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Did you know that human beings can identify their dog by smell alone?

One of the most remarkable abilities that canines possess is their sense of smell. When it comes to smell, dogs are highly talented and have the power to detect and recognize scents.

Using this unique ability, humans have used dogs to differentiate between scents in multiple ways. They have used pups to trace people, animals, explosives, and even drugs. In fact, it’s safe to say that dogs are one of the most powerful tools that law enforcement agencies use to hunt potential risks down.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, dogs were also used to smell people and differentiate those who have the virus from those who don’t. Compared to humans’ 5 million olfactory receptors, dogs have 225 million receptors in their noses. This, obviously, can vary from breed to breed.

Comparing our sense of smell to dogs, ours doesn’t seem much, does it? But, human noses are not so bad!

Humans and their sense of smell

While dogs do have an exceptional ability of being able to detect odors, so do human beings. Dogs’ noses are one thousand times more sensitive than human beings, and the way that we perceive scents versus dogs is also certainly different.

For us, odors are registered automatically. But, they may register an emotional response in some cases. Under special circumstances, if humans are asked to recognize scents of living things, they can accurately do so!

As opposed to dogs, humans’ sense of smell is considered the least important out of all the other senses, but it actually plays a fundamental role in our everyday life. In social life, our ability to smell and identify can actually play a key part. Every individual has a different odor, which is influenced by many factors.

Our scent also changes when we are sick, or in a vulnerable emotional state. The way we smell can actually play an important role in making friends, this is why people empty bank accounts on expensive perfumes and deodorants.

Recognizing others

Humans can identify family members and other individuals through scent. In fact, women can also categorize the age of people by their scent, they can divide them into groups of infants, children, and adults, etc.

As dogs live with us, they become a part of our family. They become an important part of our family, so it would be fair to assume that we can also identify them through their odor.

To put this to the test, researchers at the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague made a list of around 53 dog owners.

They used sterile gauze pads and rubbed each dog down, and these pads were put in separate jars with lids.

The experiment

Then, human beings were put to test. For each trial, six jars were placed in a lineup in front of the humans participating. One of these jars had the scent of the participant’s dog. In this experiment, neither the participants nor the organizers knew which jar the dog’s scent was in.

Humans were given the liberty to sniff for as long as they want and as many times as they’d like. Then, they had to tell the jar in which they thought their dog’s scent was.

Sounds tough? You’d be surprised to know that the participants’ ability to smell was really efficient. Nine out of ten men were able to accurately identify their dog’s scent. On the other hand, two out of three women were also able to tell which of the pads was their dog’s.

There were other factors that made a difference in this experiment. It appeared that dogs who were spayed were easier to identify. Similarly, outdoor dogs were easier to identify as well. The reason behind this was that if you live with your dog indoors all the time, it is possible that you can get used to the scent and develop factory fatigue. This means that your receptors adapt to the scent.

Another thing that was shocking in this experiment was that dogs that were fed dry food were easily identified as compared to those dogs that were fed raw meat. The explanation issued behind this phenomenon was that majority of their sample was women. Studies have shown that women prefer the odor of men who eat plant-based diets, this could also be a reason why they responded the way they did.

Another factor was age. Obviously, younger participants were better able to identify their dogs than those who were older.


Altogether, this was an interesting finding. People have often downplayed their sense of ability when it is not like that. It is fair to assume that while human beings’ sense of smell is not as exceptional as that of dogs, it is good enough.

The experiment was a fascinating one. It showed that human beings can identify those that they love just through the power of smell alone. Dogs are amazing creatures, and as we spend time with them, we grow attached to them.

Hence, many humans consider their pets to be their family. They are sensitive in their matters and loving towards them. No wonder that humans can identify which dog is theirs just by smell alone.

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