Dog Lifestyle, Pet Health, Pets and Family

6 Reasons Why Dogs Smell You and More Fun Facts About Dog Noses

Have you been wondering why do dogs smell you?  It is quite a common thing for dogs to smell you when you come home or anytime you greet them. 

A close up picture of a beige dog's nose against a blue background.

Dogs may smell you for many reasons including getting a good dose of your scent to reassure himself that you are with him. A dog may smell you just to enjoying filling his senses with a scent he is so fond of since a dog smells or scents inhaled by or through his nose are translated into a rich source of information in his brain.

A brown and white dog with a dark muzzle on a leash smelling yellow flowers outside.
Dog’s see the world through their noses!

Why Do Dogs Smell You

Your dog loves you beyond reason. If you have just arrived home after some time, your fur buddy has been starved of your company for a while. He will also have missed your personal scent which is very special to him.

Sounds adorable! Your dog smelling you largely revolves around the following factors:

  • Pure instinct.  Dogs have a strong sense of smell. Smelling you is an ideal way of taking us in.
  • Brilliant noses. Dogs’ noses may be incredible. They see the world differently from humans. They can rely on their smell more than their vision.
  • You are carrying a treat. Your dog can smell some high value treats that you might have in your pocket. They are simply expecting you to hand over a treat post-haste.
  • Pure Love. Your dog is giving you a physical. Dogs can smell diseases like diabetes, cancer, etc. This stands to reason that a dog will want to make sure you are perfectly healthy.
  • New cologne or perfume. Your dog can detect something new, like a different perfume.
  • Your makeup or lotion. You may be wearing some make-up, a lotion, or oil that your dog is keen to lick off or you may just have a taste that your dog enjoys.  

We further explore why your dog may lick you in our article 7 Reasons Why My Dog Licks Me

Brown dog lying inside smelling white flowers.

Why does your dog smell you when you come home?

Dogs are known for their keen sense of smell, and they use this sense to gather information about the world around them, including the people they interact with. When you come home, your dog may smell you as a way to learn about where you’ve been, who you’ve been with, and what you’ve been doing. Here are some reasons why dogs may smell you when you get home:

  • To identify you: Your dog may be smelling you to confirm that you are the same person they know and love. Dogs use scent to recognize familiar people and distinguish them from strangers.
  • To gather information: Dogs have an incredible sense of smell and can pick up on a wide range of scents. When they smell you, they may be trying to gather information about where you’ve been, what you’ve been doing, and who you’ve been with.
  • To bond with you: Smelling is an important part of how dogs bond with their owners. By smelling you, your dog may be reaffirming the bond between you and strengthening your relationship.
  • To assess your emotional state: Dogs are highly attuned to their owners’ emotional states, and they may use their sense of smell to pick up on any changes in your mood or emotional state when you come home.

Overall, dogs smell their owners when they come home for many reasons, and it’s a normal and natural behavior for them. It’s also worth noting that dogs may exhibit other behaviors when their owners come home, such as barking, jumping, or wagging their tails, as a way to express their excitement and affection.

So when you get home from a long day of work only to be enthusiastically sniffed by your fur buddy, don’t be annoyed. Just think of it as your dog is merely making a mental map of all the places you have been.

Breeds with the best sense of smell

All dogs have superior scent receptors. Some breeds like herding dogs, hounds, hunting dogs, and sporting dogs have the most scent-sensitive noses and smell better than others. These are the dog breeds you will often see as scent detection dogs.

Let’s have a look at the most brilliant scent canines.

  • Basset hounds
  • Bloodhounds
  • Beagles
  • Belgian Malinois
  • German Shorthaired Pointer
  • German Shepherds
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • English Springer Spaniels
  • Coonhounds
  • Dachshunds
  • Pointers

Dogs’ incredible sense of smell continues to surprise experts and scientists. 

A close up picture of a beige dog's nose against a blue background.

Fun Facts About Dog Noses

Dog noses are amazing, here are some fun facts about dog noses that may cause you to win your next trivia game!

  • Dogs have a sense of smell that is up to 100,000 times stronger than that of humans. They have over 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to our 6 million.
  • The wetness of a dog’s nose helps to enhance their sense of smell. The moisture on their nose helps to absorb scent chemicals in the air.
  • Dogs can detect odors in parts per trillion, which means they can smell things that are too faint for humans to detect.
  • A dog’s nose print is unique, much like a human fingerprint. In fact, some dog shelters and rescue organizations now use nose prints as a way to identify lost or stolen dogs.
  • The part of a dog’s brain that is responsible for processing smell is 40 times larger than that of a human’s.
  • Dogs have the ability to detect and differentiate between a wide range of scents, including drugs, explosives, and even some medical conditions like cancer.
  • Dogs use their sense of smell to gather information about their environment and other dogs. They can even use their noses to “read” the chemical messages left behind by other dogs, which can tell them things like the other dog’s sex, age, and mood.
  • A dog’s nose can also help them regulate their body temperature. By panting, they can cool the blood vessels in their noses and help cool their entire body.
  • Sense of smell is incredibly valuable to dogs as it tells them far more about their environment than we can ever imagine.

Check out our Fun Discussion on Everything Dog Smells in our book Motherpuppin’ Adorable: What to do when your dog is better than everyone else’s where we discuss everything dog smell in a fun way!

Dog Smelling You FAQs

What does it mean when a dog smells your breath?

When a dog smells your breath it can mean many things but one possibility is that the dog is simply curious about the scent coming from your mouth or your dog is trying to detect any changes in your body chemistry or health. It’s also possible that the dog is simply trying to establish a closer bond with you. Dogs use their sense of smell as a way to gather information about the world around them, including the taste of foods and by smelling your breath, they may be trying to learn more about you and your habits.

Can dogs smell infection in humans?

Dogs can smell infection in humans, such as Clostridium difficile (C. diff) or some types of cancer.
When a person has an infection, their body chemistry changes, and this can cause changes in the way they smell. Dogs can pick up on these changes and may be able to detect the presence of an infection through the person’s breath, skin, or bodily fluids.

What smells do dogs hate?

Some smells that dogs hate are:
Citrus – Many dogs dislike the smell of citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruits. You can use citrus-scented sprays or candles to deter dogs from certain areas or objects.
Vinegar – The strong odor of vinegar can be off-putting to dogs. You can use a vinegar and water solution to clean floors or furniture that you want to keep your dog away from.
Alcohol – Dogs may find the smell of alcohol unpleasant or even intoxicating. It’s important to keep alcoholic beverages out of reach of dogs, as they can be toxic if ingested.
Some essential oils – While essential oils can be used to soothe or calm dogs, some oils, such as tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil, can be toxic to dogs if ingested. In general, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian before using any essential oils around your dog.
Ammonia – The strong smell of ammonia can be irritating to dogs’ noses and respiratory systems.