Like all dogs, Jeep knows more about the world around her because of her incredible sense of smell. Her nose is even more important to her than her eyes. When Jeep sniffs your hand she is gathering all kinds of information about you including what you had for breakfast and how many pets live in your house. In fact Jeep’s sense of smell is over 20,000 to 50,000 times stronger than our sense of smell!
It is not surprising that dogs have helped people locate missing objects and find lost people. Some dogs can follow a trail that is more than a week old. Using their noses, dogs can warn people about drugs or bombs. Some dogs even use their noses to search for dead bodies or cadavers. Dogs have detected drowned people in over 80 feet of water. Humans are just now learning that some dogs can detect illness and disease like cancer before a doctor can. That is pretty amazing!
So what does Jeep and the rest of her dog friends have that we don’t? For starters, they have a larger area within their nose that is covered with far more sensory receptor cells for sniffing. It is estimated that a dog uses one third of its brain just for scenting. That is 40 times more brain power devoted for smelling than a human. Unlike us, when a dog breathes through their nose, the air does not go back out through their nostrils. Instead the exhaled air goes out side slits on a dog’s nose allowing more air flow for better sniffing. (Check out Jeep’s side slits in this picture.)
While you are at it, be sure to check out this fun cartoon that explains how dogs “see” with their noses.