Fun Facts About Dog’s Sense of Smell

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Dogs have a really powerful sense of smell. Many dogs even work smelling and finding things to help the police. Dog detectives! No kidding.

In this post, I’ll share fun facts about a dog’s sense of smell and their spectacular noses.

Are you ready to get nosey?

By Mila Bander.

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Dogs Can Smell Your Happiness, Anxiety… And Also Fear

Many dog owners affirm that their dogs understand when they’re sad. And it’s all true.

Dogs can smell human’s emotional state, and not only that: they can adopt the emotions of their owner too.

Biagio D’Aniello, associate professor of zoology of the University of Naples ‘Federico II’ in Italy, tested along with his colleagues how great dog’s ability to sniff human emotions is.

Human volunteers watched videos designed to cause different feelings, such as happiness, fear or neutral, and then samples of their swear were collected.

The researchers let domestic dogs smell these samples, and then observed and monitored the dog’s behaviors and heart rates.

The surprising thing is that the dogs exposed to the smells of fear showed more signs of stress than the other ones.

Dogs exposed to the smell of fear also had higher heart rates and seeked more reassurance from their owners.

Which proves how powerful their sense of smell is, how empathetic they are and how loyal they are to their owners.

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Dog’s Sense of Smell is 10,000+ Times More Powerful Than Humans

Dogs don’t just smell things a little better than humans.

Dog’s noses are 10,000 to 100,000 times more powerful than human noses!

That’s an enormous difference.

Dog’s noses have up to 300 million olfactory receptors while humans possess around 6 million.

If that wasn’t enough, the region of the canine brain dedicated to odor analysis is almost 40 times bigger than the human brain’s counterpart.

Dogs Can Smell Diseases and Health Issues

Turns out, dogs would be great doctors if they could talk.

Numerous studies show that dogs can smell even subtle changes in a person’s body chemistry right before a seizure occurs.

Dogs have also detected different types of cancer (including lung, breast, ovarian, cervical, bladder and prostate cancers) and also changes in sugar levels in diabetic individuals.

Dogs Know Which Direction Someone Went

Dogs can smell tiny changes in odor molecule concentrations that happen over short periods of time.

By sniffing the ground, tracking dogs may accurately detect which direction a person or animal has gone.

Dogs Understand the World Through Their Noses

Humans understand the world primarily through observation and just looking at things.

We look at a park and we understand where things are and what these things are.

As you may or may not know, dogs don’t see as many colors as humans see, but they can smell way more scents than humans can.

Dogs can identify and discern scents and smells we don’t even dream about being able to notice, and this is the tool they use to understand the world and learn more about it.

Dogs can pick up A LOT of information from just smelling something, someone and also other dogs.

They can smell how healthy someone is, their age, their gender, hormones, their diet, their feelings, where they are in a certain area, and so much more.

This is why it’s important to allow your dogs to smell things when you take them for a walk. It’s how they learn and understand the world.

Dogs Can Track Missing People and Contraband

Dogs are capable of discerning scents that we can’t even detect.

This is why dogs are used to track missing people and alert authorities of contraband.

Bloodhounds are often used for this purpose since their long floppy ears actually help fan scents closer to their noses, thus making them experts at tracking various scents.

Some beagles have a job in the Beagle Brigade, finding approximately 75,000 banned agricultural items every year.

Dog’s Sense of Smell Is Reduced When Panting

When a dog is exhausted, overheated or thirsty after playing a lot or running, they might pant. This is usually normal behavior.

Panting allows dog to inhale, humidify and exhale the air, increasing the evaporation of water from the dog’s nose and lungs.

But while dogs are panting, their sense of smell is reduced by roughly 40%.

But of course, their noses are still thousands of times more powerful than ours, so that’s ok.

Dogs Smell by Tasting Too

Dog noses are humid because there is a layer of mucus used to capture scents. When a dog licks their nose, they are tasting scents captured from the air.

They also lick their noses to hone their sense of smell.

Some Dogs Can Smell Even Better Than Others

Dogs in general have super powerful noses, but some breeds have an even more powerful sense of smell and ability to smell than others.

Basset Hounds, Bloodhounds and Beagles for example, are not only cute & smart; their noses are unbelievable!

They are scent hounds.

Which means they are simply great at following scents and aromas mainly from the ground.

Scent Hounds Have Super Powerful Noses

Scent hounds don’t need to be as quick as sighthounds because they don’t have to keep prey in sight; they need stamina to stick with a scent and track it through rugged terrain for extended distances.

These dogs have such a powerful sense of smell that even across running water and after several days, the best scent hounds can still follow a scent trail.

Just to give you an idea, beagles have roughly 220 million scent receptors and bloodhounds have 300 million, compared to 5 million or so in humans.

Some Dogs Have Special Characteristics that Help Their Noses Capture Scents

The ears on the majority of the scent hounds are long and droopy.

This characteristic aids in the collection of scent from the air near and the retention of the scent in the dog’s face and nose.

Scent hounds also usually have big nasal cavities, which helps them smell better.

Even their moist lips have the goal of capturing particles of scents.

A Bloodhound’s Sense of Smell is So Powerful They Help in Court

It’s common to see bloodhounds being hired for scent tracking jobs such as locating missing people and searching for criminals.

The bloodhound’s sense of smell is so powerful, they can follow 300 hours old scent tracks and stay on a scent trail for roughly 130 miles.

Their sense of smell is so reliable, it can and it has been used as evidence in a court of law.

Photo by Joey.