Do Dogs have Taste Buds?

Do Dogs have Taste Buds?

Barbara Mary Hanly

As one of the primary senses, the taste is responsible for our enjoyment of food. From salty and sweet, to sour and bitter, our taste buds help us recognise and decide the flavour of the food we consume. 

But.. ever wondered if our dogs have taste buds too? Well, the answer is yes! Able to pick up tastes similar to us humans, the tongues of our four-legged friends are able to distinguish between tastes helping dogs to decide what flavours they fancy the most. 

So, if you want to know if your dog can distinguish between sweet and salty, delve into our world of just how amazing your dog’s taste buds can be. 

Dogs Taste Buds and Their Sense of Smell 

Did you know that humans have 9,000 taste buds in their mouths? Meaning we are able to pick up even the smallest of tastes - think about chefs being able to identify the smallest ingredients in a dish! 

Well, our dogs have lots of taste buds too but far fewer than that of a human. Our dogs only have around 1,700 taste buds on their tongue, but similar to us, they are able to identify sweet, salty, bitter and sour tastes. Despite the lack of taste buds between dogs and humans, dogs actually have some secret superpowers that we don't. 

Located at the front of the tongue, dogs are able to pick up the taste of water, like many carnivores, and their tongue curls making water easier to lap up. They also have taste buds at the back of their throat so dogs often taste their food as they gulp it down rather than chew. 

To make up for their sense of taste, their noses work a lot harder. With over 200 million olfactory senses in their noses, dogs can sense smells more than 100 times more than a human. Like us, dogs find better smells more appealing and dogs can actually taste their food from an incredibly special organ known as the vomeronasal organ. Ultimately, the combination of both allows our dogs to decide what food they will and won’t find the most appealing to eat. 

Can Dogs Taste Spicy, Sweet, Sour and Salty Food? 

Like us humans, dogs do have the ability to distinguish between specific tastes. Although, it isn't extremely clear what parts of your dog’s tongue pick up specific flavours more than others. However, it is known that our dogs absolutely adore sweet tastes and this taste bud is located at the back of your dog’s tongue hence their need to gulp down sweet treats like many fruits and even veggies. 

Much research has suggested that due to our dog’s natural consumption of meat, which is high in salt, dogs are less likely to pick up on salty foods as their bodies aren’t prone to wanting it. However, other studies have shown that our dogs are able to pick up salty foods just like their human counterparts. 

What Tastes Bad to Dogs

Ever seen your dog turn away or spit out food when offered? Well, this is their taste and olfactory buds at play. As dogs are able to pick up far more smells than we humans, their noses already know what their taste buds are going to dislike. 

Although it may not seem as if our pets are fussy eaters, here’s a list of all the foods your dog may be less likely to favour. 


Citrus fruits like lemons, oranges and grapefruits are often hated by dogs as citrus oils can irritate your dog’s throat and nasal cavity. However, this is apparent for all dogs. Our dog’s senses are extremely complicated and no one is 100% sure of foods they love and hate for one dog that hates the smell and taste of citrus there might be another that completely adores it. 


Spice is a flavour that many dogs hate beyond measure. Whether it is ground spices, peppers or anything with heat, our dogs generally despise it. This is because, as the same for us humans, the spice can create a tingling sensation and this is something our dog’s really don’t like. So, if you're a fan of a little extra kick in your curries - avoid giving your dog any form of spice or heat to avoid any upset both for their taste buds and their tummies. 


Like citrus fruits, foods that are bitter, such as some forms of green apple and cranberries can be off-putting to our pets unless mixed and masked by other foods. Cranberries and apples are excellent sources of antioxidants for our pets but work well when combined with sweet flavours such as yoghurts and veggies like sweet potato. 

Fresh Herbs

Freshly grown herbs are another taste and smell that our dogs tend to dislike. Herbs with heavy aromas such as rosemary, mint and basil are all herbs that your dog dislikes in the fresh form. Even for us humans, these herbs can be overpowering so imagine what it must be like to have a nose a million times more sensitive to ours. When feeding your dog fresh food, it is best to keep these ingredients to their cooked food rather than sprinkled on top. 

Can Dogs Taste?

Ultimately, our dogs have the ability to pick up the taste of food from both their sense of smell and taste buds. Recognising all foods from meat bones to sweet fruits, and giving your dog a balanced diet, helps to give their taste buds exactly what they want. 

Here at Soopa, we understand that our dogs love to feast on food with a plethora of flavours so with that in mind we created a brilliant bundle of all our flavours of healthy bites and dental sticks so your dog is far from bored with the same old flavour week on week. At a bargain price and 100% natural, purchasing some healthy and wholesome treats for your dog is exactly what their taste buds ordered this autumn.

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