Dog waiting by door to greet owner

Key takeaway

Dogs sniff people’s crotches because of the sweat glands, also known as apocrine glands, that are located there. Sniffing these glands gives a dog information about a person such as their age, sex, mood, and mating probability.

Why Do Dogs Smell Your Crotch?

There’s nothing more embarrassing than introducing your dog to a new group of people and them proceeding to sniff between every guest’s legs. It’s not uncommon to see your dog smelling your and other people’s crotch from time to time, but it sure is uncomfortable, and it probably has you wondering, “why do dogs want to smell your crotch?”.

The answer is actually quite simple. The reason your dog is smelling your crotch has to do with your sweat glands, specifically your apocrine glands. These glands release pheromones that your dog smells in order to gather information about another mammal. These pheromones convey all sorts of information to a dog, including age, sex, mood, and if that mammal can mate.1 

This is also why you often see dogs smelling each other’s rear ends. Dogs have apocrine glands all over their body, but mostly near their genitals and anus. A human’s apocrine glands are located in their armpits and genitals, hence why your dog smells your crotch– because they essentially want to learn more about you. 

In this article, we’ll be answering various questions about your dog’s nose, such as “why do dogs smell your crotch?”, “how do you prevent your dog from sniffing people’s crotches?”, and more. 

Dogs can have over 100 million scent receptors in their noses

Dog Nose Facts: Why Dogs Smell Your Crotch 

Your dog uses their nose for a lot more than just smelling food. In fact, dogs can have over 100 million scent receptors in their noses that they can use for a myriad of reasons. Dogs smell everything – their food, your guests, other animals. But they’re not just smelling for fun. There’s a reason why your dog seems to know so much, and it’s because of their nose.2

Dogs use their noses to communicate and gather information. This is also why dogs are often used to protect humans – because their noses can detect much more than a human’s can. Dogs are used by law enforcement and the military to detect drugs and bombs. They’re used by investigators because they can track someone by their scent. Dogs are even sometimes used by archeologists because they can detect human remains. 

So, why do dogs always smell between your legs?  It’s because they’re curious to find out more about you!

A dog’s nose is pretty powerful, and that’s part of the reason why they’re so attracted to people's crotches.

There are several reasons why dogs smell your crotch, including:

  • They’re greeting you: Some dogs will sniff your groin just as a way of saying hello.
  • To gather information: Often, a dog sniffing you is sort of like a background check. A dog can gather a lot of information by smelling someone’s crotch, including their age, sex, and mood.
  • Their scent receptors: Because a dog has so many scent receptors, they have a much more sensitive sense of smell, which can cause them to be attracted to more sweaty areas of the body.
  • Their natural instinct: It’s instinctual in a dog to smell other mammals’ crotches and rectal areas, so by smelling yours, they’re just following their natural instincts. 

Dogs are also more attracted to certain people’s crotches, like people who recently had sexual intercourse, are menstruating, or recently gave birth. That’s because all of these people are producing more pheromones than normal, which naturally causes a dog to be more interested in a sniff. A dog may even be able to tell when a human is ovulating simply because of these pheromones. 

Prevention tips to keep dog from smelling your crotch

How Do You Prevent Your Dog From Sniffing Peoples’ Crotches?

There’s no denying that your dog smelling between someone’s legs is embarrassing, which is why you’re probably looking to find a way to stop them. Your dog sniffing crotches is nothing to be alarmed about, but it can certainly make a situation uncomfortable, especially with a new guest. 

So, if you’re going to be introducing your dog to someone new, tell them to greet your dog with their hand. This gives your dog the opportunity to sniff their hand, rather than going straight for their crotch. Plus, your dog can still gather information about the person by sniffing their hand.

Another way to prevent your dog from sniffing peoples’ crotches is by training them to sit and stay whenever they meet a new person. You can also keep them distracted by giving them treats. You essentially just want to train them to stop going directly for the crotch when you introduce them to new people.

The last thing you want is for your dog to become a frequent groin sniffer, so it’s a good idea to implement these strategies as early on as possible. You can also teach your dog to “target” your fist as a way of stopping them from smelling unwanted areas. To do this, you just have to present your fist to your dog and then reward them with a treat or praise when they move towards it. Keep practicing this motion until your dog is actually able to touch their nose to your fist when you present it to them. You can then attach a phrase to this action, like “touch” or “target”.

