ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Understanding a Dog's Sense of Taste

Updated on August 29, 2015

Dog food is often sprayed with emulsified fats and smoky meat flavorings to entice dogs

Watching a dog eagerly eat his meal in seconds may cause people to reasonably presume that dogs must have a keen sense of taste when compared to humans. Yet, this is untrue. Indeed, dogs surprisingly have about 1,700 taste buds when humans have about 9,000. By carefully observing a dog eating, it may be quite clear that dogs do not appear to really taste and enjoy each morsel of food, rather, they seem to simply gulp it down.

Eating fast and without paying much attention to flavor, is indeed a behavior that dates back to when the dog used to live in packs and hunted prey for survival. Since food at those times was not an every day luxury, it was quickly gulped down to prevent other dogs or other animals to take over. Yet, in a domestic setting, this instinct deeply ingrained in a dog's mind may still prevail, especially if the dog is forced to eat in close vicinity to other dogs, causing competition to kick in. Yet, some domestic dogs may slow down once they notice there's no threat.

Understanding a Dog's Sense of Taste

However, just because a dog eats fast doesn't mean that a dog cannot recognize flavors. Rather, the taste buds found on a dog's tongue have been found to be capable of distinguishing sweet, salty, bitter and sour flavors. Among these, dogs appear to be particularly sensitive to bitter flavors, for this reason, the well known ''bitter apple spray'' often prescribed in dogs to prevent them from licking wounds or to prevent them from chewing furniture is so effective. Yet, it seems like some difficulty in reaching those taste buds built to recognize bitter tastes may play a role in not making these bitter sprays as effective as thought. Indeed, those bitter-detecting taste buds are located towards the rearmost third of the tongue observes Stanley Coren.

With this in mind, dogs show to being able to discern pleasant from unpleasant foods and foods that are indifferent. For this reason, dogs may like a food more than another, while others may be downright picky. Smell of course, plays a role in detecting taste as well, as the two senses are connected: simply imagine how humans are unable to taste food when their nasal passages are stuffed and not working properly, as when dealing with a cold. So what smells good to a dog must taste good as well in their mind.

If you think your dog has a sweet tooth, you may be right in a certain way. Dogs are omnivores which means they eat other things other than meat. A canine's diet in the wild, encompassed meat but also the occasional berries and fruits which were somewhat sweet. However, dogs remain meat eaters at heart, since their diet in the wild comprised of 80% meat.

Dr. Katherine Houpt,a professor at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine has conducted some extensive research on the dog's sense of taste and has reported quite interesting findings. For instance, dogs appear to like meat the best with a liking of beef over pork, pork over lamb, lamb over chicken and the lowest ranking meat being horse meat..

It was also found that dogs appreciate some novelty in their dishes every now and then. Adding a few carrots at times may do the trick in turning a boring dog food into something interesting again. At times, adding a little something may be the secret in getting back on track a finicky eater.

Dogs and cats being hunters also seem to enjoy warm food. This dates again back to when they were hunting prey and it eating it when it is still warm. For this reason, warming up some dry kibble with some warm broth (with no onion or garlic in it which is bad for them) may turn a boring dish into an appetizing delight.

So there you have it. Dogs may not have the capability of sitting down and enjoying a meal as their human companions do, after all, this all starts to make sense. This explains ultimately why dogs are attracted to eating almost everything in sight, if they do not have much time to savor it, then why worry about the taste of it in the first place, especially if it smells interesting?


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)