We've all been there. You're having a nice break at the dog park…you and your best buddy are hanging out together, enjoying a sunny afternoon. You see your boss and his Cavalier King Charles Spaniel across the dog park and decide to do the big "Notice what we have in common - we both love our dogs" suck up. Making sure you are presenting proper dog park etiquette (dog under control-check, no full poop bag in hand-check, your t-shirt is suitable to be seen by boss in - check) you put on your best smile and head over to be sociable. This is your chance to be noticed, promotions are around the corner!
Your boss sees you, waves and has a big smile as you approach. WHEW, you relax a bit and start to enjoy the idea of a nice conversation and then your boss' expression changes...
Your French Bulldog has his nose buried up to his eyeballs in your boss' dog's butt. AND he is making the biggest Frenchie sniff noises imaginable. You try to pull him back, but his legs have grown into the ground and there is no moving him. THE UTTER HORROR!
Why, oh why, in the name of all things dog friendly would your normally sane dog be so intent on sniffing that poor Cavalier's butt? Why that dog?
Dogs sniff butts to learn what the other dog had to eat, if they are boy or girl, how friendly they are and if they have met before – kinda like filling out an online dating profile.
We humans are visual creatures so we flip through websites, swiping Left or Right as we narrow down our search of mates. Looking at pictures online would not be the same for our dogs. They see dull colors and probably would not understanding the concept of those flat grayish images = cute dogs in real life.
Our dog's world is one of a richness of smells. Layers upon layers of smells that we can't even begin to grasp the complexity of.
Dogs have 300,000,000 scent receptors in their noses and we have a mere 6,000,000. Plus, the smell analyzing part of a dog's brain has 40x more real estate than our brains do.
When we sniff something it flows down one path into our pitiful scent area and we kinda notice stinky or not stinky.
When dogs inhale the air is diverted into one area for breathing and about 12-15% of the air inhaled goes into a completely different area for scent categorizing and analyzing.
Plus, dogs have a scent categorizing organ we humans with our pitiful noses do not have an equivalent of…the Jacobsen's organ. The Jacobsen's organ, also called vomeronasal organ) has one job and one job only...to pick up pheromones.
Ahhh, pheromones, those sexy chemicals that send out big, bold messages of the readiness of each animal for mating. Not only do dog's have this dedicated sexy scent gland, that gland has a dedicated part of their brain that does nothing but analyze pheromones. That is a lot of real estate and a lot of brain power dedicated to just interpreting pheromones.
The pheromone molecules that the organ detects—and their analysis by the brain—do not get mixed up with odor molecules or their analysis, because the organ has its own nerves leading to a part of the brain devoted entirely to interpreting its signals. It's as if Jacobson's organ had its own dedicated computer server for JUST pheromones.
And THIS is why your Frenchie fiend was so insanely intent on sniffing your boss' Cavalier's butt. She is an intact show dog and was beginning to have her heat cycle. That pretty Blenheim Cavalier was sending pheromones out that screamed, "I'm not quite ready for you, but aren't I interesting?" And your Frenchie was picking up what she was putting down, thanks to his super-power dog nose.
PS - Below are a few of my fave dog butt sniffing pictures. Blame Google.
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