Teaching your dog this trick will help to stop them from smelling elsewhere because they’ll be too distracted by your fist. Make sure they know how to do this behavior both at home and in public. You can also ask your friends to practice this with your dog so they can get the hang of following the cue with other people.

But just because you don’t want your dog sniffing peoples’ crotches doesn’t mean you should stop letting them explore with their noses. You should still give your dog plenty of opportunities to explore with their nose and gather information about other people/animals. 

There are a couple of ways you can do this. When you go on walks with your dog, let them go off and sniff around on their own. You can also try playing scent related games with them, which is called scent work.

Scent work is essentially training your dog to recognize a scent and communicate that they found that scent to their owner. Scent work training is typically used with law enforcement or the military so a dog can detect narcotics or explosives, but it can also just be done at home. Scent work allows your dog to engage their senses in a way that is safe and fun. It’s also a great way to strengthen the relationship between you and your dog.

Frequently Asked Questions

To help you get a better idea of why dogs smell your crotch, here are some frequently asked questions.

Is it normal for a dog to sniff your crotch?

Yes, although it might be awkward, it’s completely normal for a dog to sniff your crotch. Dogs rely heavily on their noses and have a much more sensitive sense of smell than humans, so they’re naturally more attracted to sweaty parts of the body, like the groin area. 

A dog will sniff your crotch simply because they are curious about you and want to learn more about your age, sex, and mood. There are training techniques you can use to discourage your dog from doing this but it is a natural thing for them to do. 

What should you do if a dog sniffs your crotch?

There are various strategies that you can use if your dog keeps sniffing between your legs. One of the best ways to prevent your dog from sniffing peoples’ crotches is by teaching them to target your fist. With this technique, you’re essentially teaching your dog to smell your extended fist to gather information about you. 

Why do dogs sniff each other’s rear ends?

It’s very common to see dogs sniffing each other’s rear ends. This is because a dog’s apocrine glands are located in their anus, so dogs will smell each other’s rear ends as a way of gathering information about one another. By sniffing another dog’s rear end, a dog can tell their diet, gender, emotional state, and more. This is why you’ll often see dogs doing this when they first meet each other because they’re trying to gauge if they’ll get along.

Why do dogs sniff everything?

Dogs are curious creatures, and because of that, they will often sniff everything in sight. But the reason why dogs seemingly sniff everything comes down to the fact they have a much more powerful sense of smell than we do. Certain dog breeds have over 100 million scent receptors, so you can only imagine how much they can smell at any given moment. A dog will smell to greet people, to transmit information, or even just for enjoyment. 

Owner petting dog after arriving home

Final Notes

It’s definitely embarrassing to see your dog sniffing your and other peoples’ crotches, but it’s also important to remind yourself that it’s completely normal. Your dog is just curious and is trying to learn information about you! Fortunately, there are several ways you can stop your dog from sniffing peoples’ crotches and teach them better, less embarrassing ways to gather information about people, like by sniffing people’s hands instead.

If you’re struggling with how to stop your dog from smelling peoples’ crotches, it might be a good idea to take things up with a vet so you can make sure everything is okay with your dog, and you can use Dutch.com to get in contact with one. 

Dutch.com is an online telehealth service for pets where pet owners can get connected with licensed veterinarians right from home. Dutch partners with a network of highly qualified vets who are trained to diagnose and treat an assortment of pet health conditions. 

To get started with Dutch, you just have to sign up online and you’ll be connected with a vet who will help you get to the bottom of your pet’s situation. And the best part of Dutch is that you’ll get any medication you’re prescribed delivered right to your door within 7 days.

References

  1. McAndrews, Mary Beth. “Why Does My Dog Sniff My Crotch? How to Curb a Dog's Scent Drive.” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 14 Sept. 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/dog-love-sniffing-human-crotches/.

  2. Reisen, Jan. “The Nose Knows: Is There Anything like a Dog's Nose?” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 21 July 2020, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/news/the-nose-knows/.