Dogs waiting for dinner

Do Dogs Care What Their Food Tastes Like?

Maggie Marton | August 01, 2018

Does your little love muffin love the taste of muffins… and everything else for that matter? Or does your sweet pup turn up her nose at all but the finest?

Dogs do care what their food tastes like, but not in the same way you and I do.


Well, for starters, dogs only have 1,700 taste buds compared to our 9,000. (Interesting aside: Cats only have 470!) That means dogs have about one-sixth the tasting power that we have. 

Like us, dogs can taste sweet, salty, sour and bitter; but unlike us, they have a fifth set of taste buds specific to water. And dogs also have a set of taste buds dedicated to helping them find meat. 

According to a piece in Psychology Today: 

“In addition to sensors for sweet, salt, sour and bitter, dogs also have some specific taste receptors that are tuned for meats, fats and meat related chemicals. Dogs will tend to seek out, and clearly prefer the taste of things that contain meat or flavours extracted from meat.”

That might explain why even picky dogs tend to go gaga over canned food or toppers. 

And although dogs don’t crave salty snacks - probably because they get enough salt from the meat they eat - we do know that, like us, dogs crave sweet foods! 

Bottom line: Some dogs love all kinds of foods while other dogs are finicky eaters. Their tasting infrastructure is set up just like ours, and there’s no question that among people, some have stronger food preferences than others. 

Really, a dog’s sense of taste is less important to the dog than his sense of smell. That sniffing sense explains why a dog is just as happy to eat a pile of rotting compost as they are to eat a filet. Both smell awesome! The taste matters far less than the smell! 

With all that in mind, treat your dog with goodies that light up his natural taste preference. Instead of sneaking him a salty potato chip, try a sweet bite of cantaloupe. Scoop some wet food on his usual kibble, or offer a fresh, crunchy, water-dense bite of watermelon on a hot day!