Blog - Taste, Tongue and Teeth

The only sense that we have in abundance compared with our dog, is the sense of taste. We have a whopping 9,000’ish taste buds whereas the dog has only about 1,700.

Amazingly, but not surprising bearing in mind they are predators, dogs have finely tuned taste receptors in relation to meats and fats but, apparently, and I don’t know how they tested for it, are unable to distinguish subtle flavours which differentiate the different meats.

Like us, the dog can taste sweet, salty, sour, and bitter and, like other carnivores (humans excepted), dogs have special receptors for tasting water, which I find particularly interesting as when dogs drink, they use the underside of their tongue, curling it under into a flattish ladle, and then scooping the water into their mouth… one of the reasons why a narrow deep water bowl is better than a wide shallow one – that and it helps prevent the amount of water that ends up on the floor.

As well as scooping up water, the tongue is one of the main cooling systems for our dogs. Unlike us, dogs don’t sweat much and only release sweat through their pads, instead they pant, which allows them to release body heat and regulate their temperature. This is why when your dog has been running around or it’s warm, your dog’s tongue looks really long as it hangs out of his mouth, and the more tongue exposed, the hotter your dog.

The tongue is also used to grip food to push it to the back of the mouth. Dogs don’t chew their food the same way that we do, moving the food around from side to side, breaking it down into smaller pieces and starting the digestive process; rather they slice, crush, and ‘wolf it down’, as unlike us, nothing happens to their food until it hits their stomach.

It's not only the tongue that helps to move food down into the gullet, if you take a look at the roof of your dog’s mouth, you’ll see ridges sloping backwards which help keep the food moving from front to back.

And while you’re there you’ll see an amazing array of culinary knives, or perhaps weapons depending upon the situation the dog finds itself in. From the incisors at the front, used for stripping meat and grooming, to the canines used for holding and puncturing prey, the pre-molars for chewing and gnawing on bone, and the molars for crushing… everything about the dog’s mouth just screams predator.

An excerpt from Lez Graham’s new book The Well Mannered Dog, due for publication 1st March 2024.

Note: I used a wide shallow bowl in the video so you could really see the movement of the tongue against the white ceramic…

first published 7 February 2024

Blog - Taste, Tongue and Teeth

The only sense that we have in abundance compared with our dog, is the sense of taste. We have a whopping 9,000’ish taste buds whereas the dog has only about 1,700.

Amazingly, but not surprising bearing in mind they are predators, dogs have finely tuned taste receptors in relation to meats and fats but, apparently, and I don’t know how they tested for it, are unable to distinguish subtle flavours which differentiate the different meats.

Like us, the dog can taste sweet, salty, sour, and bitter and, like other carnivores (humans excepted), dogs have special receptors for tasting water, which I find particularly interesting as when dogs drink, they use the underside of their tongue, curling it under into a flattish ladle, and then scooping the water into their mouth… one of the reasons why a narrow deep water bowl is better than a wide shallow one – that and it helps prevent the amount of water that ends up on the floor.

As well as scooping up water, the tongue is one of the main cooling systems for our dogs. Unlike us, dogs don’t sweat much and only release sweat through their pads, instead they pant, which allows them to release body heat and regulate their temperature. This is why when your dog has been running around or it’s warm, your dog’s tongue looks really long as it hangs out of his mouth, and the more tongue exposed, the hotter your dog.

The tongue is also used to grip food to push it to the back of the mouth. Dogs don’t chew their food the same way that we do, moving the food around from side to side, breaking it down into smaller pieces and starting the digestive process; rather they slice, crush, and ‘wolf it down’, as unlike us, nothing happens to their food until it hits their stomach.

It's not only the tongue that helps to move food down into the gullet, if you take a look at the roof of your dog’s mouth, you’ll see ridges sloping backwards which help keep the food moving from front to back.

And while you’re there you’ll see an amazing array of culinary knives, or perhaps weapons depending upon the situation the dog finds itself in. From the incisors at the front, used for stripping meat and grooming, to the canines used for holding and puncturing prey, the pre-molars for chewing and gnawing on bone, and the molars for crushing… everything about the dog’s mouth just screams predator.

An excerpt from Lez Graham’s new book The Well Mannered Dog, due for publication 1st March 2024.

Note: I used a wide shallow bowl in the video so you could really see the movement of the tongue against the white ceramic…

the video below may take a few moments to load...

first published 7 February 2024