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Why Do Dogs Sniff Butts? 6 Common Reasons

You enter the dog park with your canine companion. He exits the vehicle trembling with excitement. His nose moved a million miles per second to sniff the air. He virtually prances up to the park entrance, and you open the gate for him. A familiar friend comes sprinting up to him as he advances. They begin to circle each other and...

Here it arrives! They are smelling one other's buttocks with elation! Every dog owner has experienced this (to humans) unpleasant social practice, but why do dogs sniff buttocks to begin with?

Learn why dogs sniff buttocks in "Why Do Dogs Sniff Butts? 6 Common Reasons" by BestForPets (bestforpets.org) so you may understand why your dog engages in this strange (to you) activity.

6 Reasons Dogs Sniff Butts

1. Sniffing the buttocks is the pinnacle of canine communication.

Dogs have 150 million olfactory receptors, compared to only 5 million for humans. In addition, they have Jacobson’s organ (or the vomeronasal organ) in their nasal cavity, which opens behind their upper incisors into the roof of their mouths.

Jacobson’s organ is a second olfactory system meant to communicate via chemicals. This organ’s nerves connect directly to the brain and respond to the “indetectable” scents in the environment, i.e. pheromones.

In the dog world, the combined sensing capacity helps dogs determine when others are ready to mate or when puppies are hungry and need to find their mother.

Using the combined strength of the nose and Jacobson’s organ, smelling another dog’s butt provides your dog with all of the information he needs about his furry companion.

2. They sniff to greet other dogs.

Humans exchange greetings through shaking hands, embracing, waving, and smiling. Then, we exchange well-being inquiries and other necessary pleasantries. Dogs understand each other’s body language, but smelling each other’s butts is the canine equivalent of the human greeting, “Hello!” How are ya?”

3. Identification is aided by sniffing butts.

Dogs who have been separated for some time smell each other’s butts in order to determine the other dog’s identify. All dogs have a distinct aroma emanating from their anal glands, which informs other canines everything about that dog.

Sniffing the dog’s butt reveals where he has been, what he has been doing since they last met, what he has been eating, etc. Just as humans may correlate a smell with a memory of a person, dogs can recognise dogs they haven’t seen in years by using their heightened sense of smell.

4. The anal glands of another dog contain their secrets.

Dogs’ anal glands are extremely powerful and perform a specific function in the dog world. Most owners are unaware that their dogs emit a liquid with every bowel movement since it is expelled with the poo.

This secretion gives other canines all the information they need about another dog. Is the second animal healthy? Where did it come from? Does it consume a balanced diet? Your dog can learn everything he needs to know about another dog by sniffing the butt of another dog and smelling their anal glands.

5. Sniffing the butt can create dominance.

When two dogs meet, dominant dogs are typically the first to initiate the ritual of butt sniffing. During this time, the submissive dog will often remain quite still, allowing the dominant dog to get a good scent so he understands the submissive dog is not a threat. It is next the turn of the submissive dog. The dominant dog may growl to terminate the sniffing session, at which point the submissive dog will cease sniffing and retreat.

6. Sniffing buttocks is therapeutic.

As puppies, dogs begin smelling each other’s buttocks, which becomes a calming routine for them. If your dog is feeling anxious or distressed, it may likely smell its own buttocks to calm and comfort itself.


After an hour of running through the dog park, playing with pals, and sniffing several butts, your dog is ready to return home. He is tranquil, content, and fully exhausted.

As you leave, a new dog enters, and the two take a time to smell one other’s rear ends. After a minute of prancing, you leash up your dog and return to your vehicle.

You and your dog walk away with your heads held high because you both recognize that your dog is the ultimate social charmer. He is, after all, an expert butt sniffer.

Why Do Dogs Sniff Butts? 6 Common Reasons” by BestForPets (bestforpets.org) has explained to you the reason behind your dog funny’s (to you) behavior, so you can understand your furry buddy even better.

Author Image

Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher


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