Whenever you take your pup out for a walk on his dog harness or dog collar, does he run up to any dog every dog he meets and sniff their butts? Does your pooch drop his rope and tug toy that he was so intently playing with at the dog park when another pooch passes by to sniff his bottom? When you go to the pet store to pick up dog food, some puppy toys, a dental chew or two, or dog treats, does your furry friend take a whiff of every other dog that passes by? If so, you might feel a little embarrassed or even think that it’s just gross; but rest assured that it’s totally normal.
Butt Sniffing: What Gives?
Butt sniffing is one of very first things that dogs do when they meet each other; it’s kind of like how humans shake hands with someone they meet! It might seem odd or downright disgusting, but it’s what dogs do! Why? It all has to do with their sense of smell.
The canine olfactory system is quite remarkable. It’s incredibly powerful; far more advanced than a human’s sense of smell. To put a dog’s sense of smell into perspective, consider this: the average person has an estimated 5 million receptors in their noses, while canines have upwards of 220 million! With so many receptors in their noses, it’s no wonder why dogs have such a powerful sense of smell. It’s so powerful, in fact, that they can smell a single piece of dry dog food or the most minute morsel of a dog treat from great distances (no wonder why dog training treats are such effective tools for teaching a pooch new trick!)
It’s because of that powerful sense of smell that canines can be taught to sniff out illegal substances, blood, explosives, and even missing people! It’s also because of that sense of smell that canines smell one another’s rear ends.
Reasons for Butt Sniffing
So, why does your furry friend use his incredibly powerful sense of smell to sniff other dogs’ butts? They do it to obtain information. Canines are naturally curious about other canines, and believe it or not, they can obtain a lot of details about another dog based on the smell that comes from their behinds. Each animal has their own scent, and that scent is particularly strong around the anus and the genitals. There are two small sacs located on either side of every canine’s anus, and these anal sacs contain and excrete a highly potent fluid. The scent that these glands produce can reveal a lot of information; they can distinguish the gender of other dogs, tell whether or not they are pregnant or if they have been spayed or neutered, whether or not they are ill, their disposition… and much, much more! Plus, canines have the ability to retain all of these scents and can use that information to tell if they have met another dog before.
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Image Source: MentalFloss.com