Behaviour Post

Why do dogs sniff butts?
Let’s get straight to the point – dogs love butts! Specifically, sniffing each other’s butts! The act of butt sniffing in dogs is actually rather fascinating.

Butt sniffing is a very natural, normal behaviour amongst dogs. A butt sniff can be a dog’s way of saying ‘hello’, especially when they are first introduced. They use their powerful nose to absorb information about that dog from the pheromones in the anal glands (or apocrine gland). They can find out whether they’ve met before, their gender, age, reproductive status, diet, mood and even how healthy they are.

In some cases, especially in puppies, you may notice your dog getting a little too obsessive with their sniffing, causing the other dog to react. Teaching your dog an alternate greeting manner, like come, sit and stay, or walk away, before the sniffing gets out of control is advisable. If your dog is not much of a butt sniffer, there are a number of reasons why. Such as; preferring human company, not being interested in getting to know other dogs, doesn’t feel like socialising, had a bad experience in the past, suffering anxiety around other dogs or getting older and losing ability to smell.

When your dog meets a new human or you have a new dog meet you; they tend to sniff your crotch, rather than your butt. As awkward as it is, it is just the dog’s way of greeting and getting to know this new and fascinating person. No, we don’t have anal glands in our crotches that they are sniffing, but we do have apocrine glands in our groins and armpits. Interestingly, a dog is more likely to sniff a human’s crotch if that human is menstruating or has recently had a baby. Due to the apocrine glands emitting more pheromones than usual, and the dog wanting to understand why.

So now you have it… so many reasons why dogs sniff butts (and crotches). So why is it that we don’t sniff each other’s butts too??