Have you ever noticed when you take your dog out on a walk they always INSIST on sniffing that gross stain on the sidewalk? Or when you walk by a spot where another dog just peed, your dog has to sniff it and mark right over it? Or when they greet another dog by sticking their nose right in their “area”? Dogs rely on their noses just as much (if not more) than we rely on our eyes to help them “see” and learn things about their surroundings, so here are some fun facts about your dog’s nose!
The slits on the side of your dog’s nose help them pick out and isolate smells and allows them to breathe in a steady stream of air, while still processing scents. The front nostrils allows air into and back out of the lungs, while the slits allow the scents to be sent to the brain and processed. Since humans only have our front nostrils, once we exhale air, all those scents are forced out, along with the rest of the air.
Your dog has a Jacobson’s organ, which is located at the roof of the mouth, which helps your pet to detect pheromones. The Jacobson’s organ does not relay scents to the olfactory bulbs, but to the part of the brain involved with mating. Dogs, among other animals, will sometimes exhibit the Flehman response, where they curl their upper lip in order to take these odors in easily. The Jacobson’s organ is how dogs identify when another dog is ready to mate, how their owners are feeling, and even if someone is ill. They use it to things such as seizures or heart attacks that are about to happen!
Unlike humans, dogs can move each of their nostrils independently from the other, also known as “stereoscopic.” This is why dogs are great at tracking scents, and how they’re able to tell which direction the smell comes from.
Hounds, such as Beagles and Bloodhounds, have an incredible sense of smell, even more so than your average dog. A dog’s sense of smell depends on the size of the dog’s nose. A dog with a wider and longer nose, has more room for scent analyzing cells! Dogs with short noses, like Pugs or French Bulldogs, have short noses, so their sense of smell is not as keen.
The wetness of a dog’s nose helps their sense of smell. The wetness is actually mucus, and the layer of mucus helps absorb scents. The mucus helps to “pre-sort and identify smells” and then latches to nerve cells. This way, the scents are efficiently organized and sent to the brain to identify.
On average, a dog has about 300 million scent receptors, cats have about 200 million scent receptors, while humans only have about 5 million scent receptors! Dogs have a much better sense of smell than cats and humans, which explains why they use their noses to “see.”
A dog’s nose is similar to a human’s fingers--every dog has a unique noseprint. According to Dr. Karen Becker, Canada has been using dogs’ noseprints to identify lost dogs for decades! Some companies have followed suit, and it can be used as an alternative instead of microchipping.
Your dog’s nose is incredibly strong, and plays an important part in their everyday lives. Their strong sense of smell is why they’re attracted to Real Dog Box treats, and why fresh food is a better option, especially for picky dogs. Go ahead, test your dog’s sense of smell, and see what smells stronger and better to them--fresh food or processed food, or try out a scent hunt game!