A dog’s sense of smell is at least 10,000 times better than his hooman’s, given that he has 300 million scent sensors compared with our meagre six million. These olfactory capabilities are highly tuned in breeds such as the Bloodhound, Basset Hound, Beagle, German Shepherd and Labrador Retriever.
But why are canines obsessed with each other’s posteriors? The Jacobson’s organ refers to a patch of sensory cells located inside the nasal cavity, opening into the upper part of the mouth, which is connected to a scent-dedicated part of the brain that is 40 times larger than the associated region in hoomans. This enables your furry friend to focus less on the smell of poop, and more on the apocrine glands, which are most highly concentrated around the genitals and the anus.
These glands release chemical pheromones that provide information on gender, age, diet, health, and even mood, which is especially useful if a mutt is looking to mate. The dominant dog will usually initiate the investigation and is able to recognise the unique familiar scents from a previously encountered canine; from here, both parties may take their cues on how to behave whilst they learn more about each other.
However, butt-sniffing serves more than merely a form of chemical communication. This innate ritual is also thought to soothe pooches and reduce stress, so grin and bear it when that cute little snout heads your way! ❤
~ Tania Marie de Saram