Five Incredible Facts about Your Dog’s Sense of Smell

Dogs possess an incredible sense of smell. It is the reason that we continue to use dogs for hunting, for finding contraband, and other roles that are reliant on that particular sense. However, it can be difficult for interested individuals to get an accurate impression of just how good dogs can smell using nothing but dry numbers, which is why dog facts can be both very educational and very entertaining. Here are five of the most impressive facts about the dog’s sense of smell:

1. Dogs Can Recognize Us Based On Our Individual Scents

Each human has their own unique smell. This isn’t a matter of cleanliness because no matter how clean we are, our sweat glands and our sebaceous glands will continue to produce substances that contribute to our unique smell. Human noses aren’t sensitive enough to pick up on these unique smells, but human noses pale in comparison to canine noses, which are perfectly capable of distinguishing between people based on their particular scents. With that said, some places are better than others for dogs to get this kind of information, which is why dog owners might have noticed their dogs sniffing at the mouths, armpits, groins, and shoes of strangers.

2. Dogs Can Use Their Sense of Smell to Tell the Time

Remarkably, dogs are capable of using their sense of smell to tell the time. In short, what happens is that the passage of time causes changes in a wide range of factors. As a result, while a human might realize that the day is coming into a close because the sun is sinking into the west, a dog can come to the same conclusion by picking up on the differences in the changing smells that are prevalent in their surroundings. On the whole, it is an interesting example of how different species can reach similar conclusions through very different paths because of their very different capabilities.

3. Dogs Can Smell Certain Emotions

Dogs can pick up on people’s emotions by smelling the consequences that those emotions have on their bodies. For example, when someone is either angry or afraid, that will cause adrenaline to be released. Something that dogs will be able to pick up on because they can literally smell the chemical. As a result, while people who are feeling either angry or afraid might be able to conceal that fact from other people by maintaining a different facial expression, that won’t be enough to fool a dog.

4. Dogs Can Smell Cancer

Speaking of which, there are a lot of medical conditions that can cause notable changes in people’s bodies, meaning that it is possible for dogs to pick up the existence of these medical conditions even though said individuals might not be suffering any noticeable symptoms. The best-known example is cancer, which is something that dogs have been known to notice well in advance of the symptoms, thus enabling their dog owners to get life-saving treatment sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, dogs can’t be used as a cancer detection system. In part, this is because dogs’ noses aren’t perfectly reliable all of the time, meaning that there is a consistency issue. However, it should also be noted that sniffing samples for signs of cancer isn’t the most engaging of activities, which is one more minus for that idea. With that said, it should be mentioned that dogs are still contributing to the fight against cancer, seeing as how scientists have been using dogs to figure out the compound that they are smelling in hopes of coming up with better cancer screening tests.

5. The Length of the Nose Matters

Most people will be familiar with the fact that some dog breeds are better than others at picking up on scents. One of the factors that determine this is the length of the dog’s nose because a longer nose means more room to pack with smell receptors. Another is the droopiness of the ears on some dog breeds, which serve to pick up the scent from the ground for convenient access by the nose. As a result, it isn’t a coincidence that some hunting breeds such as the Basset Hound have droopy ears that touch the ground.


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