Canine Facts

Smell This: 7 Mind-Blowing Facts About Your Dog’s Sense of Smell

Two Dogs Meeting

Oooo that smell / Can’t you smell that smell?

–“That Smell.” Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1977.

You might not be able to smell that smell, but in all likelihood, your dog can. A dog’s sense of smell is simply amazing—there’s no other way to put it.

To get an idea of how strong a dog’s sense of smell is, consider this: A dog has up to 300 million olfactory receptors in its nose, whereas people have about six million. We live in a visual world; dogs live in an olfactory world.

As far as dogs are concerned, things don’t stink; rather, things smell interesting (although there are exceptions, which you can read about here). Poop? That’s interesting. Pee? That’s interesting. Spilled ketchup? That’s interesting—and it tastes good! And so on …

So, to help you appreciate your dog even more than you already do—if that’s possible—and to help you understand why dogs do what they do, we’ve compiled 7 cool facts about their amazing sense of smell.

1. Butt sniffing
Dogs have two small pouches on either side of their anus that releases a smelly (to us) fluid that helps them learn more about each other, such as gender, reproductive status, health, emotional state and even diet (“Did you eat ketchup? Where’d you get it?”).

Similarly, when a dog pokes her nose in your butt or crotch, she’s not trying to be rude or embarrass you—she’s just trying to learn more about you.

2. A brain built for smelling
The part of a dog’s brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is, proportionally speaking, 40 times greater than ours.

3. Jacobson’s Organ
Dogs have an organ in the roof of their mouth called the Jacobson’s Organ. This scent receptor is not receptive to ordinary odors, nor does it communicate with the olfactory areas of the brain, according to Whole Dog Journal. Instead, it communicates with the part of the brain that coordinates mating and basic emotions.

4. The best smellers
According to dogtime.com, the 10 breeds with the best sense of smell are:

10. Pointer

9. German Shorthaired Pointer

8. Coonhound

7. English Springer Spaniel

6. Belgian Malinois

5. Labrador Retriever

4. German Shepherd

3. Beagle

2. Basset Hound

1. Bloodhound

5. A dog can smell who you are and how you feel
You can bathe as much a want and rub generous amounts of deodorant under your armpits, but to a dog you have a unique smell—and that’s all he needs to know to tell you from another person.

Furthermore, research indicates that dogs can likely smell fear, anxiety and even sadness. That’s because each of those emotions produces telltale chemicals that dogs can detect.

6. War on drugs and terrorism
You’ve probably seen security personnel handling dogs at airports. Those dogs aren’t racking up frequent flyer points. Instead, they’re using their amazing sense of smell to detect explosives or illegal drugs. 

7. Nose prints
Just like people have unique finger prints, each dog has a unique nose print. There are even companies that register nose prints as a way of helping to identify lost or stolen dogs.

Oh—one final fact!
Dogs love the scent of Born Free’s four premium dog food blends: Dakota Den (for puppies), Garrison’s Glen, Cutter’s Creek and Redwood Ranch! Buy some for your pooch and see for yourself.

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