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A Dog’s Nose: 11 Fascinating Things to Know!

A Dog’s Nose: 11 Fascinating Things to Know!

A Black Dog Nose of a Black and White Dog
A Black Dog Nose of a Black and White Dog


While your dog’s nose has the same two functions as our own noses (smelling and breathing), a dog’s nose is up to 100,000 times BETTER than our own!  Let’s look at 11 fascinating things about a dog’s nose you should know!


Dog Nose Facts: The Nasal Cavity

  • According to, your dog’s nose has “up to 300 million olfactory receptors (also called smell receptors) in their noses.” In comparison, humans have approximately 5-6 million!
  • But, that’s not all! The part of a dog’s brain that recognizes and interprets odors is “about 40 times larger” than our own!


Dog's Nose is perfect for Scent Work
A Golden Retriever Using His Nose for Scent Work


Video: “How do Dogs “See” With Their Noses?”


  • But there’s more! Dogs have a special organ that offers a critical “second” sense of smell. The vomeronasal organ (also called the Jacobson’s organ) detects pheromones or species-specific odors, hormones or chemical substances (think of them as “chemical messages”). Jacobson’s organ (above the roof of the mouth) is not receptive to “ordinary” odors, but it can help the dog smell, understand and react to pheromones.


Diagram of a Dog's Nose
The Canine Nasal Cavity (Courtesy:


This organ plays a huge role in the dog’s:

    • Reproduction and mating.
    • Physiology.
    • Instinct.
    • Basic emotions and
    • Behavior.

While different animals exhibit different responses to these chemical messages through the Jacobson’s organ, canines often react by:

    • Pushing their tongues against the roof of their mouth.
    • Foam at the mouth.
    • Throw back the head and raise or curl the upper lip.
    • And teeth chattering!


“The Mystery Behind Teeth Chattering in Dogs.”


A Dog’s Nose: How the Nose Works

  • Dogs can smell separately with each nostril (or “nare”) creating “3-D” or “stereo” smelling!
  • The dog’s nose is designed to breathe in and out at the same time! They inhale through their nostril and exhale through the slits at the side of their noses. This helps to not dilute the incoming odors.


Diagram of How a Dog's Nose Works
How a Dog’s Nose Works (Courtesy:


  • The dog’s nose can identify the passage of time due to the minuscule reduction in odor concentrations over time.
  • Your dog’s nose helps them:
    • Find food.
    • Find a mate.
    • Find their offspring (and vice versa by helping the offspring finds their parents) and
    • Avoid predators.
  • While all canines have a stronger sense of smell than their human companions, some K9 breeds possess a stronger sense of smell. These super-sniffer breeds include the:
    • German Shepherds.
    • Labrador Retrievers.
    • Bloodhounds (boasting 300 million olfactory receptors!)

While dogs with short, smushed-in faces, like pugs, may have a compromised sense of smell.


“A dog’s sense of smell is … so sensitive that (dogs can) detect the equivalent of a ½ teaspoon of sugar in an Olympic-sized swimming pool!”

(Dr. Michael T. Nappier, DVM, DABVP, the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine)


  • Through their nose, the dog can also pinpoint the exact location of a scent and which direction it’s moving in.

    Golden Retriever Sniffing with His Nose
    A Golden Retriever Inhaling with His Nose
  • A dog’s nose is an incredible detector of human illnesses including:
    • Migraines.
    • Cancers.
    • Narcolepsy (associated with sleep-wake cycles).
    • Epilepsy (seizures) and
    • Low Blood Sugar.
  • Finally, the power of a dog’s nose is so incredible that it can sense human feelings! They can detect our:
    • Happiness.
    • Fear.
    • Anxiety or stress.
    • Perspiration and
    • Adrenaline.


Scent Work: 7 Tips on How to Train Your Dog.”


>> Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and blog (at the bottom of this page) so you don’t miss our next blog in this series, “10 Fascinating Things Your Dog’s Nose Knows!”


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3 Dogs Playing
Happy Dogs Enjoying the East Valley K9 Doggy Daycare!

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