Do Dogs Feel Disgust

Categories: Dog Emotions
By Kerry Anderson

Do dogs feel disgust? And, to what extent do dogs communicate disgust? In her book, For the Love of a Dog, Patricia McConnell suggests that dogs do feel disgust. And, that if you watch him closely enough, you can see your own dog communicate disgust with facial expressions and body language similar to your own! Curious to see the look of disgust that McConnell describes, I put my own dogs up to the challenge.

McConnell suggests that if you would like to experience the look of disgust on your own dog’s face, simply hold up a bottle of flowery perfume to her nose. Not a perfume wearer myself, I searched my bathroom to find some scents that my dogs might find repulsive. My list included a vanilla scented body spray, my underarm deodorant, a lightly scented insect repellant, and a “natural” scented hair gel.

I didn’t have an elaborate plan. I simply held each product to each dog’s nose, made a mental note of their responses, and tried to capture a photo. Here is what I found. Olive stood still when presented with a scent. However, the top of her lip curled up a bit—just enough to say, “Ewww” while the rest of her face seemed to say, “Are we done, yet?” Bear, on the other hand, wanted absolutely nothing to do with these scents. He continually turned his entire body away each time he was presented with a new smell. If Bear could speak he would probably have said, “Me smell that? Not a chance, lady!”
Although not very scientific, this little experiment satisfied my curiosity. My dogs were clearly disgusted by the smells I forced upon them. The big question now is, since I wear these products on my own body, are my dogs disgusted by the scent of me? Moreover, are they disgusted by their own scent after I bathe them with a sweet smelling shampoo? What do you think?