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Dogs’ Amazing Sense of Smell

Have you ever wondered why your Central Indianapolis dog can sniff the same patch of grass over and over? It’s no secret that our canine friends have extremely astute sense of smell, but you could be quite amazed to find out just how sensitive those cute little noses are.

Getting a solid figure is difficult, as there are many variables, but scientists estimate that a dog’s sense of smell is between 1000 and 10,000,000 times more sensitive than that of a human. This will vary based on breed, and, to an extent, within individual dogs. Dogs have between 125 to 300 million scent glands. In comparison, we have a measly 5 million. Some studies suggest that dogs can smell particles in quantities as small as parts per million.

One thing we do know for certain is that dogs get most of their information about their surroundings through their noses. A large part of Fido’s brain is dedicated to detecting, identifying, and processing information about scents. Sniffing a spot where another dog has urinated can tell our canine friends an astounding amount of information, such as the sex of the other dog, what type of food the ‘scenter’ has eaten, if they have given birth recently, and even mood. Dogs also size humans up by scent. Our canine friends can learn a lot about us just by sniffing our hands. Some dogs can sniff out cancer, and even bedbugs. A dog who is panting from heat or exertion is not able to fully use their sense of smell, as they are using that airflow to cool themselves down.

Some dog breeds have a better sense of smell than others do. The Bloodhound is particularly renowned for having an excellent sense of smell. With Bloodhounds, their already-astute noses are aided by all those wrinkles, which help trap scent particles. Beagles are another breed with a super keen nose. They are often found ‘employed’ as sniffing dogs, rooting out drugs or other contraband. Beagles are also sometimes used for sniffing out bedbugs. Other breeds with a superior sense of smell include German Shepherds, Dachshunds, Basset Hounds, Redbone Coonhounds, Bluetick Coonhounds, and English Foxhounds. It’s no surprise that so many of these breeds are hounds, which are traditionally hunting dogs.

Ever wonder why dogs often have wet noses? That mucus helps them smell by capturing scent particles. Dog noses also have unique patterns, much like a human fingerprint. One thing we may see in the future is dog IDs based on ‘noseprints’.

Our canine friends are certainly amazing animals! Please contact us with any questions about caring for your Central Indianapolis dog.

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