Why Dogs sniff Butts

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What’s with the weird butt sniffing fetish dogs have?  What could possibly be so enticing about the smell of dog butt that dogs just can’t get enough of?  And not just smell — they need to get a good long whiff that’s bordering on obsessive-compulsive.  And aren’t dogs supposed to have a sense of smell that’s up to a hundred thousand times stronger than ours?  Gross!!

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Researchers tell us that your dog isn’t exactly smelling other butts … at least, not in the way you think they are. They’re actually getting the scent of what’s coming from something called the “anal sac”, which is the source of some chemical secretions that contain a huge amount of information about the dog.  Your dog can tell a lot from what’s coming out of these glands, right down to their new friend’s diet and current emotional state.

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Right, so what about the eye watering farts your dog fills your room or car with? Wouldn’t other bottom smells override any sort of chemical a dog’s giving off? Researchers found that the chemical compounds are only half of the communication network, and that dogs have a super-sensitive receptor in their noses called the Jacobson’s organ. This particular receptor doesn’t sense any kind of poop smell or farts, but it’s tuned to the particular acids secreted by the anal glands. It allows your dog to completely filter out any other scents that might get in the way of receiving this chemical communication.  It’s also the same organ they use when they’re sniffing around the popular pee tree at the dog park.

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OK – still gross – but, hopefully you feel a little better about your dog’s weird way of shaking hands.  I should mention too that humans have the same sort of glands that dogs do. Ours just happen to be located in slightly different places, and that’s why some dogs are dedicated crotch-sniffers. They’re getting all kinds of information about us there, which is humanly socially unacceptable, wonder if we can teach them to just ask?

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