Pets & Animal Dog Breeds

The Wonder of a Dog"s Nose

Have you ever watched a canine traverse an area with her nose to the ground the whole time? It seems she never looks up to take stock of her surroundings as though she does not need to.
For the most part this is true; a dog's nose is around 1,000 to 10,000 times (some say higher) more acute than a human's depending on the dog breed.
And where dogs can see in color like people, though more dimly, there is no way we can claim anything close to that nose.
A dog is a marvelous machine with some amazing abilities, not the least of which is her sense of smell.
She uses it like bats use radar and probably more effectively.
Scent is everything to your dog, her whole world and she learns an extreme amount using it.
Undoubtedly you have noticed dogs sniffing each other's mouths or back ends, a building corner or a fire hydrant.
Perhaps you have wondered what the interest could possibly be.
To a dog, smell is like an open book and she inhales the story.
How The Nose Works A dog's nose works like a human's: air pulled over the olfactory receptors in the nose allows the membranes to distinguish scent molecules, which emanate from everything living or previously living.
In humans, that scent receiving area is about the size of a postage stamp or one inch.
In a dog, it can be as large as a piece of letter-sized paper, or 60 inches, depending on the dog breed.
The larger the dog and the larger the muzzle, the bigger the olfactory receptors.
Even the shortest mugs will have much better smelling capabilities than a person.
And the more air that is allowed in, the more a dog can discern and catalog scents.
This is why Poochie loves to hang her head out the car window; she gets much better reception that way.
With all this sniffing power, Poochie is fantastically suited for a myriad of jobs that humans are not and never will be.
We use dogs with good noses to track down escaped convicts, rescue people trapped in avalanches or under rubble, to hunt down illegal paraphernalia, and even detect when a person's blood sugar levels are crashing.
A trained dog can find cadavers or dead bodies many years old.
All of this and so much more is thanks to Poochie's nose.
The Other Senses Some dogs are better balanced in the senses than others.
German Shepherds have high, alert ears, clear eyes and moderate muzzles.
These features allow them to see, hear and smell well.
A bloodhound, known for its astonishing tracking abilities, possesses droopy ears that can interfere with clear sound and wrinkles around the face that can get in the way of sight.
These features offer different pros and cons but it is obvious the hound was bred with smelling skills in mind and it excels in this like no other.
On occasion dogs might lose other senses like sight or rely too heavily on one sense like smell.
Sometimes this can cause a dog to become confused and lose the ability to differentiate between mind pictures, which are scent memories, and visuals.
For example, an alpha human may be recognized by his dog by scent easily, provided that scent doesn't change.
As soon as the scent changes, a problem can arise.
Perhaps it is a new shirt or a new pair of shorts, something the dog has never smelled before and can't reconcile to his alpha human.
Or the human has been petting other dogs, especially of the opposite sex where none of the animals have been spayed or neutered.
In cases like this, Poochie might not like where her senses are taking her and show outward aggression towards the alpha she can no longer identify by smell alone.
This can have something to do with Poochie's past, especially if she is a stray whose history is unknown, or it may be that her sight is failing.
No matter the circumstances or her past, aggression is not to be tolerated.
The problem needs a fix before Poochie starts snapping.
In the case of the new clothes, perhaps an old article can be brought out too so the familiar scent is present or break the clothes in for a while before wearing around the dog.
For the smell of other dogs the only cure may be to get Poochie fixed or the alpha human may have to wash the smell off.
Usually this behavior will be seen in an unneutered male rather than a female but it depends on the dog.
Dogs gain so much through their noses and by scent that it makes perfect sense one might get confused now and then.
However, really their scent images boast amazing clarity and their scent memory tends to be outstanding, especially when the area of their brains dedicated to scent is 40 times bigger than a human's.
Man has yet to replicate the uncanny organ known as a dog's nose and perhaps we never will but for now it is enough to simply appreciate the elegance and efficiency that nature provides via Poochie and all the wonderful things her nose can do.

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