What’s the Real Reason Dogs Sniff Each Other’s Behinds?

Ever wonder why dogs sniff each other’s behinds? It’s definitely not the way humans approach each other. People shake hands or wave hello. However, for dogs sniffing butts is normal behavior and expected. There is a scientific reason, a social reason, and some legendary explanations for why dogs sniff each other’s behinds. The reasons and the legends may surprise you and give your day a chuckle. Read further to find out more.

Dogs sniffing each other's behinds

Reasons Dogs Sniff Each Other’s Behinds

  • Greeting
  • Anal sac secretions
  • Native American legends

The Greeting – Sniffing each other is like a handshake and a hello. It’s a greeting between dogs. They immediately know if they are friend or foe.

Science – There are anal sacs on the sides of your dog’s butt with glands that secrete chemicals identifying a lot about your dog. Dogs have an excellent sense of smell and use it to communicate. A dog can tell the sex, reproductive status, and tips on the health, diet and emotional state of another dog from the scent.

Legends Why Dog Sniff Each Other’s Behinds

There is an old Sioux legend that offers another possibility…

A long time ago, the dogs decided to hold an election. They needed someone to lead them. A strong, swift and wise dog. They congregated at the big dog convention. A dog spoke up and nominated the bulldog. “I nominate the Bulldog. He’s tough and he can fight.”

“But he’s slow. He’ll never catch anyone.”

Then another dog spoke and nominated the greyhound. “I nominate the Greyhound. He’s fast as anything. He will outrun anyone.”

“Sure, he can run, but he can’t fight! What happens when he catches up to them? He’ll get beat up and then what happens? All he can do is run away. He is no leader.”

An ugly dog jumps up and says, “I nominate the dog who smells good under his tail!”

Another ugly little dog jumps up and says, “I second the motion!”

All of sudden, there is a huge commotion as everyone starts talking at once. All the dogs start sniffing each other’s tails.

“Eww, that smells terrible!”

“That one’s not good.”

“He’s not the people’s choice”

“Wow! This guy’s not my candidate.”

“Gross! That’s awful!”

It went on and on…

So, when you’re out walking, watch the dogs. They’re still looking for a leader. That’s why they still sniff each other’s behinds.

Leni Lenape Legend

The Leni Lenape or Delaware people are indigenous to the Northeastern woodlands of the United States and Canada. They have a legend that involves dancing.

While the humans slept one night, the dogs had a party. They would always take their tails off for the party to enjoy dancing. After dancing the entire night, they’d put their tails back on and go home to their humans.

One night a wolf came upon them and all the dogs, in a panic, grabbed a tail and dashed home to safety. In their haste, many of them took the wrong tail. They were afraid of the wolf, so they never partied and danced again. For the rest of their lives, they were stuck with the wrong tail.

Have you heard any other legends explaining why dogs sniff each other’s behinds?  

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