A Dog’s sense of smell

Dogs have an amazing sense of smell and this TED-Ed video below is great at explaining what, how and why dogs can smell so well.

Some facts about a dog’s sense of smell

A dog has about 300 million olfactory receptors in its nose that are used to detect scents and odours, compared to the 6 million that we have.

The part of their brain that is used to process all the information their nose picks up is about 40 times bigger as a proportion of their brain when compared to ours, giving us some indication of the importance that smell plays in the life of your dog.

dogs-nose-closeWhile it is obvious that dogs have a much better sense of smell than we do, estimates vary on how much better it actually is with ranges between 1000 and 1 million times better!

Every human being and dog for that matter has their own unique set of smells and odours that we have trouble detecting with our sense of smell but to our dogs, they can read it just as good as looking at a face or how a scanner can read a barcode.

Some breeds are better at putting their sense of smell to good use than others, The Bloodhound is a well recognised example, but other breeds such a Beagles and Beagliers are very good also.

We shed literally millions of skin cells each day and although we cannot see these microscopic cells (and neither can our dogs see them), our dogs can smell all the information they contain on an continual basis as though they are receiving up to the second information about us.

As amazing and crazy at it sounds, dogs can detect smells through the passage of time. They can pick up on when the smell was created and how it has degraded over the course of time. Unlike ourselves who can only smell a scent at the time it hits our nose.

Dogs smell things in 3D. Dogs have the amazing ability to smell through each nostril independently so they get a 3D picture of the smells around them. This allows them to better and more quickly determine the direction that a smell is coming from and even evaluate multiple sources of an odour to tell which source is stronger, fading or getting stronger.

sniffer dogDogs can smell emotion, well not really, but they can smell the chemical signals that your body releases when you are experiencing different emotions such as fear, joy, anxiety, sadness etc. Combined with their great ability to read body language, they make the greatest lie detectors in the world! You can’t fool your dog into thinking that all is well with you by putting on a brave face or a smile. They know that something is wrong and will often try to make you feel better with affection or by distraction.

New research is being undertaken by a number of major universities into the power of a dog’s sense of smell since the discovery that dogs are one the most reliable ways to detect very tiny concentrations of chemicals that can save human lives in the fields of cancer detection and explosive detection.

We are constantly learning more and more about our canine best friends and their amazing abilities.

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