Why do dogs smell each others' bums?

Author picture Ralf  - updated: 16/10/2019

Dogs often sniff each other's bums when they first meet. While it might make us feel a bit uncomfortable it is completely normal behaviour for a dog! Learn more about this doggy habit and why it is important to let your dog sniff freely. 

Dogs experience the world with their nose - in fact, more than 30% of their brain is dedicated to interpreting odours! Dogs actually smell in 'stereo', so they know where smells come from and can even smell past scents. By means of scent, they also maintain a sense of time. But, most importantly: dogs recognize each other through scent.

Poop is a business card

A dog leaves a special signature scent from the anal glands every time they defecate. Dogs can recognise each other from this scent, which they spread by wiping their feet on grass and tail wagging. 

By sniffing at each other's droppings, dogs know who was there previously. And when they greet other dogs, they like to sniff under the tail to know who they are dealing with. Curiously though male dogs are more likely to sniff each others' backend, while bitches smell the muzzles.

As mentioned above, a dog's ability to smell is extremely powerful. This is partly due to the Jacobsen organ, which is located at the back of the mouth. This allows the dog to detect tiny odour molecules that enter through the mouth.

Have you ever seen your dog 'bite' the air for smell? This is because of the Jacobsen organ! Biting the air allows a dog to get very specific data from scents such as identifying fertile partners, or when young puppies are seeking their mother to get to her milk. With their powerful sense of smell, dogs receive information about the age, gender, health and even the mood of the other dog.

Sniffing is greeting

When meeting, dogs recognize and get-to-know each other by sniffing under the tail. As such, it's important to allow them to do this. Sniffing calms the atmosphere and makes a meeting calmer and quieter. When out dog walking and you feel it's safe when a new dog approaches, loosen the leash a bit so that the dogs have the space to walk around each other. 

Why do dogs want to smell everything and everyone?

For all dogs, and certainly for insecure dogs, sniffing is extremely important for them in collecting information. Dog walkers: give your dog some control over the route you take and what they stop and sniff. There are several good reasons for this:

  • It gives the dog important information about their surroundings
  • It gives the dog more control because they have an increased understanding of the world
  • It gives your dog a mental challenge
  • It reduces stress

Why do dogs sniff at each other's bums?

  • When a dog defecates, the anal glands leave a unique smell
  • Dogs recognise each other through this scent
  • This scent provides information about a dog's gender, mood and identity
  • The atmosphere is more relaxed when dogs are able to sniff each other

So whilst out and about with your furry friend, the next time let him do what comes naturally and have him explore the doggo world in ways only he can. It will help him be more relaxed and at ease around his mates. And whenever there just isn't enough time to give him all the walkies her deserves you can always count on the friendly and experienced dog walkers and sitters at Pawshake.