Training
A dog with his butt in another dog's face.
Share this image

Why Do Dogs Smell Each Other’s Butts?

Why do dogs smell each other's butts? It may seem like a gross, inappropriate behavior to us humans, but to dogs, it's a natural way of greeting that provides some key insights.

Jill Breitner  |  Feb 22nd 2019


Why do dogs smell each other’s butts? It may seem weird and gross to us but butt sniffing is how dogs gather information about each other and it’s not only normal, it’s a necessary ritual that dogs do during greetings.

Why do dogs smell each other’s butts? The basics

A dog sitting and looking back.

Why do dogs smell each other’s butts? Photography ©Fly_dragonfly | Thinkstock.

Still grossed out and still wondering, “Why do dogs smell each other’s butts?” The hormones excreted by the glands surrounding their genitalia offer a lot of information about the dog and we need to get over it. It’s a dogs version of a hand shake.

A dog’s nose is much more sensitive than ours, to the tune of between 10,000 to 100,000 times more sensitive. Greetings are how dogs communicate and that sometimes involves smelling each others’ butts and inguinal area, offering very important information, such as, another dog’s diet, gender and emotional state.

So, when your dog is smelling another dog (as shown in the image below), we need to allow them to do their thing. Not allowing them this necessary and informative behavioral ritual is robbing them of their instinctive and habitual nature. This can be one reason that dogs become reactive or aggressive when meeting other dogs on leash. Laurie Luck of Smart Dog University offers some great advice about dog greetings that will go a long way to keeping your dog safe while you’re learning to be a better dog body language reader.

Why do dogs smell each other’s butts? The pose matters

Illustration from the Dog Decoder smartphone app, illustrated by Lili Chin.

Why do dogs smell each other’s butts? Here’s what info they get out of butt sniffing

Illustration from the Dog Decoder smartphone app, illustrated by Lili Chin.

Illustration from the Dog Decoder smartphone app, illustrated by Lili Chin.

Why do dogs smell each other’s butts? The details

Illustration from the Dog Decoder smartphone app, illustrated by Lili Chin.

Some dogs can go overboard in their zeal for getting to know another dog, as shown in the above image. Keen observation and knowledge of the body languages of both dogs, the sniffer and the sniffee, will go a long way in making our dogs more comfortable. In these times, following the 3-second dog greeting rule can keep everyone safe and happy.

Denise O’Moore of Mighty Dog Graphics shares her insights on 3 second dog greetings.

Why do dogs smell each other’s butts? The bottom line is — it’s for a good reason and you need to let them do it!

Next time you’re tempted to stop your dog from greeting another dog by sniffing their butt, please remember that doing so could create undo stress and anxiety when meeting other dogs in the future. Then, be thankful next time someone politely offers you a handshake, instead of a sniff.

Thumbnail: Photography ©WilleeCole | Thinkstock. 

This piece was originally published in 2017. 

About the author:

Jill Breitner is a professional dog trainer and dog body language expert. She is a certified Fear Free Professional for Dogs and Cats; as well as Certified in Animal Behavior and Welfare. She is the author of Dog Decoder, a smartphone app about dog body language. Join Jill on her on her Facebook page

Read more about dog training and behavior on Dogster.com: