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8 Smells That Dogs Love That May Surprise You

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on May 31, 2024 by Dogster Team

A dog sniffing a scent

8 Smells That Dogs Love That May Surprise You


Dr. Chyrle Bonk Photo


Dr. Chyrle Bonk

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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You’re probably well-acquainted with the drill. You take your pup out for a walk, and they stop at every lamppost and bush along the way. Sure, it’s annoying, but remember that they’re following their nose—literally! Besides the obvious scents, there are several others that may attract your pup’s attention. Some may even surprise you.

The sense of smell in dogs is legendary. Some research shows that they can even detect the difference in identical twins. More remarkable is the growing body of evidence that canines can identify certain cancers in humans. With this kind of smelling power, it should come as no surprise that dogs can have a preference for scents that go beyond steak and chicken.

Nature equipped dogs for detecting different smells. Whereas people have around 5 million scent receptors, dogs have over 100 million. Bloodhounds can have up to 300 million scent receptors! Let’s run down some of the amazing things that dogs not only can detect but may also gravitate toward on their daily stroll in the neighborhood. Of course, it is only speculation and observation that lead us to these conclusions, and preferences can vary among individual dogs.

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The 8 Smells That Dogs Love

1. Vanilla

Image Credit: bineshab, Pixabay

Some scents are pleasant to canines because of their effect. Your dog may not know why they like vanilla, but a study published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science found that it had a calming effect on rescue dogs in shelter situations. The pups exposed to vanilla barked less and engaged in less activity, an indication that they were less stressed.

2. Coconut

Image Credit: moho01, Pixabay

The same study found a similar effect with coconut. The dogs also slept more when in the presence of a coconut scent, making it an excellent way to recover from stress. The interesting thing about the study’s data is that humans received similar health benefits from the scent and consumption of this tropical fruit. You and your pet are definitely on the same page! It certainly doesn’t hurt that coconut tastes good too.

3. Lavender

Image Credit: Couleur, Pixabay

This one is something you should keep in mind when you’re training your puppy. Another study published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science showed that dogs were more likely to interact with toys scented with the soothing scent of lavender. That’s helpful to know when trying to teach your pet to play with their chewie and not the furniture. But be aware that lavender is toxic to dogs when consumed in large amounts.

4. Dead Things

Dead Things
Image Credit: Pexels

It’s essential to understand that a good scent is in the nose of the detector. What repels us is sometimes a magnet for the canine sniffer. Take rotting stuff, for example. While you’re likely to run, your dog will probably roll around in it. The reason isn’t clear. Your pet may use it to mark themselves or maybe hide their scent from potential predators. All we know is that it stinks!

5. Rabbits

Image Credit: jatocreate, Pixabay

Smell, or olfaction, is your dog’s keenest sense. Even when a dog can’t see their prey, they can still pick up its scent. It only seems natural that your pup would love the smell of their quarry too. They’ll know if rabbits are in the area long before you do, for example. Consider it part of the natural hunting instincts in your pup.

6. Each Other

dogs lying together
Image By: Pexels

The sensitivity of your dog’s sense of smell comes in handy when meeting canine friends. Not only do they find out who’s in the neighborhood, but they also get a full dossier on each one. They can figure out another dog’s sex, age, health status, and more from a quick sniff. There is a valid evolutionary reason for this. They can get a competitive edge by assessing potential threats and opportunities.

7. Ginger

Image By: Couleur, Pixabay

Ginger has calming effects on humans. It can settle down a queasy stomach, which we all appreciate. It can have similar health benefits for canines. This aromatic root can ease stress and help your pet relax in stressful situations.

8. You!

dog with owner
Image Credit: 8777334, Pixabay

This one may not come as much of a surprise were it not coupled with a difference in brain activity in dogs. Researchers found that detecting the scent of a familiar human showed a heightened response in the caudate nucleus, the part of the brain associated with positive experiences. After all, you’re the one who feeds them and gives them treats!

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Having an extraordinary sense of smell has given dogs an evolutionary edge over the centuries. It makes sense that they would have a preference—or aversion—to certain scents. An interesting observation is how many dog-preferred scents are also human preferred. This is another thing that we have in common with canines that we can celebrate.

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Featured Image Credit: AvinaCeleste, Pixabay

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