Why Do Dogs Sniff Butts?

Your dog meets another dog during your afternoon walk.

What’s usually the first thing that happens?

They sniff each other’s butts.

This may seem odd or rather gross to you, but to your dog it’s completely different.

So why do dog sniff each other’s rear ends? And is it normal and healthy for them to do so?

dogs sniffing butts

A Dog’s Sense of Smell

A dog possesses up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to around 6 million in humans. In addition to this, there is a specific part of a dog’s brain devoted to analysing smells which is around 40 times greater than ours. 

Dogs can smell layers upon layers of scents compared to us who may not even be able to smell anything.

That’s impressive!

You would probably be sniffing everything insight too if you had a nose like that!

There are two main reasons why dogs sniff.

  1. They enjoy it!
    Things smell good! It is fun for them to smell things. Smelling is stimulating and feels good.

  2. To gather information
    Smelling/sniffing helps them figure out or learn about something or someone.

dog sniffing flower

Why Dogs Sniff Butts

Most people think that when dog’s sniff each other’s butts that they are just greeting one another. However, there is much more to a butt sniff then you might think.

Dogs are able to learn things about each other through sniffing one another’s butts. 
All animals and humans have their own unique scent.

While you can only vaguely pick up a personal scent, your dog can find a number of clues through their sniffing noses.

Scents are strongest around the genitals and anus and can actually tell a dog about gender, diet, reproductive status, temperament, health status and much more. Dogs can also remember these scents and therefore know if they have met a particular dog before.

This means that when dogs sniff one another’s butts they are actually telling stories about each other. Whereas we as humans would do this via small talk. Therefore, butt sniffing really is a normal behaviour.

If you’ve ever had your butt or crotch sniffed by a dog, no need to fear. A dog will also try to find out more about a human through butt or crotch-sniffing.

dogs sniffing butts

Should I Let My Dog Sniff Other Dog?

If the dogs meeting each other are well-socialised, healthy and supervised, it is actually better to let them sniff each other as much as they like (as long as they are both tolerating it well).

Dogs are much less likely to want to fight if they are allowed to take time in “getting-to-sniff-each other”.

Be sure to watch the behaviour and body language of a dog when sniffing is underway as some dogs need their personal space and some can get quite intense. If these opposite behaviours are occurring between the two it is best to separate the dogs.

Keep in mind that it is best for dogs to meet, greet and play in pairs. Over excitement is much more likely to occur in a dog when they are in a group, which can lead to unwanted fighting.

dogs sniffing noses

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