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Your Dog and That Amazing Nose

golden lab sniffing

It’s no secret that your secretions are easily picked up by your pup’s nose and that they know when you need to re-apply deodorant long before you do. A dog’s sense of smell is thought to be ten thousand to a hundred thousand times stronger than a human’s, according to James Walker, who directed the Sensory Research Institute at Florida State University.

While we might smell bacon, a dog can smell all the specific spices used to cure the meat. No wonder they tend to drool. Here are some interesting facts about your dog and that amazing nose:

The larger the dog and the longer the muzzle, the better the sense of smell. Bloodhounds, who can weigh over one hundred pounds and have noses with 230 to 300 million olfactory cells, are typically thought to have the best sense of smell. Their noses are so good that if they get on a criminal’s trail, what they find can even be used in a court of law. One bloodhound, named Nick Carter, helped track down over 600 criminals in his illustrious law enforcement career.

dog snout

Dogs also use their keen sense of smell to get an emotional read on their owner. A scientific study found that dogs showed increased stress and higher heart rates when exposed to the sweat of human volunteers who had been watching scary videos. Now you know why your dog reacts like they do when it’s you, their loving owner, and not some random volunteer that’s scared!

Unsurprisingly, a dog’s favorite smell is that of a familiar human. If your dog is feeling anxious or jumpy, you can use an article of clothing that carries your scent to try and comfort them. Dogs have also been found to relax when exposed to small amounts of essential oils scented with ginger, coconut, and vanilla. Pay attention to what your dog lingers sniffing over on your walks and you can incorporate some of those smells as well.

Your dog’s nose is moist and cold for a reason. It was recently discovered that they can use not only to pick up scents, but to detect heat. The scientists who discovered this trait hypothesized that “dogs inherited the ability from their ancestor, the gray wolf, who may use it to sniff out warm bodies during a hunt.”

Dog sniffing the grass

Does your dog twitch in their sleep? Because scent is their strongest sense, some scientists believe that dogs dream mostly of smells.

Dogs are smart enough to connect scents with objects. It’s believed that dogs can picture the objects they are looking for when given only its scent.

In ideal weather, dogs have been reported to pick up scents twelve miles away. So next time you are trying to escape from a castle and the requisite hunting dogs who live there with your captor, think twice about slowing down after you cross the nearby river. They can probably pick up your scent on the other side, no matter if your stench washed downriver.

Dog sniffing purple flowers

Dogs have a nose for love. No, really. They have an organ us humans don’t even have, the vomeronasal organ, which, according to Peter Tyson of PBS, “picks up pheromones, the chemicals unique to each animal species that advertise mating readiness.” These pheromones are kept separate and are processed in another section of the brain than the odor molecules.

We hope you enjoyed these facts about your dog and that amazing nose of theirs. Now you’ll be ready the next time someone asks, “How good is it…really?”

Learn more about your pup in “9 Dog Facts That May Surprise You” and “6 Things Your Dog Wishes You Knew“.

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