Maybe for humans, the idea is seemingly disgusting, but for dogs, this phenomenon is perfectly normal.
Actually, dogs benefit in a certain way from this habit and every owner should encourage such behavior. For you it’s not unusual at all to shake a person’s hand when you greet him/her, so for dogs sniffing other dogs’ bottoms is pretty much the same.
While our blog’s mascot is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, these tips apply for any breed.
Dogs’ Olfactory Smelling Systems
If we want to understand why canines are so keen to use their noses we must understand the structure and function of their olfactory (smelling) systems. Of all the senses dogs possess, such as smell, hearing, sight, taste, and touch, the sense of smell is the strongest one they got.
Dog’s olfactory system is so developed that compared to the human’s olfactory system it’s about 100.000 times more sensitive. This is due to the number of smell receptors counting more than 100 million in a dog compared to just 5 million in a human being. Moreover, if a human’s brain spends only 5% of the mass detecting different odors, a dog’s brain uses about 35% for smelling purposes.
Dogs Can Smell Odorless Substances
Did you know that dogs have the ability to smell odorless substances? A special organ inside their nasal cavity is responsible for this. Located inside the nasal cavity the Jacobsen’s organ is specifically designed for the purpose of chemical communication between dogs. The nerves stretching from this organ to the brain have no connection with the ordinary smelling nerves and can only be stimulated by specific substances called pheromones.
Why Do Dogs Sniff Each Other’s Butts?
So when your dog meets some other dog it goes straight to sniffing his new friend’s rear end to determine intention and other useful information. Besides observing the other dog’s body language, sniffing the butts tells the dog if the other animal is happy or aggressive, healthy or sick, a boy or a girl. Since they cannot talk to share information they manage it through chemical communication using their enhanced smelling senses.
Sharing Information Through the Anal Glands
Inside the rectum, there are two pair organs called anal glands or anal sacs. The organs produce secretion with a really nasty smell, but owners can’t seem to identify the smell because the product is mixed with other bowel content. Dogs, on the other hand, can very much distinguish the two and share information.
The secreted fluid from the anal glands is dog specific and serves as an identification mark. Once a dog starts sniffing the other dog’s butt it can tell if they already met before or not. It’s more likely that if they are getting to know each other just know that the sniffing will last longer. It’s interesting that the first dog to start the sniffing between two of them is more likely to be the dominant individual in the relationship.
Sniffing butts is just social activity dogs enjoy doing. Besides communication purposes, many scientists claim that this process is actually really calming for the dogs and represents some sort of stress-relief. Understanding the dog’s social and behavioral needs will contribute to raising a healthy and happy canine companion.