Do Dogs Have Taste Buds?


Taste is one of the primary sensations important in the developing canine. But, do dogs have similar taste buds to our own? Read our Holidays4Dogs article to find out.


Many experts believe taste has an evolutionary function. Animals need to detect the difference between toxic foods and those safe to digest. Human beings, surprisingly, have far more taste buds than a dog – 9,000 in fact, compared to just 1,700 in dogs.

Sweet, salt, sour, bitter.

People are generally known to have four basic taste sensations – sweet, salt, sour and bitter. It is thought that dogs have taste receptors which respond in a similar way to those in humans. There is one difference with this. Dogs are much less sensitive to the taste of salt.

Since dogs are primarily meat eaters, (which already contains a lot of sodium) it is not necessary for them – in the evolutionary sense – to seek out the need for salt.

Dogs have taste buds that help them to seek out chemicals in meat and fats. Dogs are also quite partial to sweet flavours. Since dogs are classified as omnivores, they do not eat meat exclusively, but historically supplement their diet with fruit.

The chemical furaneol, which triggers the sweet taste response, is found in many fruits and also tomatoes.  Cats, on the other hand, are pretty much oblivious to this taste receptor.

A bitter pill.

kennel coughDogs find bitter tastes disagreeable. This is why some people use ‘bitter sprays’ to help discourage dogs from chewing household items.

The only problem with this approach, is that the bitter taste receptors in the dog are located at the very back of the tongue.

Therefore, they only generally only work once the dog is already well underway with his chewing!

Interestingly, dogs have taste buds which are tuned for the taste of chemicals found in water. The receptor is located at the very top of their tongues – humans do not have this particular taste function. Due to the high sodium content in meat, dogs must be able to detect water in order to balance internal fluids.

Although dogs can’t taste as well as humans, their sense of smell is much better. A dog’s sense of smell very much works alongside their sense of taste. Smelling helps them to taste.

If something smells pungently good to a dog, he probably thinks its going to taste good too. This may explain why some dogs partake in eating non-foods and things we would regard as totally revolting!


Dogs definitely have a sense of taste, but they are not quite so discerning as humans when it comes to a sophisticated culinary palate. However, most dogs will have a preference for their favourite treats and they will be able to smell them, long before they get to taste them!