Every wonder about your dog’s nose and their ability to detect smells?
I have had dogs all my life but never had a dog so focused on seeing with his nose like my dog Bayou, a Lab-coon hound mix we adopted from our local animal shelter. We live on a sheep farm and every morning after breakfast, Bayou and I walk through the pastures before the sheep are let out of their barn. Bayou loves this routine and searches high and low over the pasture with his nose.
If he picks up a scent that he is interested in, and I’m assuming this scent is something that is different from the sheep scent, Bayou’s hair on his back sticks up, his tail shoots up and he lets out a loud coon-hound howl. This is not a “bark” this is a ouwwwwwwwwwooooooooo! And Bayou is off scampering about following this trail of molecules belonging to a past visitor.
There are no creatures in sight but something must have been there, hours ago. And Bayou knows it.
It is amazing how much more sensitive dogs’ noses are compared to our own smell capabilities. Frankly, there is no comparison.
A dog’s sense of smell starts with the vast number of olfactory receptors in their noses. They have up to 300 million olfactory receptors, compared to 6 million in humans. And a dog’s brain that is focused on smell is 40 times larger than the human brain’s equivalent.
Dr. James Walker of the Sensory Research Institute at Florida State University, studied the power of a dog’s nose in 2002. In an oft sited study Dr. Walker documented that a dog can detect chemicals at one ten-thousandth to one hundred-thousandth the concentrations that humans can. In other words, at a minimum, dogs can smell 10,000 times better than a human.
How incredible is that sense of smell compared to ours?
Dr. Walker puts it this way, ”If you make the analogy to vision, what you and I can see at a third of a mile, a dog could see more than 3,000 miles away and still see as well.”
Dogs discriminate and follow a particular scent is truly amazing. One day when we were on our walk and returning home, a friend’s car was in the driveway. I watched as Bayou made a bee line around the car and up the path to the house and I realized he was following the scent of my friend. I just followed Bayou and he followed her scent to my mother-in-law’s apartment where my friend was visiting, all the while wagging his tale. He knew who was here from her familiar smell.
Appreciate your dog’s amazing olfactory sense and let them enjoy using it on your daily walk.
When they stop to smell the roses, they are reading the scent to determine who has been there before. Give them the time to enjoy using their nose!
Cecilia Tkaczyk and her dog Bayou live on a sheep farm and she founded a company, CeCe’s Wool that makes dog beds and other products filled with wool batting. The dog beds are filled with wool from local sheep farms. Bayou is responsible for product testing.