With dogs, it’s all about the power of the nose.

Stories detailing the amazing capabilities of a dog’s sense of smell continually appear in the news. Detection of various cancers? Check. Detection of bombs and explosives? Check. Detection of toxic mold and bed bugs? Check. Detection of wildlife ‘scat’ to aid wildlife conservation? Check. Detection of a can of cat food being opened while napping? Check!


But how about a dog’s sense of taste? Given the unusual and downright unappetizing things you’ve probably seen your dog eat (doggie ‘business’ and grass sandwiches, anyone?), you probably already know a dog’s sense of taste is not well developed. And it comes as no surprise. After all, a dog’s sense of smell is extraordinary, and a dog’s sense of hearing is excellent, so it would seem unusual that all of the senses of one particular species would be so highly developed.


Read on for interesting facts about your best friend’s sense of taste.

  • Dogs have about 1,700 taste buds in their mouths, while humans have about 9,000 and our feline friends, only around 470.

  • Although a dog’s sense of taste is the least developed of their senses, dogs are capable of detecting bitter, sweet, salty, and sour tastes. Humans and cats detect the same four, although it was previously believed cats could not taste sweets. In humans, a fifth taste called umami or ‘savory’ was recently recognized in the West as a basic taste, and a 1991 research study determined that dogs showed taste responses to “umami substances.”

  • A dog’s sense of taste and smell are considered to be closely linked, with dogs likely gathering more information about the food they eat from its smell versus taste.

  • Most of a dog’s taste buds are centered around the tip of the tongue.

  • Studies show a dog will avoid eating a particular food that has caused sickness in the past for a certain amount of time; it’s an instinctive protective mechanism.

  • Along with touch, taste is the only sense developed in dogs at birth.

  • The most abundant taste buds in dogs are those that respond to sugars or sweet tastes.

The Scoop:

Read about a cat’s sense of taste.


Thank you to Duo De Hale on flickr for the photo of Bayou.