A dog's sense of smell

Dog's rely on their sense of smell to interpret their world, in much the same way as people depend on their sight. A dog can interpret as much information with their nose as we can with our eyes.

Born to sniff

In order to gain more respect for your dog's olfactory ability, you need to compare it to a person's nose. The noses of both humans and dog's contain scent-detecting cells,  as well as nerves that transport information to the brain. In humans, the area containing these odor analyzers is about one square inch, or the size of a postage stamp. If you could unfold this area in a dog on the other hand, it may be as large as 60 square inches. Though the size of this surface varies with the size and length of the dog's nose, even flat-nosed breeds can detect smells far better than people. The following list shows the number of scent receptors in people and several dog breeds.
  • Humans = 5 million scent receptors
  • Dachshund = 125 million scent receptors
  • German Shepherd = 225 million scent receptors
  • Bloodhound = 300 million scent receptors
A dog's brain is also well adapted for identifying scents. The percentage of the dog's brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is actually 40 times larger than that of a human! It's been estimated that dogs can identify smells somewhere between 1,000 to 10,000 times better than humans.

Your dog's unique nose

If you look at the surface of your dog's nose closely, you will no doubt notice that the surface is covered in a pattern of ridges and dimples. When you combine this feature with the unique outline of your dog's  nostril openings, you get a nose print. A dog's nose print is believed to be as individual and unique as a human's fingerprints.

Walk and sniff

So please remember when out walking your dog just how important smells are to them.