeling based on the smell of your skin. Whenever you have a specific emotion, your perspiration smells in a different way, which allows Fido to understand what’s going on with you.
The same rule applies to people who don’t like dogs or who are scared of them because they’re doing something bad. Burglars can be a lot more intimidated by dogs if the latter feel that they can scare them away as effortlessly as possible.
Your pet’s sense of smell is impossible to fool
Even if everything seems to be fine with a person or another animal, a dog will be able to tell if something is amiss just by smelling them.
The same goes for environments that involve body fluids – if your canine friend smells another potentially dominant dog’s scent, they’ll go out of their way to mark that territory.
Some dog noses are better than others
Believe it or not, a dog’s anatomy actually has a lot to say when it comes to how effective their sense of smell is. Brachycephalic breeds such as French Bulldogs do not tend to smell as well as their counterparts, particularly dogs with long noses.
The longer the nose, the higher the number of receptors in it – which is why breeds like the Bloodhound, the German Shepherd, or the Labrador Retriever will smell better compared to a Pug.
A wet nose is better than a dry one
Not only is a dry nose a potential sign that a pet might have a fever, but it’s also not capable of doing any service to its owner.
A cold and wet nose is much more effective when it comes to picking up scents, so a coating of mucus inside and on the surface of the nose makes it easier for the pet to interact with the world around them.
There are no good or bad smells
Given how powerful their sense of smell is, you might think that dogs tend to get disgusted by certain scents in much the same way that people do. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.
While dogs do have their preferences, especially when it comes to food, the way they look at it is a little different compared to how we, humans, see it. They can actually tell the ingredients of a certain dish, kibble, or canned variety, instead of seeing it as a ‘yummy meal.’
Why dogs smell each others’ butts
Apparently, dogs smell each others’ nether regions not only to be able to tell if their new friends are females or males but also to find out how they stand in the hierarchy of the area, what their personality is, and what behaviors they might expect from them.
A dog’s nose can tell time
Certain scents lose their potency as time goes by, whether it’s because of dust, wind, rain, or other weather factors or just because they don’t have the same amount of pheromones in them.
Consequently, a dog can tell (or at least make a rather correct assumption about) when the last time another dog went through the same area, whether it was an hour ago or yesterday.
Smelling and breathing happen differently for a dog
One of the main reasons why dogs can smell so well, especially compared to other species, is that they can breathe and smell at the same time. This constant circulation of air allows the scent chemicals to better reach every receptor on the mucous membrane of the olfactory sensing area.
A special pheromone-detecting organ
Another aspect that makes dogs and humans so different from one another is that the first actually have a vomeronasal organ that’s particularly designed to pick up on hormones released by animals and people.
This not only allows them to understand what emotions we are experiencing, but it also enables them to know practical things, such as whether or not a female in heat has recently been in the same area.
Licking enhances a dog’s smell
Anyone who has ever had a bad cold where they lost their sense of smell knows that the sense of taste follows almost immediately. There’s an undeniable connection between these two senses, and in a dog’s case, it’s even stronger.
Even if your dog doesn’t lick the area they are smelling, by licking their nose while sniffing on it, they’re effectively improving their information processing – once again, a wet nose does its job a lot better compared to a dry one.
How much better do dogs smell compared to humans?
Dogs are equipped with three hundred million olfactory receptors in their noses. By comparison, humans have just six million. Consequently, a dog can smell at least 10,000 times better than a person, even if they’re brachycephalic.
Furthermore, the part of a dog’s brain where scents are processed is up to 40 times larger than the same one in humans.