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Why Do Dog's Smell EVERYTHING?

Why Do Dog's Smell EVERYTHING?

Dogs smell everything and everything smells interesting. Some people call taking their dog for a walk “scent therapy” as it is proven that dogs need to smell things to fulfill their curiosity and mental stimulation. 

Dogs noses are far more powerful than ours. Humans have only 5–6 million scent receptors in their noses. Depending on the breed, dogs have up 100 million or more scent receptors in their noses. Bloodhounds have 300 million!

With all these scent signals traveling from the nose, it’s no wonder dogs’ brains have a larger olfactory cortex than humans. Just like with humans, different sections of a dogs’ brains specialize in different things. The smelling section of a dog brain is 40 times larger than ours. In fact, one-eighth of a dog’s brain is dedicated to interpreting odor. That’s even bigger than the section of our brain dedicated to interpreting sight.

Why Their Sense of Smell is so Acute

Dogs have super-sensitive noses that they use to sniff out food, people and dogs and did we mention food...again.  Dogs can detect odors even when they're very faint or buried in other smells—which makes sense if you ever watched how your dog smells during walks.

There are special receptors in your dog's nose ( vomeronasal organs) that respond specifically to pheromones—chemical signals produced by other animals (including humans). These receptors allow dogs to tell who belongs to them and who doesn't.

Dogs Use Their Nose to Interpret the World Around Them

The sense of smell is so important to dogs because they use it to communicate with each other and interpret their world. Scents tell them what's going on around them—whether it's safe or dangerous—and help guide them through life. For example, many times when you take your dog outside it will sniff around a bit before doing its business; this allows your dog to read the surroundings , see who else has been there, it is like each scent is carrying a different code to your dog’s brain to decipher.

Emotion Can Be Detected as Pheromones

According to research, dogs can not only smell emotions, but the way we are feeling can rub off on them too. In other words, when they smell our emotions it can make them feel the same way as well. We know that dogs have extremely sensitive noses and an excellent sense of smell. They are used in many industries as a result of this heightened sense and they are even able to use their sense of smell to pick up on illnesses and medical conditions. Their ability to smell our emotions means that they will often feel a certain way simply because of the emotion they sense from their owners.  So if you are uneasy, your dog can become anxious and uneasy as well.  The same goes for joy and happiness.

Dogs Appreciate Smelly Things

According to Scent scientists dogs have a few reasons why they like smelly things.

Mainly your dog's love of stinky things has to do with survival. By rolling around in dead stuff for example, dogs mask their own scent. Covering themselves with the aroma of decay can create a confusing sensory event for predators, throwing them off the trail so to speak, and it can also keep prey from noticing they are roving about the area.

Dogs Can Detect Illness

Dogs can smell the difference between healthy patients and cancer patients 91% of the time.  In a recent study, researchers had 12 dogs smell samples from 60 different people who were either healthy or had lung cancer. After each dog smelled all those samples, they were then shown two more sets of 2 samples: one from someone with lung cancer and one from someone without lung cancer.

The results? The dogs only got it wrong 9 times out of 90 tries! This is an incredible rate for something that seems like it would be nearly impossible for them to detect simply by smelling.

Dogs Use Their Noses to Make Decisions

A new study has revealed that dogs might actually be able to ‘see’, as well as smell, with their highly-sensitive noses.

A team of vets, including Dr Philippa Johnson from Cornell University in New York, conducted a number of MRI brain scans on a range of different dogs. They discovered that the pathways in a dog’s brain may be linked in an entirely different way to any other species.

The findings of the study appear to suggest that a dog’s smell and vision are connected in a way which implies that they may use scent to work out where things are. Which can explain how blind dogs can play catch.  Pip Johnson, assistant professor of clinical sciences at the College of Veterinary Medicine, says, “we've never seen this connection between the nose and the occipital lobe, functionally the visual cortex in dogs, in any species."

When humans first enter a room, we use our vision to work out where everything is but dogs are believed to be using the part of their brain that deals with smell to interpret their environment and how they are orientated within it.


When we limit our dog’s sniffing options, their daily welfare and enjoyment of the world suffers.   Smelling things affects your dog’s socialization, behavior, and training as well as their happiness and well-being.  By smelling things your dog relaxes, stimulates their brain, and learns more about the world around them. 

Now grab your leash and take your dog out for some smell therapy.


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