Thursday, September 16, 2010

I Sniff, Therefore I Am

Every species seems to have a preferred or dominant sensory system. For dogs, the sense of smell reigns supreme. It has been estimated that dogs can identify smells somewhere between 1,000 to 10,000 times better than humans can. What you smell as chili from the pot on the stove, dogs smell as meat, beans, tomato, onions and each of the spices. There are some scents that dogs don’t particularly like: citrus smells, such as lemon, lime and orange and spicy smells like red pepper. They particularly dislike the smell of citronella.

The hairless part at the end of a dog’s nose is called the ‘leather’. If you look carefully at your dog’s nose, you will see patterns of ridges and dimples. This pattern makes up the nose print which is thought to be as unique as a human’s fingerprints.

Everyone knows that a dog’s nose is usually cool and moist. The main purpose of the moisture is to assist in the collection of odor molecules. The moisture on a dog’s nose acts like Velcro, and when a scent molecule touches it, it sticks to the surface and starts to dissolve. If there is not enough mucous being generated, dogs will resort to licking their noses to provide additional collecting power. An average sized dog produces about a pint of mucous a day which probably explains why dogs drink substantial amounts of water.

Breeds with larger noses will have more smell receptors and hence greater scenting ability. For example, a dachshund has about 125 million smell receptor cells, while a fox terrier has 147 million and a German shepherd dog has about 225 million. The very scent oriented beagle has the same as the German shepherd, but is only half his size. The champion of scenting, the bloodhound, has about 300 million in his nose. Humans have a paltry 5 million or about 2% of the beagle’s smell receptors.

The canine equivalent of ink is urine. A dog’s urine contains a great deal of information about that dog. Sniffing a fire hydrant or a tree along a route popular with other dogs thus becomes a means of keeping abreast of current events. Dogs prefer to mark vertical surfaces because having the scent above ground allows the air to carry it further. That tree serves as a large canine tabloid containing the latest news from the dog world. It has a gossip column and the personal section of the classified ads. The next time you see your dog sniffing a tree frequented by other dogs, you can imagine him reading the news of the day -- or, more likely, checking out the single ads.

Alice England

(Apparently, this little fellow has a lot to tell the neighbor dogs about. heehee.)


Pauline said...

Very interesting things I learned just now about dogs and their 'sniffers' - wow I had no idea that the lamp post was such a hang-out for doggie news.

I'm floored at the other little doggie.....must be part camel????

Giupetto and Gianna Tails said...

First, let me say that peeing dog is amazing! That was too funny. LOL
This is a great post. Now I will let Giupetto take a little more time while reading. LOL Gianna does not seem to be interested in the news. She is always pulling him forward to contiue the walk. Her leather is much bigger than Giupetto's. Maybe she can already read the news without getting close up like he does. Or maybe she prefers the speed reading method, while Giupetto likes to take his time and sniff/read every word. LOL

HappyDapperDogs said...

Very infomative, great post!

Cody's Closet said...

Great post and information! Loving everyone's blogging.

I always call it "checking their email" when they are sniffing where other dogs have peed. Cody's really into it; Copper not so much.

HappyDapperDogs said...

Annie, how about reading their "Pee-mail"! LOL

makingstuffwithlove said...

That's funny, Tammy lol

Art and Sew Forth said...

I should take that video to the gym and have the kids ace against this dog on their hands! That's one talented dog!
Interesting post, Alice! I especially liked the gossip 'column' info!

SassySashadoxie said...

Great info. Sasha doesn't do much sniffies on walks. She is too busy barking and dragging me to what ever human out there might pet her and tell her how cute she is. Charlie on the other hand, sniff sniff, pee pee on every leaf, tree, fence post, and anything else he fills needs to add his two cents onto the daily news. Sasha I think prefers high tech communications like her blog or twitter. heehee.

AngelPups said...

Great info, Alice!! I always think of my pups "getting info, leaving info" when they stop to smell first then leave their mark ;-) And I always wonder why they don't seem to smell stuff that is right in front of them, but will race across a half acre yard to sniff out something the size of a quarter!! Now I know!!