Why do dogs smell each other?

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Surely many times you are walking down the street and, when you have met a lot of dogs that cross and sniff each other's butt, you have asked yourself: ¿why do dogs smell each other? Although this custom is not very hygienic or pleasant for humans, the answer is more complicated than you think and it is about "chemistry ".

If you want to know why do dogs smell each other don't miss this AnimalWised article where we are going to explain in detail the reasons dogs have to always follow this ritual when they come across others of the same species.

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  1. Secret revealed: chemical communication
  2. The anal glands and Jacobson's organ
  3. Smell and olfactory memory

Secret revealed: chemical communication

Although seeing two dogs sniffing their anus is not a very comfortable situation for the owners, the truth is that this is how dogs collect all personal information from his other canine companions. From age, gender, what they have eaten, race, or even the mood of their namesakes; dogs are able to gather all that data by sniffing from behind.

And it is that unlike humans, who have a much less advanced sense of smell, man's best friends (as they are usually called) have a sense of smell between 10,000 and 100,000 times more developed than we do. In such a way that, when a dog is sniffing the rear of another with its muzzle, what it is doing is collecting the necessary information to get to know its canine companion better and thus be able to socialize correctly with him. This is called "chemical communication ", a term coined by the American Chemical Society (ACS), which discovered that dogs related and communicated through the chemistry their bodies give off with odors, like many animals.

The anal glands and Jacobson's organ

¿What is the reason that dogs can gather all that information just by smelling the anus of their companions? The answer is the anal glands. These sacs or anal glands are two small bags that are located one on each side of the animal's anus and that contain all the chemical information of the animal through the secretions it produces..

In 1975, Dr. George Preti, a chemist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in the American state of Philadelphia, did a study on the secretions of the anal glands of coyotes and dogs, and discovered the main chemicals and aromas that compose them. Thus, it turns out that the chemical communication pathway of these animals is a compound consisting of trimethylamine and various fatty acids, that allows, through its smell, to know their genetics and immune status. In this way, each dog gives off a characteristic smell because each one has a specific diet and a different immune and emotional system..

In addition to the sense of smell, dogs (like many other vertebrates, such as snakes) have a auxiliary olfactory system, and it is the Jacobson's organ or vomeronasal organ. This member is located between the nose and the mouth of dogs, specifically in the vomer bone, and thanks to its sensory neurons that send the collected information directly to the animal's brain, it is capable of detecting different chemical compounds, generally pheromones. So dogs are specialized in smelling the anal glands of their companions and thus being able to recognize your emotions and your physical state.

Smell and olfactory memory

The most developed sense of dogs, as is well known, is smell, which is 10,000 times more sensitive than their sense of taste, for example. Because they are born blind and deaf, newborn puppies already use it because they need to find the mother's nipples by smelling them in order to feed. Once they grow and become adults, dogs have 150 to 300 million odor receptive cells (compared to 5 million for humans) and this makes them adept at detecting all kinds of scents. For this reason, these animals are used as dogs to search for people, to detect explosives, to track drugs, or even to detect diseases in humans. In addition, the sense of smell has a function very important for reproduction of dogs and it is that when the females are in heat, their glands give off certain pheromones so that the males know that they are receptive.

Apart from being the most developed sense, dogs also have a very effective olfactory memory and they are able to remember the scent of other dogs, even if they haven't seen each other for years, thanks to the fact that they smell each other as usual whenever they meet again.. Its olfactory area reaches 150 cm2, while the area of ​​humans is 5 cm2, so they will always use smells to recognize and remember us and other animals.

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