It’s one of the cutest things when your dog nudges you with his nose, and you’ve probably booped your pup’s muzzle more times than you can count. But there’s much more to a dog’s nose than you think, and it’s not used just for smelling! Here are ten things you may have never known about dog noses, so you can better understand your best friend.
1. Dog noses are wet for a reason.
If you’ve ever wondered why your dog’s nose is usually wet, it’s due to glands inside that produce lubrication. This moisture helps to capture scents and hold onto them, just like glue!
2. Dogs have superhero smelling powers.
If you thought your ability to smell tacos from a mile away was unparalleled, get ready to be wowed. Dogs can smell 10,000 to 100,000 times better than the average human! Alexandra Horowitz, a “dog-cognition” researcher at Barnard College, shared this interesting example: If we are able to detect a teaspoon of sugar in our morning coffee, a dog is able to detect that same teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water.
3. Dogs have multi-functional nostrils.
When we inhale and exhale through our noses, air travels through the same passageway. When it comes to dogs, their nostrils can work independently from each other. A fold of tissue just inside their nostrils separates the odor into two different paths—one for olfaction, which breaks down the odor to tell the dog every single detail about that scent, and one respiratory, for breathing.
4. Dogs don’t exhale through their nostrils.
If you peer closely at your dog’s nose, you’ll see that there are slits on either side. That’s where the air comes out whenever your dog exhales!
5. Dogs learn a lot through pee-sniffing.
When you’re taking a walk with your pup and he’s taking forever to sniff out different spots, let him take his time! Dogs leave each other messages through their urine, and your dog can find out the latest news by investigating it. We’re sure he’ll also have his own opinion on a thing or two to leave behind.
6. Dogs can actually smell your fear.
In humans, fear and nervousness are accommodated by changes in heart rate and and blood flow that push chemicals to the skin’s surface. Through these chemicals, dogs can literally smell your different emotions, so don’t even attempt to fake even a smile with your furry friends.
7. Dogs notice all the skin that we shed daily.
Don’t be grossed out, but humans actually shed 50 million skin cells every minute. Though we can’t physically see these microscopic “snowflakes” coming from our bodies, dogs are able to smell every single one. That’s why they have such a knack for tracking down people who go missing during disasters and such.
8. You can identify dogs by their nose prints.
Humans have fingerprints; dogs have nose prints. Every pup’s is unique, and it’s commonly used as a way to identify pups. Dog trainers and breeders who want to be bonded and insured are now required to record nose prints.
9. A dry nose doesn’t mean that your dog is sick.
A common myth among dog owners is that a dry nose means illness. This isn’t always true, and it’s normal for dogs’ noses to fluctuate between wet and dry. What you should look out for is any discoloration, non-clear discharge, or cracks and flakiness.
10. Dogs sniff to get to know each other.
The nose is the best tool a dog has to get an idea of who his new friends are. All that butt sniffing that you’ve witnessed among pooches is normal, and you should encourage your dog to investigate his heart away. Think of a dog’s scent down there as his online dating profile; smell will tell other pups all about him, even the food he may have had that day!