The Surprising Facts About What Dogs Can Taste

If you’re used to seeing dog food advertisements, you likely think that a dog’s sense of taste is very highly refined. That couldn’t be further from the truth. A dog’s sense of taste is much less discriminating than that of humans. In fact, while humans have roughly 9,000 taste buds, dogs only have around 1,700. That said, it doesn’t mean that dogs don’t taste anything at all. They actually have some unique features that humans don’t have. While they have the basic four taste classifications that humans do — sweet, sour, salty and bitter — they have special taste buds geared specifically for water. Cats and other carnivores have these taste buds as well, but they’re not found in humans. The special taste buds are found at the tip of the tongue where it curls as the animal laps water, and they’re more sensitive after the animal eats salty or sugary foods. The theory behind this is that animals in the wild need more water after eating foods that may dehydrate them. Unlike humans and other animals, dogs don't have an affinity for salt, but they do have a liking for sweet flavors. So, if dogs can taste, why is it that they’ll eat anything from prime rib to garbage? The answer has to do with smell. A dog’s sense of smell is up to a million times stronger than a human’s sense of smell. Since dogs actually taste food through their sense of smell, they’re more interested in foods that smell stronger. That’s why canned foods are more enticing to them. The bottom line is that dogs just aren’t very picky about the foods they eat, as long as they smell good.