Can Dogs Smell Human Hormones?

  • Home >
  • The Daily Wag! >
  • Senses >
  • Can Dogs Smell Human Hormones?
0 Stories
0 Votes

Introduction

Inside your fur-baby's nose is up to 300 million olfactory receptors - receptors that help dogs (and also humans) sniff all sorts of odors and smells. 

We all know that dogs have an incredible sense of smell, allowing them to detect certain odors in parts per billion! So, how powerful is this sense of smell anyway? Are dogs able to, for instance, smell hormones in their human counterparts? Read on to find out!

Signs Your Dog can Smell Human Hormones

Dogs are very in-tune with their environments and their humans. While our behaviors may hint to our pups that something has changed, our dogs are fully capable of sniffing changes in our bodies as well. This may sound unbelievable, but our canine companions have the ability to sense changes in blood sugar levels, detect oncoming epileptic fits, narcolepsy, and allergic reactions, among many other incredible sensations. Because of this, dogs are now being trained as medical detection "assistants" in order to alert their handlers to a medical crisis before it happens! 

Like humans, dogs also exhibit changes in behavior when they smell something fishy. There are a number of signs you will be able to identify by analyzing your pup's behaviors if your pooch detects a hormonal change. 

For instance, a dog may raise its nose and tilt its head when trying to concentrate on sounds and smells in the environment around them. Or, a dog may be relaxed and alert. If intrigued by a new scent, expect a busy sniffer and a tail that is held high and not wagging. 

When us humans are feeling scared, mad, or sad, our bodies may produce certain hormones, such as adrenaline. So it should come as no surprise that dogs can smell scents from these hormones and other chemicals that are released throughout our bodies. Just be sure to look out for uncharacteristic behavior in your pup. Uncommon smells and changes in the environment may distress your loving pooch. If your dog becomes more vocal, agitated, or stressed, something might be off.

Body Language

Signs that your fur-baby can sense a hormonal change may include:
  • Growling
  • Alert
  • Barking
  • Head tilting
  • Whining
  • Tail up
  • Ears up

Other Signs

More cues that your pooch smells your hormones may include:
  • Agitation
  • Extra affection
  • Guarding the owner
  • Being extra protective

The History Behind Dogs Smelling Human Hormones

Through the process of domestication, our canine companions have become integrated into our households and are now true members of the family. Because of these intimate relationships that we have built with our pups, dogs have become much more sensitive to changes in their environments, human behaviors, and changes in the body chemistry of humans.  

Dogs are very astute animals and are able to observe what’s happening around us. For instance, when we are feeling stressed, it is very likely our dogs know. Our dogs know our habitual movements, expressions, and body language. Hormonal changes are often met with a lot of behavioral, emotional, and physical changes as well, giving our pups an extra hint that something may be a little off.

The Science Behind Dog Smelling Human Hormones

We, humans, have about 6 million olfactory receptors in our noses, allowing us to recognize thousands of different smells (both good and bad). Our furry counterparts, however, have up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, giving them the unique ability to have a powerful sense of smells. 

Even further, the brains of our dogs have a section that is solely devoted to analyzing smells - a part that is about 40 times larger in dogs than in human brains. Because of this, a dog’s sense of smell can be anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 times sharper than the human sense of smell! 

There is a common understanding with veterinarians and animal behaviorists that because dogs are highly sensitive to human behavior and hormones, dogs can detect changes in human hormones at a subconscious level. Dogs are very perceptive and are able to pick up on human changes in behavior very quickly. 

Further, they may be able to attribute these behavioral changes to hormonal changes that ebb and flow in our bodies. However, the idea that dogs can react to human scent, hormones, and changes in behavior is not a bizarre idea. Although studies have proven that dogs can detect cancer in people, researchers still don't fully understand exactly what chemical compounds and changes dogs are able to sense.  

We still have a way to go to discover exactly what dogs are smelling about us, let alone how we can train our dogs to recognize and identify these changes accurately. Although there is much to be studied and nothing is certain, dogs are, in fact, incredible creatures that do indeed have the ability to sense human hormones, which can hopefully be used to save lives in the future. However, one thing is certain: we don't deserve dogs!

Training Your Dog to Smell Hormones

A dog's ability to smell human hormones is a real and innate ability that either comes naturally to your pup or likely isn't present in them. Unfortunately, teaching our doggos the ability to smell hormones isn't something you can do by simply picking up a training handbook, especially since animal behaviorists are still trying to fully understand dogs' sense of smell themselves. 

As a start, you can train your canine companion to remain calm and focused under pressure, a skill that can take time and patience (along with a bunch of treats).  If you are truly set on training your pup, you can meet with a research organization or animal behaviorist to professionals to help them learn how to identify human hormones.

Safety Tips When Letting Your Dog Smell Hormones:

  • Reward your doggo for paw-sitive scent identification.
  • Encourage paw-sitive behaviors with either play time or treats.
  • Do not ignore your dog - you may miss something important.
  • Work with a trainer or animal behaviorist if you really want your pup to learn how to sniff hormonal changes.