We have five physical senses but we mostly rely on sight to see our world. Dogs, on the other hand, interpret their world with their nose. The percentage of the dog’s brain devoted to analyzing smells is 40 times higher than ours, allowing them to identify as much as 10,000 times more. Humans have 5 million scent receptors, as opposed to the bloodhound, with 300 million. Their wet noses trapping scent molecules as they drift by. Dogs are able to smell drugs, fruits, cancers, alarm pheromone (fear), electricity, among a growing list of things we are just getting to know about and understand.
I am constantly amazed by how powerful a dog’s sense of smell is. Even if there is one tiny crumb, Blackspot never fails to dig it out of my bag, no matter how deeply embedded.
It is through smell that dogs identify people and other dogs. That’s why they sniff each other’s butts, their anal glands. It’s not rude. That’s where all the information is. It’s how they greet. And it’s more than mere identification. Dogs know about our moods and the age, sex, and status of other dogs through scent.
It’s not only their sense of smell that is impressive. Dogs also have amazing olfactory memory. The scent of a certain person can trigger memory – affection or otherwise.
We are now leveraging this powerful sense to help those in need, whether it’s disaster search and rescue, avalanche rescue, seizure alert, bomb sniffing or cancer screening.