It’s time for a mid-night snack. Let’s sneak into the kitchen and grab one, without waking up mum, more importantly, my dog, Tuffy. I guess, I should eat this two rooms away. (Lol, I’m always making plans to trick my d-o-g…) Mlem! Oh good Lord, Tuffy! You scared the bejesus out of me! How do you……. When did you…… Never mind! Here you go buddy! The snack’s all yours. Nom-nom-nom-nom! Can never beat that Crazy Dog Nose!
It makes me wonder, how in the heck does the aroma reach his nose before the food reaches my mouth? Huh! Somehow, this furry Sherlock Holmes sniffs his way to food, time and again. Let me tell you, he’s 12 and a very lazy dog. Yet, his 40x powerful nose, unearths every food smell.
Come here you little minion, let me get that spongy nose. (Boop! Boop!…..Achooooo!)
Adequately, dogs have an amazing sense of smell compared to humans. This incredible feature of a dog’s nose, is considered one of their greatest traits. Since the dawn of time, dogs’ noses have helped them survive. From being goofy butt-sniffers to serious-business Sniffer Dogs, dogs have used their noses to explore the unknown. Evolutionarily, dogs’ sense of smell helps them find a mate, a safe place for their offspring, food, and to avoid predators.
Typically, male dogs have a greater sense of smell than females or older dogs. Well, reasonable enough, if you look at a dog’s genealogy. It was the males who would track scents to find territories or mates, while females and older animals fostered the group.
A dog’s nose is truly a major power. Sniffing, to your dog is similar to you getting the latest news on the Internet. (Sniff! Sniff! Sniff! Oh! Duke is back from his vacation. Wait! What! He hooked up with Daisy. No way!)
So, what exactly about the canine nose makes it so special? Keep reading for more information on ‘Dog Nose Interesting Facts.’
1. 100,000-Watt Nose Power
That’s right! A dog’s nose can smell 100,000 times better than our nose. Significantly, three factors contribute to this: The 300 million olfactory receptors (smell units) on their nose, compared to our 5 million; the dog’s brain area 40 times bigger than ours that detects smell; the science of a dog’s nose separating air into ‘air for breathing’ and ‘air for sniffing’ via a small fold on the inside of each nostril.
2. The Swirled Nose-slits
Have you been so close to your pet dog so you can actually see two whooshing-wind swirls at the end of his nostrils? Go take a look. I’ll wait. (Grin) Tiny swirls, right! They may be small, but they’re vitally important. Humans exhale through their nose and send the air out the way it came in, forcing out any incoming odours. But, this is not the case in the exit strategy of a dog’s respiration. Dogs exhale the used air through the slits in the sides of their nose. The slits prevent scents from exiting with the air, and keeps them inside the nose instead. Furthermore, this swirling effect helps usher and sample new odours into the dog’s nose. More importantly, it allows the dog to sniff, almost, continuously.
Once a dog has been trained to single out a specific scent, they can find it regardless of other surrounding scents. Dog nose slits strengthen their sniffing ability and help them to distinguish 30,000-100,000 different types of smells (humans can only recognize 4,000-10,000 smells).
3. Don’t Wipe That Dog Nose
Have you noticed a wet glossy shine on your dog’s nose which makes it look like a plum dipped in sugar syrup? Also, this glossy nose gets shinier when your dog indulges in rigorous sniffing. Interestingly, a dog’s nose releases mucus. A wet nose helps a dog to capture tiny scent particles, which increases their ability to identify smells. Precisely, their nose is like a wet cloth which picks up dust, better than a dry one. A thin layer of mucus is sticks to the nostrils, improving the absorption of scent chemicals and enhancing the dog’s smelling potential. The special mucous glands inside the nostrils also produce clear, watery fluid. This fluid is known to assist in the cooling process through evaporation.
4. Groovy Groove
A dog’s Philtrum is an interesting structure, once discovered. To make it easy, it is the straight line dividing the nostrils of a dog. Specifically, it is a vertical groove between the base of the nose and the border of a dog’s upper lip. The Philtrum has a sensory purpose. Every time a dog licks his lips, a bit of saliva stays in this groove and is drawn upwards due to capillary action. This keeps the dog’s nose moist, if not wet, which enables the dog to capture scents.
