Pet parents or not, we have all seen dogs sniffing each other’s butts. Little dogs seem to like sniffing butts of larger dogs because it’s just the right nose-height. Some humans even have to endure an embarrassing encounter with another pet parent when their furry companion sniff their dog’s butt!
But no need to feel embarrassed hooman! Dogs do this all the time and it’s just normal for them. Sniffing other dog’s butts is like humans looking and noting about someone else’s hair or clothing, or when we see someone with a smile on their lips indicating he or she is happy.
For dogs, sniffing butts allow them to determine the mood of the others, too.
Depending on the dog’s breed, they have 150 to 300 million of olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to a human’s five million. The best canine sniffers are the Bloodhounds, which leaves them with a special place in the law enforcement and search and rescue.
About a third of a dog’s brain process scent signals. Do you see that small opening in the roof of your dog’s mouth? That is called a Jacobson’s organ, or more officially, the vomeronasal organ. This does something like a “chemical analysis” on the molecules that enter it that allows dogs read gender, mood and health of another dog.
But what’s in the butt? Dogs have anal sacs near the base of their tails. For humans, that’s a no-no, because it is definitely smelly. For dogs, however, that is not what they are after. They could not care less about the poopy smell, but they smell those in the dog’s apocrine glands, which contains pheromones manufactured by those glands.
The Jacobson’s organ processes that to learn about the dog’s gender, mating status, mood, health, what they’ve eaten lately, and probably much more. Dogs have apocrine glands all over their bodies, but those butt sacs are easier to access.
Humans have apocrine glands too, which can be located in our armpits and crotches. That’s why don’t be shocked if your dogs head for your crotch! This is also the reason why they often sniff the crotches of strangers to get to know them better.
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