HappyDog Journal

Educational Platform for Dog Happiness and Their Guardians

Super Nose: Incredible Canine Sense of Smell!

Dogs possess the same five sensory organs as humans - sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. However, while we primarily rely on our eyes and ears for orientation, for dogs, the dominant sense organ is their nose. According to some studies, a dog's sense of smell surpasses ours by several thousand times!
Обоняние собаки - настоящая супер-способность!

Table of contents

How Dogs “See” the World with Their Nose

Through scent, a dog can easily find food and determine its suitability, predict weather changes, detect other animals, and locate humans even through an old, buried trail and over long distances.

Canine sense of smell and marking behavior are vital aspects of dogs communication. By sniffing markings, a dog navigates the terrain and assesses the status of a conspecific – whether it is a female or male, young or old, sick or healthy, familiar or unfamiliar, and whether it is ready for reproduction. It is astonishing that dogs can discern not only the physical but also the emotional state of other animals and humans through scent!

Interesting Facts about Canine Sense of Smell.
Did you know?

  • Dogs have approximately 1,300 genes responsible for their sense of smell, which is 30% more than humans.
  • Humans have between 5 to 40 million olfactory receptors, while dogs have anywhere from 200 million to a billion.
  • The surface area of the olfactory mucosa in humans is about 10 cm2, whereas in dogs, it exceeds 200 cm2.
  • The olfactory epithelium in dogs is approximately 15 times thicker than in humans.
  • The portion of a dog’s brain dedicated to processing smells is relatively larger compared to other parts of the brain, about 40 times larger than in humans.
  • While humans can distinguish up to 4,000 different smells, dogs can detect up to a million!
  • Dogs can work each nostril independently – when a dog is positioned at a right angle to a trail, it can determine the direction a person went in just five steps!
  • These fascinating facts highlight the incredible capabilities of a dog’s sense of smell and demonstrate why they are unparalleled in their olfactory prowess.

The Canine Nose Aids Humans

For thousands of years, humans have relied on the keen sense of smell of dogs for hunting and tracking prey. Even today, the remarkable abilities of a dog’s nose continue to assist humans.

Search and rescue dogs provide invaluable assistance in locating missing individuals and searching for those affected by disasters. They work in extremely challenging conditions where human skills and technological capabilities are insufficient, and time is of the essence.

Search and customs service dogs assist in the search and apprehension of criminals, detection of weapons, narcotics, and explosives. The unique olfactory abilities of dogs are utilized in odorological examinations in forensic science.

Dogs can diagnose cancer, alert to heart attacks and epileptic seizures, and detect changes in blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes. Quite recently, during the pandemic, specialists from France trained dogs to detect infection with the Covid-19 virus.

Sniffing and Using Their Nose – an Important Need for Dogs

For any dog, whether it’s a working dog or not, utilizing their sense of smell is incredibly important. Please, do not prohibit your dog from exploring the world with their nose! When they sniff bushes, the ground, sticks, other dogs, and people during walks, it is completely natural behavior.

Labrador on a walk is sniffing

Furthermore, simple search games such as finding treats or toys can greatly enhance our dogs’ lives. Engaging their sense of smell provides the mental stimulation they need and helps reduce stress. It allows dogs to express their natural behaviors and feel happy! Moreover, the opportunity to make independent decisions during such games fosters initiative and self-confidence.

By encouraging our dogs to follow their noses and engage in olfactory activities, we are fulfilling an essential aspect of their nature and contributing to their overall well-being. Embracing their need to use their sense of smell is not only beneficial for their mental and emotional state but also promotes a harmonious and fulfilling bond between us and our canine companions.

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Специалист по поведению собак Татьяна Рикман
Dog Behavior Specialist

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