We need to talk about the very specific smell of dog's feet. Immediately.


There are precisely two types of dog owners. Ones who admit they’ve sniffed their dog’s feet, and liars.

You don’t remember how it first happened, of course. Maybe you were cuddling them in bed (which they’re definitely not allowed in) or you were curled up on their mat whispering “I love you,” into their little silly ears.

In one way or another, you found yourself sniffing their feet/s, and thought: “Oh, darling. Your foot smells like popcorn. But also a little bit like corn chips.”

And deep down, they know.

No wonder they’re always chewing their feet… they smell like very enjoyable snack foods. How confusing for them. 

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Every few months you get another whiff. Yep. Still smells like popcorn.


Do they have a secret popcorn/corn chip stash that they tuck into late at night? And eat with all four feet? Probably. But that’s not the official reason.

Heather Chee, a Behavioural Veterinarian, told Mamamia, “It’s related to the microbial population of the feet.”


As a side note, we respect that Chee also called them feet rather than ‘paws’.

“Dogs have sweat glands called eccrine glands on the pads of their paws and on their noses, which help keep these areas moist and functioning properly,” she explained.

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“On the paw pads, natural micro-organisms including yeast and bacteria live in the surface layers and contribute to the paws typical smell. Some dogs’ feet will smell more than others and it depends on the number, balance and type of the microbes living there. Some yeast and bacteria such as Proteus are thought to emit a sweet smell while the bacteria Pseudomonas is a little fruitier.

“Because dogs’ feet are hairy and can trap moisture, these areas can be the perfect breeding ground for infections especially if dogs are licking excessively or have skin or allergic conditions,” she added.

“If people are concerned about the smell of their of their dog’s feet, they should seek veterinary advice,” Chee concluded which sounds very sensible.

The natural dog smell is said to be more prominent near their ears and paws, according to Susan Heim, an expert in pet odours.

So if you haven’t in a while, go and give your dog’s feet a good old sniff.

And tell me it doesn’t smell exactly like popcorn.