5. Dr. Dog
Dogs can smell things that seem incomprehensible to us. They can detect some odours in parts per trillion. Perhaps, for this accuracy, dogs are being used to detect various life-threatening medical issues, like- Breast Cancer, Lung Cancer, Skin Cancer, brain disorders like Narcolepsy, changes in body chemistry that indicate oncoming Seizures & Migraine attacks, etc. Dogs are trained to detect these using samples of blood, sweat (body scents), breath and urine from healthy and sick people. A 2019 study published in Experimental Biology found the most startling statistics: Dogs can correctly pick out blood samples from people who have cancer with 97% accuracy.
Currently, teams of scientists and researchers around the world are training sniffer dogs to detect COVID-19 in humans. In fact, Finland’s Helsinki-Vantaa airport is already deploying dogs, including Kössi, a rescue dog from Spain, for their new job in a pilot project running alongside more usual testing at the airport.
6. 3-D Smell
Smell is a dog’s most leading sense and the one that is the most different from ours. Dogs can smell separately with each nostril. This function is pretty similar to the function of our eyes; just as our eyes compile two slightly different views of the world, and our brain combines them to form a 3-D picture, likewise, a dog’s brain uses the different odour profiles from each nostril to identify the exact location of multiple objects.
7. The Secret Organ
Besides having a powerful nose, dogs are resourced with a special organ known as the vomer nasal organ or the Jacobson organ. This organ acts as a second nose. Basically, it empowers a dog’s sniffing ability. It is located in the nasal cavity just above the roof of the mouth. Additionally, it detects chemical signals, behaviour-altering agents, called Pheromones. These are released by dogs, to be detected by other dogs.
8. Puppy Noses
Mr. Yngve Zotterman, of the Swedish Research Council, discovered that new-born puppies are equipped with special heat sensors which are strategically located just around the slits at the side of their noses. These heat sensors help puppies locate energy that’s radiated from warm objects so they can easily find their mom and litter mates. How fascinating is that?
9. Freeze! Right there!
One of the most amazing facts about a dog’s nose is that, it reveals to him who has been there, how long ago, and which way they went. A dog’s nose can be employed in different sniffing methods. What’s fascinating is that, dogs can detect the volatile concentrations of odor that occur over brief periods of time. This allows tracking dogs (especially highly-trained Police Dogs) to quickly determine, which direction a person or animal has gone in, by sniffing the ground. What’s more, once they learn a smell, they remember it for a very long time.
10. Can you do this?
Dogs are capable of moving their nostrils independently, one at a time. According to a study, dogs tend to use first their right nostril for smelling things considered non-threatening (and then right afterward switch to using their left nostril), while they exclusively use the right nostril when sniffing things associated with threat.
11. Finest Dog Nose
While all dogs have a super sense of smell, some breeds have a better sense of smell than the others. Hounds, Herding Dogs, Hunting Dogs & Sporting Dog breeds have the best sense of smell. Bloodhounds, Basset hounds, Coonhounds and Beagles top the list. Additionally, working dogs, like German Shepherds and Labradors also feature prominently in their smelling abilities. On the other hand, some short-nosed dogs, like Pugs (also known as brachycephalic dogs), may have some drawbacks in their air passage, that could affect their sense of smell. [Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome (BAOS)]
12. The Dry Nose Myth
A dog’s dry nose may mean he is sick, but not necessarily. There are chances it may be dry because of dehydration or possibly because he is not licking his nose as much as he typically does. If your dog’s nose is dry, but otherwise, he is active, and eating and drinking normally, then there is no need to worry. But, if your dog looks lethargic in any way and his nose looks dry or crusty, then certainly be concerned to contact a vet without delay.
A dog’s sense of smell picks up all sorts of invisible things. Let’s zoom into a more microscopic level. We shed millions of skin cells every minute, in the form of skin flakes. Even right now, while I sit and move my fingers on the keyboard, it’s happening. “I ain’t no DeeDee, but I have a Dexter whose nose can view all this action and that too in slow-mo.” breathtakingly, these sheds are visible to a dog’s nose. Even those teeny-weeny microbes responsible for shedding, are clearly detectable to a dog’s nose.
Hail the mighty Nose of Eternity!