Pet Care

The Better Strength of Dog Nose

Terry M. Cervantes 

We all know that dogs have a good sense of smell, but do you know how good? Read on to find out how your dog’s nose works and why it is so important for him to sniff everything well.

How does a dog’s nose work

If you’ve ever tried to eat a sneaky snack at night without your dog noticing, you probably know exactly how strong a dog’s nose is. Comparing a dog’s sense of smell to that of a cat can be a fair competition, but when you compare a dog’s sense of smell to that of a human, there is absolutely no competition! Here are some statistics to break it down:

  • Depending on the breed, dogs can have up to 300 million olfactory receptors in the nose to identify odors, compared to 6 million in humans.
  • The proportion of the brain devoted to the processing of odors is 40 times greater in dogs than in humans.
  • A dog’s sense of smell is between 10,000 and 100,000 times stronger than that of a human.

James Walker, former director of the Sensory Research Institute at Florida State University, said: “If you make the Analogy of seeing what you and I can see at a third of an hour, a dog could see more than 3,000 miles away and still see as well.”

A dog’s nose has unique characteristics that help to increase its performance even more. Outside, a dog’s nose is designed to inhale perfumes as efficiently as possible. The moist nose of a healthy dog helps the perfume particles to adhere to your Schnoz, which is why dogs lick their noses to keep it well moist. Your nostrils can also move and function independently, which helps you quickly determine where the odors are coming from.

The shape of a dog’s nose is extraordinary and unique — when he exhales, the air actually leaves his nose through the slits on the side of the nostrils, helping to channel fresh air to the center of the nose for sniffing. This air flow helps dogs to sniff almost continuously, according to a study by the University of Oslo in Norway, in which a hunting dog sniffed a continuous air flow for 40 seconds in search of odors.

Inside, a dog’s nasal passages are more advanced than ours. While we use the same pathway for smell and breathing, a dog’s nose immediately divides the air flow into two distinct pathways: one for its respiratory system and one that leads directly to its olfactory receptors.

Dogs also have a second olfactory system that humans lack. A special organ known as the vomeronasal organ or Jacobson’s organ is located in your nasal cavity and opens into the roof of your mouth. This body is specialized in the recognition and identification of animal pheromones. Humans have vomeronasal organs atrophied during our embryonic development, but as matures, unfortunately, we are completely unable to distinguish the owner of the secret Piss left on a fire hydrant by smell.

How dogs use their sense of smell

Why do dogs have such a strong sense of smell? Our canine companions use this super sense in different ways. In the wild, the ancestors of dogs used perfumes to track down and hunt their prey and keep an eye on their potential partners as well as strangers on their territory.

When it comes to domestic dogs, a dog’s sense of smell can be useful to humans in many different professions. Odorous dog breeds target odors and follow them over long distances, whether hunting for wildlife or finding people lost in the wild. (Side note: A dog’s sense of smell from a distance also helps your relationship with your dog! Dogs can sense their owners from a distance of 11 miles, which makes it easier for them to always return home.)

Regardless of the breed, all dogs can perceive a variety of smells. Some dogs are trained to track down weapons and illegal substances, whether in an airport or a minefield. Medical sniffer dogs can use their powerful noses to detect a variety of human health problems, from cancer to coronavirus, making them literal rescuers.

But what about your dog? You may not make medical diagnoses, but your nose is an integral part of your daily life.

Every walk is a Chance to breathe in your environment, which is essential for your enrichment and your mental health. A 2019 study published in the Applied Animal Behavior Science Journal shows that nose work helps to increase the optimism and general well-being of dogs. So, the next time you go for a walk with your pooch, take it easy and ask them to sniff every lamppost and dog BONE they can find-they might just have a little more spring in their crotch after that.

Another added benefit is the way your sense of smell contributes to your connection with them. Dogs memorize the smell of people they like and can recognize them only by smell, even if they haven’t seen each other for years. These pheromone recognition skills that you use on other dogs also affect you, which means that your dog can easily recognize when you are anxious by detecting a burst of the adrenaline hormone that you release when you are stressed. (This way your dog always knows when you especially need a good hug.)

We already knew that our dogs were fantastic, but understanding the facts about a dog’s sense of smell makes them even more awesome in our books. Take out the treats and hide a few for your resident scented dog to find so you can see how awesome their nose is!

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Terry M. Cervantes 

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