Can Dogs Taste Crunchy Food?

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Introduction

People love their crunchy snacks! Whether sweet or savory, there is great joy in chomping on chips, fried chicken, cookies, crackers and nuts. Our senses of taste, smell and hearing augment the pleasurable experience of smacking on crunch. 

When we think about the foods and treats we give to our dogs, there is plenty of crunch in the munch. Many dog foods are dry and crunchy. Dog cookies and purchased dog bones made of grain are also crunchy pleasures for our dogs. When your dog is begging for food, is it the crunch being craved or are there other pleasures to the experience?

Signs Your Dog Likes Crunch

Your dog has to rely on you for the resources that will provide food, water, shelter, exercise and safety. As the owner, it is your responsibility to be astute to your dog's needs and to be attuned to the signs your dog sends to you as to needs, wants, and general well being. 

When it comes to preferences in food, your dog does not have words to describe the taste experience. You will need to infer the tastes of your dog from behavior and consider how your training and decisions may also play a role in your dog's dining experience. If your dog has a hankering for crunchy food, it won't take you long to notice.

If you are eating near your dog, you may feel like you are being stared at, but when you look at your dog, the pet will look away. Your dog is staring at your food because your dog is naturally alert to food sources. When your dog looks away, this is a sign of submissiveness. These are actually appropriate behaviors for your dog to show when you are eating. 

When your dog is begging, watch the ears. You may see the ears move and point forward then move to the back of the head, nearly touching as if the dog is asking, "Yes? or No?". The dog may be expressing some anticipation yet confusion as to whether or not you will be providing the desired object, food. 


Some dogs will do a little dance when they are begging. A dog that is a little more forward with the owner may even nudge or bark at the owner to provide the treat. If the treat is being delayed, your dog may even stare at the food and whimper. 

Body Language

If your pooch is into what you're eating, watch for:
  • Staring
  • Whimpering
  • Averting eyes
  • Ears back
  • Ears up

Other Signs

More signs that your dog likes crunchy stuff include:
  • Spending extra time smelling it
  • Seeking that specific food out
  • Gnawing on the food first

The History of Dogs' Taste Senses

Taste is an important sense for all mammals. It is the sense of taste that warns of potentially dangerous substances in the wild. Similarly, dogs evolved tastes that help them to prefer water and substances that will support their nutrition and health. 

Like humans, dogs can taste sweet, bitter, sour, and salt. Humans have a more refined sense of taste than dogs. Humans have 9000 taste receptors while dogs have only 1700 taste receptors on their tongues. While dogs can detect the same tastes as humans, their taste is different. 

In the wild, the majority of food is meat, which is high in salt content. Since a high intake of salt has, in evolutionary terms, been most prevalent in the diet, dogs do not prefer salty items. 

They also have special receptors for water that are located in the front of the tongue, in the area where their tongues cup to lap water. The incredible sense of smell plays a role in the taste capacity of the dog. Scent certainly contributes to their ability to locate food and to experience taste.

The Science of Crunchy Food

Dogs are omnivores. This means that while meat is prominent in the diet, they will also eat fruits in the wild. There is a science to dog food and much research that goes into the development of dog food formulas that will support your pet to have a healthy and balanced diet. Dog food researchers have studied the pros and cons to wet versus dry or crunchy dog food in terms of taste, dental health and overall health of the animal.

A number of factors are important when thinking about dog food. First is smell. Dogs will prefer foods that smell good to them. They also prefer food that is fresh. Old food loses it's nutrients and flavor. Dogs do not like salty foods but they do like sweet flavors. 

When it comes to wet versus dry texture, there is not really a taste difference. Preferences may be more an outcome of early feeding experiences, the range of foods offered by owners, and the health of the dog. Wet foods may be preferred for dogs having health issues. Some dogs will need wet foods to deal with digestive issues, needs for more water intake or poor dental health. 

Dry food offers convenience to owners as the food will last when opened or left out. If the dog's diet is predominantly dry food, the owner will need to be mindful of the protein levels in the dry food and ensure the dog has sufficient water supplies. Your dog will have the best taste associated with crunchy foods if the food is fresh.

Training Your Dog to be a Good Eater

Good eating habits are learned. As the owner, it is our responsibility to teach our dogs to have good eating manners and feeding behaviors. Nobody likes a pampered pup who has picky eating behaviors and bullies the owner into sharing foods that make the dog fat, spoiled and unhappy. 

Teach good eating habits when the dog is still a pup. Young puppies, less than 4 months of age, need to be fed 3 times a day. After the age of 4 months, the dog only needs to be fed twice a day. 

Place the food into the bowl and leave it out for 20 minutes, then take the food away. Your dog will learn to eat when the food is offered. If your dog has an issue requiring a change in diet, do not make a sudden change in the food. Add the new food into the bowl with the familiar food, gradually increasing the new while decreasing the former food. 

Some trainers believe that people should eat before the dog as a demonstration of leadership. Teach your dog to go lay down on a mat or rug while you are eating your food. Do not share your table food with your dog. While it might seem tempting to share and let your dog beg, you are reinforcing nuisance behaviors, bad manners, and possibly, introducing foods that are not good for your dog. Treat your dog, mealtime, and foods with respect and responsibility.

Safety Tips When Feeding Your Dog:

  • Do not feed your dog salty human foods, like chips.
  • Crunchy milk bones may help clean teeth but do not replace brushing.
  • Feed your dog fresh food.
  • Keep opened foods in sealed containers.
  • Store foods where your dog will not get into it and binge.

We Want to Hear About Your Dog's Love of Crunchy Food!