Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What the Ruff?!: The Butt Sniff

One of the most entertaining aspects of owning a dog is the fact that they have really weird, and correspondingly, really hilarious habits that are strange to us humans, but absolutely normal for canines. What the Ruff?! will be a series of strange dog behaviors decoded! The first, butt sniffing, is so prevalent and common to us dog owners that the sight of Fido's nose up another's rear end is no longer bizarre. But for those who have yet to bring a wet-nosed, silly ball of energy and crazy love into their lives...the butt sniff is still highly unusual and maybe even a little gross. The purpose of the sniff? To detail the other dog's sex, sex status, health, and temperament.

I don't mean to be too forward, but...

Contrary to popular to belief, the butt sniff isn't just to say hello. Sure, it's comparable to one of our handshakes, but the sniff along with mutual posturing conveys much more information

Hi Cyrus! :)

How? The rear end of every canine is equipped with anal glands that emit a really strong (and sometimes terrible) odor. This is why you should always opt yes when a grooming service offers gland expression. One of the reasons Fido's #2s smell so bad is because his anal glands (should) empty when he potties. But believe it or not, they do serve a purpose besides activating your gag reflex--they help communicate your dog's physiological status.

Hmm do I wanna be your friend?

Canine greetings aren't just limited to the butt sniff, though. Usually, in conjunction with the butt sniff, dogs go through a period of posturing toward each other. They may also sniff each other's muzzles. Dogs can analyze subtle changes in how high another dog holds his head or how his ears and tail are positioned to determine their status in the pecking order. It's incredible watching them size each other up before figuring out if it's okay to play.

I dunno. Do YOU wanna be MY friend?!

Thus, after a first meeting, two unacquainted dogs will figure out whether or not they want to be friends. If the other dog doesn't pass Fido's sniff test, don't worry. Not every dog wants to be friends with every other dog they meet. In this respect, dogs are a lot like us :). Trust your dog's instincts. Let him choose his own friends!

YES! Be my friend!
Let's play!


  1. I'm pretty sure this is how we met

  2. I'm glad humans don't sniff butts... don't want to know what the crap is up yours to be your friend ;)

  3. omg SOOOOOOO CUUTTTTTTTTTTEEE i wish i have a dog