Dogs and olfaction  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

While the human brain is dominated by a large visual cortex, the dog brain is dominated by an olfactory cortex. The olfactory bulb in dogs is roughly forty times bigger than the olfactory bulb in humans, relative to total brain size, with 125 to 220 million smell-sensitive receptors. The bloodhound exceeds this standard with nearly 300 million receptors.

Consequently, it has been estimated that dogs, in general, have an olfactory sense ranging from one hundred thousand to one million times more sensitive than a human's. In some dog breeds, such as bloodhounds, the olfactory sense may be up to 100 million times greater than a human's. The wet nose, or rhinarium, is essential for determining the direction of the air current containing the smell. Cold receptors in the skin are sensitive to the cooling of the skin by evaporation of the moisture by air currents.

It is estimated that dogs in general have an olfactory sense approximately a hundred thousand to a million times more acute than a human's. This does not mean they are overwhelmed by smells our noses can detect; rather, it means they can discern a molecular presence when it is in much greater dilution in the carrier, air.

Scenthounds as a group can smell one- to ten-million times more acutely than a human, and Bloodhounds, which have the keenest sense of smell of any dogs, have noses ten- to one-hundred-million times more sensitive than a human's. They were bred for the specific purpose of tracking humans, and can detect a scent trail a few days old. The second-most-sensitive nose is possessed by the Basset Hound, which was bred to track and hunt rabbits and other small animals.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Dogs and olfaction" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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