It is no secret that dogs have a great sense of smell. Many have even made a job out of it, tracking down lost people or scenting out drugs and contraband. Yet although we rely on dogs for scent work, many people do not understand exactly how much their dog is smelling.
Understanding Sense of Smell in Dogs
Keep in mind that all healthy dogs have an intense sense of smell. While bloodhounds and certain other breeds may have a slightly stronger nose, the following are true for dogs of every breed:
- Dogs Have 100 Million Olfactory Receptors - Some dogs have up to 300 million. In comparison, you have about 6 million. Additionally, the portion of the brain that processes smells is 40 times larger in dogs than people.
- A Dog’s Nose Works Differently - When a dog inhales, a flap of skin separates the air for respiration from the air for scents. They also exhale through the slits at the side of their nose rather than their nostrils, so they avoid pushing scents back out.
- Dogs Can Detect Almost Imperceptible Odors - Dog’s noses are sensitive enough to pick up a smell in parts per million, meaning the odor is nearly untraceable. To put it another way, while you might be able to smell a rotten apple on your countertop, a dog could find a single rotten apple in 2 million barrels of good apples.
- Dogs Interpret the World Through Smell - A dog losing his sense of smell is comparable to you wearing a blindfold. Sense is your dog’s primary sense. Without it, they miss crucial information about the world around them.
- Your Dog Can Smell Time - With such a sensitive nose, dogs can use scent to tell time. Smells change from hour to hour throughout the day, and your dog will soon associate the smell of 5pm with the time you come home from work.
Knowing how powerful your dog’s sense of smell is can help you understand how he navigates the world around him. It also emphasizes how important it is to give your dog plenty to smell. Time to sniff on walks provides thousands of new smells to stimulate your dog’s brain, and a chance to smell people before being pet can make your dog feel more comfortable.