This Is Why Your Dog Likes to Sniff Another Dog’s Butt

It's not as gross as you think.

When humans first meet, we shake hands, make eye contact, and ask questions to get to know each other. This greeting usually gives us enough information to make some safe assumptions about a person’s approximate age, health, and current mood. Dogs do the same thing, but in a much more crude way—they get their information by sniffing each other’s butt. Have you ever wondered why puppy breath smells so good?

If you have a pup, you know how unappealing this can be to watch. Luckily, evolution is on their side! While dogs can sniff 10,000 to 100,000 times more than us mere human beings, they have a special super organ, called Jacobson’s organ, in their naval cavity that prevents the smelling of poo and enhances the smell of everything else. Does your dog also eat its own poop? Here’s why they do.

OK, so why is the dog butt so special? Fair warning: I’m going to get anatomical on you. Every dog has two anal glands from which come secretions that, while masked to the human nose by the pup’s stool, tell an entire story to dogs who sniff it. With a couple inhales, any dog can ascertain if another dog is an old acquaintance or a new one, if they’re male or female, and if they’re aggressive or passive. Most dogs are aggressive or bark around vacuums—this is why they are scared of them.

The next time you see your dog go in for a sniff, just allow it to happen because if it gets cut short it can leave a dog confused and crazy with curiosity. But (!), keep that dog “greeting” to no more than three seconds because any longer and it can be a sign of dominant dog behavior and no one wants a bully on the puppy playground. If you’re unsure how long it should be, just think of the length of a handshake. Handshakes or behind sniffing… aren’t you grateful you’re a human being? If this the reason for this sniffing habit shocked you, you’ll love these 50 other secrets your pet won’t tell you.

Originally Published on The Family Handyman

Hannah Louise
I help people tell stories, whether that's about themselves, their company, or their product. Every project I take on has one priority: make sure the audience connects with the content. I've fine-tuned this skill over the past decade by creating content for audiences from C-suites to new hires in organizations large and small. I launched my career as a generational keynote speaker (think dispelling myths about Millennials/Xers/Boomers) and worked my way to being a principal of a consulting firm and published author by writing, presenting, and editing books, blogs, white papers, and research analysis. I bring my values of collaboration, humility, and research-driven strategies to everything I do. I'm also a cat owner, coffee enthusiast, and new home owner (you know, your stereotypical Millennial traits.)