Can Dogs Smell Human Farts?

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Introduction

What's that smell? If you've just let one rip and the pungent aroma is about to send everyone else in the room scurrying for the exit, don't try blaming it on the dog.

Why? Well, thanks to her remarkable sense of smell, your pooch is incredibly well equipped to detect your invisible emission and point her paw at you as the guilty culprit. Dogs are sniffing machines with noses far more powerful than our own, so if you're wondering whether dogs can smell human farts, the answer is a big, stinky yes.

Let's take a closer look at why dogs are such spectacular sniffers and why they don't always have the same disgusted reaction to your farts as your human friends and family do.

Signs Your Dog Can Smell a Fart

If you think you've been getting away with slipping out the occasional fart without anyone noticing, think again. Your dog's sublime sense of smell is capable of picking up amazingly minute scents, and there are plenty of telltale signs that your pet has picked up the scent.

The classic indicator is a nose thrust into the air, sniffing this way and that as your pooch tries to track down where this new odor is coming from. Rapid inhalation and exhalation helps dogs cycle air through their nostrils and analyze what it is they're smelling, and your pooch may turn their head to follow the source of the smell. If it's an intriguing enough aroma, your furry friend may even get up to investigate, following their nose to find out exactly what's behind the scent.

However, not all dogs are as comfortable with human flatulence as others. Some pooches might find your odor so offensive that they head for the hills as soon as you... ahem... let fluffy off the chain. Of course, the response can vary widely between dogs and depending on the smell you've decided to share with the world, so it's worth remembering that dogs react to our farts in all sorts of ways.

Body Language

Signs your dog has picked up the scent of your fart include:
  • Staring
  • Alert
  • Head tilting
  • Sniffing
  • Raise ears

Other Signs

Other signs of a dog tracking a scent include:
  • Nose in the Air
  • Ignoring Your Commands
  • Head Moving to Follow a Scent
  • Rapid Inhalation and Exhalation
  • Moving Towards (or Away From) the Source

The History of Dogs' Sense of Smell

For wolves, the ancestors of modern domestic dogs, a strong sense of smell was a crucial tool. Whether hunting prey or detecting potential threats, the ability to analyze and identify scents from a long way away helped wolves survive and flourish in the wild.

Throughout the course of history, humans have also played an important role developing the sniffing power of our furry friends. Our selective breeding practices over the years were largely focused on producing dogs to act as hunters, guardians and retrievers, and a powerful sense of smell was essential for many of the roles we tasked canines with performing.

In the modern world, dogs and their noses can do some incredible things. Canines work with law enforcement agencies to sniff out everything from drugs, explosives and illegal items to fugitives on the run. The dog's sense of smell is also put to work in fields as diverse as sniffing out truffles or detecting prohibited agricultural products at the border. Studies have even shown that dogs have the ability to sniff out some forms of cancer in humans, and there are probably plenty of other remarkable uses for doggy noses that we're still yet to discover. Food for thought the next time you think about letting loose in your dog's airspace.

The Science of Dogs Smelling Farts

Let's get something out of the way first: if you can smell a fart with your nose, rest assured that your dog can definitely smell it too. How do we know this?

Well, there have been plenty of studies done on our furry friends and their next-level noses and they've revealed some astonishing facts. While us humans have around 5 or 6 million olfactory receptors in our noses, dogs have anywhere between 125 million and 300 million (depending on breed). If that's not enough, the portion of their brain devoted to analyzing smells is, from a proportional point of view, a massive 40 times bigger than our own.

This means that a dog's sense of smell is at least 10,000 times better than ours, and possibly even 100,000 times better. That's quite astonishing when you think about it, and really does show you that canines are very powerful four-legged sniffing machines.

With this in mind, if you've just dropped a smell powerful enough to bring down a herd of elephants, you shouldn't be surprised if your dog shows some indication that she's also noticed a change in the atmosphere.

Training Your Dog to Use Her Sense of Smell

Okay, so dogs can use their noses to detect the smells many of us would rather go unnoticed, but they can also rely on their sense of smell to pick up an extensive range of other odors. You can even encourage your dog to harness their powerful sniffing ability and enjoy plenty of mental stimulation at the same time by engaging in some scent training. 

For example, you could try teaching your dog to find an item that smells like you, or maybe set up a treasure hunt and encourage her to track down a treat, a favorite toy or even a person. You could even give your pooch a taste of tracking competitions, or introduce her to the sport of K9 nosework.

When training your dog to use her sense of smell, make sure you start slowly and give plenty of rewards when she does the right thing. Make sure she knows which scent you want her to find, as well as how to alert you when she's found it.

As your dog gets the hang of it, you can gradually build up to more advanced and challenging scent games, remembering to always remain patient and to never punish your pet for getting it wrong. With a little bit of practice, your dog will soon become adept at using her nose to sniff out a range of odors, all of which will hopefully be much more pleasant than your own gassy emissions.

How to Have Less Smelly Farts

  • Understand the anatomy of a fart. The average fart is 59% nitrogen, 21% hydrogen, 9% carbon dioxide, 7% methane and 4% oxygen. All of these are more or less odorless.
  • That distinctive fart smell mainly comes from hydrogen sulfide, which is produced from protein by gut bacteria.
  • Want to get rid of that distinctive rotten-egg smell? Try eating plenty of slow-release carbohydrates and cutting down on your protein consumption.

We Want to Hear About Your Dog's Ability to Smell Farts!