14 things you should know about your dog’s nose

Dogs are known to have one of the most developed sense of smell in the animal kingdom. Whether you own a Beagle or a German shepherd, these furry creatures love to put their nose to work every seconds of the day.

You find it disgusting when your pooch sniff places like private parts right? Well, you cannot blame them as they need to scent and sniff different stuff to live a happy life.


You need to understand that just like talking is important for we humans to survive, so is sniffing to dogs; they’re born to sniff and smell things.

When you understand how a dog’s nose operate, it helps you become a better dog owner. Besides, you may want to give them more time to use their sniffing abilities in the yard and in adventurous vacations. More so, you may even decide to enroll your pooch in fun-filled sports involving the power of canine nosework.

Unfortunately, many dog owners do not know much about their dog’s nose. We shall be discussing 14 most thrilling things about your dog’s nose in this article.

Dog’s nose can work for different sniffing methods

Dog noses work for both air scenting and tracking. Air scenting involves your dog raising their head high to detect lighter, more volatile compounds in the air. While tracking involves your dog keeping their head low to be able to detect the scent of broken vegetation.

Dogs have a vomeronasal organ

Your dog’s nasal cavity houses the vomeronasal organ which consists of a patch of sensory cells. This organ acts as second nose, giving your dog a powerful sniffing capability. It detects pheromones – hormone-like agents that are produced by dogs to inform other dogs of their presence and personal space.

Wet noses help to capture scent

You might have read or hear people say a dry knows indicate a sick dog and a wet nose indicate a healthy dog. Well, that’s all a myth that has been debunked. That aside, wet noses play a major role in detecting smell.

When your dog’s nose is wet, it helps them capture tiny scent particles which increases their abilities to detect the smells. This is just like a wet cloth picking up dust better than a dry one.

The little indentation on your dog’s nose has a purpose

The indentation, known as “philtrum” which is found in the middle of the bottom part of your dog’s nose and the top part of their upper lip, is meant to carry moisture from the mouth to the rhinarium – the moist area of a dog’s nose.

Your dog may use sniffing as a calming signal

Your dog may sniff on the ground as a way to communicate with other dogs. This way, your dog sends special “calming signals” to another dog - especially one approaching where they are – informing them that there is no threat.

The slits at the side of your dog’s nose is for a reason

If you look at the exterior part of your dog’s nostrils more closely, you’d notice the presence of slits on both sides. These slits allow air to escape as your dog exhales.

Air flows out from those slits creating a swirl of air which lifts odor particles off the sniffed surfaces and objects, allowing them to be suctioned for proper investigation.

Your dog’s nose has special structures that help to amplify smells

Dogs have structures called “turbinates” which is accommodated in the long nasal cavity. Turbinates consist of intricate mazes made of bone and the purpose of these structures is to amplify smell by controlling how air moves through your dog’s nose, providing more surface area and better reception of smell.

Dog noses can sniff cancer

Research has shown that dog noses are highly developed and are capable of detecting melanomas as well as lung, breast, bladder, and ovarian cancer.

Perhaps in the future, we might have furry cats along with lab coats in cancer diagnostic settings.

Crusty noses nor noses with bumps or ulcers need vet attention

Although a dry nose is not a complete indication of sickness in your dog, you should watch out for crusty noses or noses with ulcers. When you notice any of these in your dogs, it may be a sign of nasal hyperkeratosis – a condition characterized by thickened skin around the dog’s nose, giving it a crusty look.

Your dog may also suffer from discoid lupus, which is an autoimmune disorder that causes unsightly ulcerations on your dog’s nose. More so, some dogs develop allergies and cancers in the nose.

So, it is important to always take your dog for proper check for signs of bumps, ulcers, or crusty noses.

Your dog can move their nostrils independently

Studies have shown that dogs move their nostrils when they sniff things. They first use their nostril to smell non-threatening things and they quickly switch to using the left nostril for further investigation. However, dogs exclusively use their right nostrils to sniff things associated with threat.

Dog noses are equipped with cilia

A dog’s nose is lined with special sensors that helps to detect foreign particles, especially things are not supposed to be there.

After these sensors detect dust, debris or pollen, the cilia, which are brook-like structures lined up in the dog’s nose and lungs, move into action to trigger a sneeze.  

As your dog sneezes, the irritants are swept out of their lungs and out of their body.

Dog noses can detect individual scents

Your dog’s nose are highly built that they can detect the smell of individual components of any food or product.

For example, when you get home, you may only smell soup that your mom or wife is preparing. But you see your dog, they can smell all the minute components of that soup, including the celery, carrots, parsley, potatoes, or other ingredients.

In fact, studies show that dogs are capable of detecting scents at concentrations of one part per trillion (ppt).

A dog’s nose can tell the passage of time

Every day is filled with different smell and each hour mark changes in odor, which is easily notice by dogs. Interestingly, dogs smell time; they can predict your arrival from a long day at work from how long your scent concentration lingers since your left the house.

Researchers have showed that the smell of dog owners linger for some time after they leave the house. The scent decays slowly over the day and completely come to rest around a certain time. So your dog associate a specific amount of scent with when you should be unlocking the door after a long day.

Dog nose prints are unique

Just like human fingerprints, dogs have a fairly unique nose prints that is easy to know. All you need is to dry your dog’s nose with a lint swab and add china ink to the leather of the nose. A nose print is then printed on a white cardboard.


Your dog’s nose is one of the most sophisticated parts of their body. Dogs smell things every seconds and you can only imagine how much they can detect just by sniffing things all through the day.

Do not underestimate your dog’s sniffing ability; these furry friends are even used to detect COVID-19 diseases in travelers. They detect the smell of drugs and diseases at a fast rate, all with their nose.

Dogs needs to sniff and scent to maintain a happy life. So while some of those sniffs might cause you to squirm a little, forgive them not adhering to your standard and marvel instead at the wonder of what they know using their nose.



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