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Can dogs taste?

Updated on February 18, 2012

It is a common knowledge that dogs have ultra sensitive scenting and hearing abilities. Dogs have super sensitive eyes as well. Dogs though have less developed sense of taste. Because dogs are indiscriminate eaters, there is a misconception that dogs cannot taste. Did you know that flavor is about 80% smell and only about 20% taste? Given the sensitive noses of dogs, these animals would definitely enjoy feasting on spoiled food from the trash can, on used socks an even on their own or other animal’s poops. This further explains the dog’s habit of eating edible and non-edible things that humans find abhorrent. Definitely, dogs can taste.

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A dog’s gustative receptors

We, humans have about nine thousand taste buds that give us a well developed sense of taste. This is the reason why humans are generally discriminating in what they eat.  A dog’s mouth has about one thousand seven hundred gustative receptors or taste buds. These taste buds are mainly located at the tip of the dog’s tongue. This lesser number of taste buds makes the dog less sensitive to taste. Apart from being food motivated, dogs are scavengers as well. Add the fact that these animals are less sensitive to taste. Would it be surprising if the dog eats spoiled food and non-edible matters? Dog owners need not take the trouble to provide the dog varied meals. The pet would be Ok with dry kibble as long as the owner does not forget to fill the bowl every day. Dogs have a huge appetite. However, there are instances when after sniffing the kibble and taking a small bite, the dog will turn away. This commonly happens when the dog has had a taste of human food. This only goes to show that dogs can indeed taste.

A dog’s nose rules

Dogs may be less sensitive when it comes to tasting the food they put in their mouth but dogs certainly have superior scenting abilities. Dogs fewer taste buds are fully compensated by the scent receptors that are more than 20 million. Similar to humans, dog use their noses to identify the food they are going to eat. Have you noticed how the dog would smell the food before taking the first bite? Because dogs love odors, the stronger the smell of the “food”, the more interesting it would be for the dogs. It is highly probable that a dog would receive more information about the food from the smell rather than from the taste.

Taste preference of dogs

Dogs are generally believed to be voracious eaters. Dogs are not picky eaters either. Dogs would eat anything – edible, non-edible as well as things that humans find disgusting. In spite of the fact that a dog’s sense of taste is less developed, Fido does have food preferences too. Similar to humans, dogs can taste salt, sweet, bitter, sour and savory. Dogs are generally believed to be carnivorous because they have more savory flavor receptors. Sweet and savory are preferred over bitter and sour. The taste preferences of dogs vary. Some would completely ignore fruits and vegetables. Other may have developed a taste for fruits. Majority of the dog though draw the line at eating sour and bitter substances. Sprays that have bitter taste are commonly used to stop the chewing habits of dogs.


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