Why Do Dogs Sniff Each Other’s Butts?
31 October, 2017
dog smell butts

Every dog owner knows that dogs sniff each other’s butts.  It probably isn’t the most pleasant sight to witness, but it’s just a dog’s way of life.  There are a few reasons why dogs sniff each other’s butts and it really boils down to their sense of smell and communication.

Dogs smell each other when they first meet

When two people meet, they evaluate body language, facial expressions and tone of voice to quickly assess each other.  When two dogs meet, they don’t say hello or shake hands like we do, but they will gather lots of information from each other’s body language. When two dogs meet, they usually walk in circles while scrutinizing each other’s demeanor and posture. Are their ears back? Is their tail wagging?

Dogs use their acute sense of smell to get a an assessment of the dog they’re meeting

Dogs use their keen sense of smell, along with a visual assessment, to get vital information about a new canine acquaintance. The chemical aromas identify gender and mood, and can even communicate what a dog likes to eat. By simply smelling, a dog can determine if a new friend is male or female, happy or aggressive, healthy or ill. Dogs get a general idea about each other with a quick sniff, but get more detailed information by getting up close and personal and that’s where the butts play a part.

The video below, from the “American Chemical Society’s Reactions series” explains this whole butt smelling communication!



Why smell each other’s butts?

Why do dogs smell each other’s butts and not ears or feet?  Well, to get scientific, inside the butt are two small sacs called anal glands which secrete a noxious smelling substance into the rectum through a pair of tiny openings.  We can’t smell it, but dogs can definitely smell the other dog’s rear and get some intel from the secretions!  Is this dog friendly?  Will he be aggressive? Is he feeling ill?

Each dog’s ‘butt smell’ is unique and a sort of doggy identification.

The butt smell of each dog is unique and two dogs can quickly determine if they’ve met before. That aroma emanating from the anal region is a unique form of doggy identification.  It can even play a part in dogs recognizing other dogs they haven’t seen for years and who was the dominant member just from the smell. When dogs belonging to the same family are separated for a while, they use the sense of smell to catch up on things. Changes in odors may convey where the dog went, what he ate, and what he did.

Dogs also butt sniff as a calming mechanism

Dogs will also smell rear ends as a calming mechanism.  By sniffing each other’s rears, it soothes them and serves as a stress reliever. Plus, sniffing is much quicker than a lengthy conversation. Nice to meet you and done!

So, even though sniffing butts might seem unpleasant to us, try to think of it as a healthy, socially acceptable form of dog communication and identification!

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