Your dog doesn’t need GOOGLE to learn everything he needs to know! He can stand in the backyard, take one big sniff and know that your neighbor burned the burgers on the grill (again), that the neighbor down the road’s kid hid half a pizza under his bed and that your mother-in-law is a little bit afraid of him AND that she just turned down your road for a surprise visit.
You may think he just uses his nose for finding a Cheeto under the sofa or for sniffing other dog butts at the dog park. That is just a tiny glimpse into how powerful your dog’s Superpower is.
Of course, many dogs were bred specifically for their sniffing abilities; the Bloodhound, Basset Hound, Beagle, Coonhounds, Dachshund, Foxhounds and the Rhodesian Ridgeback, to name a few. But every single dog has sniffing abilities that blow our puny noses away (pun intended).
• Your dog’s sense of smell is their #1 method of gathering info
• Your dog’s olfactory brain hub is 40x larger than yours (hear them gloating?)
• Your dog’s sense of smell is 1000–10,000x more sensitive than yours (more gloating)
• Dogs have 125,000,000–300,000,000 scent glands (varies by breed) compared to our measly 5,000,000 (gloating continues)
• Dogs can detect smells in parts per trillion, for example they could detect one rotten apple in two million barrels (which is about 752,000,000 apples)
• Inside your nose, and your dog’s, there are tough, curvy plates, called turbinates, that air blows over. Inside this tough stuff is a thick, spongy membrane that holds scent-detecting cells and nerves that zap smelly info to the brain
• The complex turbinates in dog noses helped them adapt to a vast range of climates, from harsh cold to hot and arid, due to heightened thermoregulatory capabilities and moisture conservation
• These canine uber-turbinates also cool the small arteries and veins on their maxilloturbinate (the mini-turbinates on maxilla bone) surfaces, which in real people talk means they can run fast and far (note: most cats don’t have this type of nose power, hence the fast pounce style of attack they use)
• Our human odor analyzing “real estate” is about one square inch, while your dog has about 60 square inches of odor detecting mojo
• The mucus on a dog’s nose helps capture scent particles
• Dogs lick their dry noses to recover this scent capturing mojo
• Dogs store smells in a special olfactory chamber in their nose until they can identify the scent completely – smell bookmarking
• Dogs can wiggle their nostrils separately, we can’t
• Did you know your dog has energy centers or chakras in their nose?
All mammals have turbinates, which are bony, curly scroll-shaped plates, that air flows over in the breathing process. This consists of a thick, spongy membrane that houses most of the scent-detecting cells and the partner nerves that send info to the brain. As mentioned in the list above, the odor analyzer is about one square inch in people and 60 square inches in dogs! Think postage stamp compared to piece of paper.
When a dog inhales the air is diverted into two sections of their nose – one path is for respiration (the regular breathing) and other goes to the olfactory or smelling area. They are literally built to have a better sense of smell.
Here’s evidence from a Scientific Journal in England, so it is very academic AND when you read this next passage imagine it read to you in Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice or Ian McKellan’s.
Unfortunately there’s no way for a mere human to get inside this highly detailed world. Even if we get down on the ground and sniff, we cannot do it like a dog. When we sniff we are sporadically blind to scent as we breathe in and out through the same holes. A 2009 study of the fluid dynamics of the dog’s sniff showed that their system is far more complex. Each nostril is smaller than the distance between the two, which means that they inhale air from two distinct regions of space, allowing the dog to decipher the direction of a scent. The sniff also funnels stale air out through the sides of the nostrils, an action which pulls new air into the nose. Once inside the nose the air swirls around up to 300 million olfactory receptors, compared with our measly 6 million (Journal of the Royal Society Interface, vol 7, p 933).