The 5 senses of the dog: what are they?

If the dog is an animal endowed with the five senses of sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste, these are not developed as in humans. His sense of smell and his hearing are indeed clearly superior to ours, but this is not the case for the other senses. Moreover, it should be noted that these different senses do not work as in humans, which is why they present our doggie friends with very specific specificities. And that’s not all, because scientists have detected other senses in dogs that we are going to reveal to you in this file.

The smell

The sense of smell in dogs is a very developed sense, moreover the animal is known to have a powerful flair. Indeed, by way of comparison, if humans have an average of 5 million olfactory cells in their brain, dogs have nearly 200 million, or 130 cm² of area for their olfactory receptors, compared to only 3 cm² for humans. In addition, a dog is able to detect an odor 1 million times smaller than those that humans can perceive. Of course, these abilities and skills vary somewhat between races and individuals.

Let’s not forget, moreover, that our doggie friends have an additional organ, called Jacobson’s organ or vomeronasal organ. Located in the upper palace and connected to its museum by two channels, it allows odors to be analyzed – including the weakest ones – with incomparable precision. And it is not so tenacious that it lasts, allowing the dog to detect a trail of several days and to differentiate odors among many others on the same object.

The sense of smell has the particularity of being present throughout the dog’s life. Indeed, the animal is born blind and deaf, and it is by the smell that it identifies its mother. At the end of life, his sense of smell is still present – ​​although it has diminished – while he may have lost other senses.

The dog’s sense of smell is thus a developed sense, but also very useful. It allows him to identify his master and his home, to recognize his diet, but also, and above all, to communicate with his congeners by broadcasting messages and interpreting those emitted by others with a very great diversity, in particular via the pheromones secreted. by the anal, circumanal, auricular, vaginal, tail and paw glands. The dog is thus able to perceive a whole panel of emotions and feelings through the pheromones diffused in this context. He can thus identify joy, appeasement and well-being, but also stress, fear and anger in humans as in his congeners. The doggies would even be able to decelerate certain diseases, such as cancer, via the smell of a patient’s breath!

The power of the canine sense of smell largely explains why humans have used animals for centuries, especially more recently to find people (disappeared, hidden, deceased, buried, etc.), narcotics, explosives, truffles, etc. This great olfactory finesse thus makes certain attempts to “cheat” your animal difficult. Thus, it can be difficult to hide a food medicine in its without it being detected or even to give a bath to the dog without it delighting to roll on the floor as soon as it is dry to get rid of this smell – yet pleasant – which is not his.

As you will have understood, the sense of smell is a highly developed sense in dogs, which is why walks are a source of interrupted stimuli for him. Allow your little companion to satisfy his needs by sniffing to smell all the smells that attract him during your outings. In comparison, smell in dogs corresponds to sight in humans, because it is the sense that the pooch uses to describe and understand the world around him. Smelling is therefore a need and a pleasure for the dog, just as we have that of observing the world and the wonders that surround us. Let him enjoy it.


The dog is also endowed with a hearing of great finesse. In comparison, it is about six times greater than the hearing capacity of humans. Our friends the doggies can thus perceive sounds over distances four times greater than humans, on average, and the mobility of their ears is ideal for facilitating the rapidity of perception and localization of sounds. Dogs are also able to perceive ultrasound, frequencies far too high for the human ear. Indeed, if we perceive a frequency of up to 18,000 Hertz on average, the dog perceives up to 50,000 Hertz!

These capacities are due in particular to the particular anatomy of the canine ear. Indeed, it consists of a pavilion covered with epidermis and hair. It is mobile in order to orient itself towards the perceived sound. The pavilion of the ear is the outer part, which is extended by a long auditory canal (middle ear) ends on the eardrum (inner ear), a very thin membrane. It should be noted that each ear is independent, which allows them to orient themselves more easily. Also, whether a dog has dressed or floppy ears, their hearing will be excellent.

A dog’s hearing is essential for communication between humans and animals. Indeed, our doggie friends can identify voice variations, tones and distinguish words to facilitate understanding. It is therefore a sense that turns out to be an excellent communication tool. Moreover, it is very useful to prevent dangers.


Sight is a slightly less developed sense in dogs than in humans. Nevertheless, our friends the doggies acquire all their visual faculties around the age of three months. They perceive a range of varied colors which, although less extensive than in humans, is not limited to black and white, contrary to popular belief. Their retina demonstrates that the perceived spectrum extends from yellow to blue, making red invisible to the animal and complicating the visibility of hues ranging from yellow to red. It also detects fewer shades of color than humans.

A dog can very well pick up gestures made by its master at a long distance (800 meters to 1,000 meters), while its ability to perceive fixed objects is six times lower than that of humans. He is also able to see at night thanks to a high concentration of cells on the retina, due to a better perception of light intensity, but he is far from equaling the cat in matter. In addition, it has a wider field of vision, namely 270° on average, compared to 180° for humans. However, his monocular field of vision being superior to that of a man and his binocular field inferior, his gaze is much more forward-directed and focused.

The muscles surrounding the eye allow movement in all directions. The dog has a lower eyelid and an upper eyelid, equipped with eyelashes, to protect the eye from external aggressions, as well as a third eyelid, like in the cat, invisible, but present at the level of the internal angle.


Taste is also much less developed in dogs than in humans. If we have retained 9,000 to 10,000 taste buds against 1,700 for the animal, this difference does not pose a problem for it, because taste is not the most useful sense to it. Indeed, to recognize its food and appreciate it, the dog uses above all its sense of smell.

The dog has taste buds on the tongue, but also in the palate and larynx. Note however that the animal does not take pleasure in tasting and chewing its food, it prefers to swallow it directly whole! The taste is therefore of no great interest to him.


Dogs have real sensitivity in their paws. However, unlike humans, it is not the skin that allows information to be conveyed to the brain, but the hairs, the maxillary hairs, the whiskers or mustaches, the eyebrows and the pads. It is thanks to these different elements and their vibrations that the dog can locate itself in space. The whole or perceives heat, cold, pain and sensitivity to certain external surfaces very well, but the sense of touch remains less developed than in humans.

The different organs of touch are:

  • the pads, which send it information about the surfaces on which it moves;
  • the skin, which informs it of the sensations of hot, cold, pain, humidity, wetness, etc. ;
  • the vibrissae, which allow the dog to perceive the space around it, in particular through the position of its head, to define its position within it, but also the shape of objects or their texture;
  • the nose, which allows him to smell objects (by contact and through smell), especially his mother’s udder when he is a young puppy.

Puppies have a long need to snuggle up and touch each other on different occasions, a need that continues as they grow and can also have hierarchical importance. Physical contact, through touch, is indeed essential for the dog. It is for this reason that he appreciates the caress, but only in certain places. Indeed, we avoid the top of the head, which signifies a desire for domination, and we prefer the neck for appeasement and the flanks for stimulation. Beware of caresses on the chest and belly, which can sometimes be perceived by the animal as sexual stimulation.

The dog’s other senses

If we have mentioned the five main senses of the dog, canine specialists identify other senses which come from the combination of several common senses.

Some scientists associate smell and taste because they are two tools for perceiving chemical molecules. Indeed, the dog uses both the truffle and the tongue to perceive odors, which is why it will both taste and smell food.

In addition, specialists identify several forms of touch in dogs, based on the observation of nerve pathways. They thus distinguish the following four types of touch:

  • somethesiswhich consists in perceiving contacts;
  • nociceptionwhich consists in perceiving pain;
  • enteroceptionwhich is related to the sensitivity of the internal organs;
  • proprioceptionwhich allows the animal to locate itself in space.

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