Did you know that dog’s sense of smell is 10,000-100,000 times stronger than humans? Cool huh? They also possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to only about six million in us. The part of a dog’s brain that’s devoted to analyzing smells is also around forty times greater.
To conclude our 3-part series on dog senses, we’ll discuss the cool facts about your dog’s nose, so sit back and prepare to be amazed!
The Importance of Noses to Dogs
Canine noses are for more than just smelling the roses; their smell and site are the most reliable senses they possess. While we mainly depend on our vision for interpreting visual data, dogs use both smell and site to assess their environments and communicate. They commit much of their brainpower to decipher odors, which is why they can smell between 10,000 to 100,000 times better than humans.
Facts About Dog’s Sense of Smell
Dogs can smell human emotions. Have you ever had a dog sniff you when you’re sad, excited, or angry? Aside from smelling food from a mile away, it seems, they can detect fear or sadness in humans due to their sensitivity to adrenaline — the fight or flight response. An increased heart rate and blood flow send distinct body chemicals to our skin surface, so that “sense of fear” dogs can detect almost immediately. This is primarily why dogs make great emotional support or service animals because they can smell anxiety and panic attacks or other fear in their humans.
Dogs can also smell disease, such as cancer, as they leave specific odor signatures in our bodies and secretions, including sweat, breath, and urine.
- Your dog can smell you and your friends. We use all kinds of products to mask our natural bodily odors, but it doesn’t matter to our dogs — they smell everything, yes, even the groin area. Interestingly, this area is rich in apocrine sweat glands that produce pheromones that relay important social information to your pup. This is why many dogs will greet you (or embarrassingly, your relatives and friends) by sniffing your nether region.
Dogs sniff each other for information. When you take your doggo to the park or on a walk and encounter other dogs, they will immediately sniff their genitals or behinds. They are doing this for a good reason, though, since dogs primarily sniff each other to detect important details about this new friend (or foe). They can smell what this new creature last ate or even tell how old they may be — fascinating right?
When they “mark their territory” all over the neighborhood, it’s to communicate with other dogs. When they sniff trees and then leave their calling card, it’s a way of learning new information about other dogs in the area.
- Your dog’s breed determines how strong their sense of smell. As stated earlier, dogs have millions of scent receptors deep within their noses; however, not all dogs are created equal. Regarding their sense of smell, it doesn’t usually have to do with their size. For example, Dachshunds have approximately 125 million olfactory receptors, but bloodhounds have at least twice that much (300 million) — this is why they’re great for tracking. German Shepherds, a popular breed for service animals, have about 225 million.
- Dog’s nostrils are a complex machine. They are structured differently than humans and have different methods for breathing than we do. A dog’s nostrils contain separate openings for inhaling and exhaling and operate independently. (meaning that they can detect various smells coming from different directions) Dogs also sniff the ground to deeply investigate every smell they encounter. For example, if a dog detects an insect, they will stuff their nose further in the ground, (sniffing at least five to six times per second) and wag their tail.
- The human smell is so keen to dogs, they can follow it over time, even through water. The odor rises to the water’s surface, enabling the dog to detect the scent. “Bomb” dogs can also smell and detect a trillionth of a gram of explosives; nevertheless, it’s not the bomb they smell, but the odor into its components. They are trained to pick out the precise chemicals of the bomb.
- Dogs smell in 3-D. Just as human eyes compile two slightly different views of the world, which our brain then combines to form a 3-D picture, dogs can do the same. They smell with each nostril separately, so it allows their brain to use the different odor profiles from each nostril; this determines precisely the location of smelly objections.
Since the beginning of time, dog’s noses have evolved for their survival. According to Dr. David C.Dorman, professor of toxicology at North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicin, dogs have used their sense of smell to help them navigate major life events, including finding a mate, offspring, food, and predators.
- Dogs do best with wet noses. If you’ve ever wondered why this is the case, it’s because moisture is essential to the canine sense of smell. The wet outer nose and mucus-covered nasal canal effectively seize scent particles. This is why dogs will lick their noses when they become dry. They don’t want to miss out on crucial information with a dry nose!
- Why dogs smell better than humans. Dogs, unlike humans, have an extra olfactory tool that expands their ability to smell. What is known as Jacobsen’s organ, this unique part of a dog’s olfactory apparatus is positioned inside the nasal cavity and opening into the roof of their mouth, behind the upper incisors. This is a second olfactory system designed for chemical communication with the nerves of Jacobsen’s organ leading directly to the brain; they are different from other nasal nerves as they don’t respond to ordinary smells but to a range of substances with no odor at all. This means they can detect “undetectable” odors.
- A pup placed between two females will migrate to their mother with a quick sniff. A newborn pup’s sense of smell becomes enhanced, so it can detect its mother’s milk source, thus enabling them to distinguish their mother from other nursing dogs — another cool thing about Jacobsen’s organ. They also have heat sensors in their nose if they wander away and need to locate their mothers.
- Jacobsen’s organ also correlates with the part of the brain that deals with mating. By identifying pheromones, it provides male and female dogs with details on whether the member of the opposite sex is available to breed.
- The nose and Jacobsen’s organ work together with the dog’s odor detection system providing delicate information that neither system could achieve itself. When a dog curls his lips and flares his nostrils, it opens up this organ, increasing the nasal cavity’s exposure to odor molecules. This results in an amazing and effective smelling machine.
Protect Your Dog’s Senses
Now that we’ve concluded our series of dog sense blogs visit our product page to learn how you can protect your fur baby’s eyes, ears, and nose. We offer supplements, along with premium dog car seat covers to protect your vehicle. Match our covers to your car, truck, van, or crossover for the best protection available.