Do Dogs Have Taste Buds?

Dogs have 1,700 taste buds to sense tastes for sweet, salt, bitter, and more.


Dogs have taste buds on their tongue and in the back of their throat. Taste buds, of course, are little bumps that carry taste receptors.

Dogs have approximately 1,700 taste buds, less than 20% of what humans have. This difference in number of taste buds might help to explain why dogs can be much less discriminating in what they prefer to eat, compared to their humans.


Where Are Specific Taste Buds?

  • Sweet – These taste buds tend to be located in the front of the tongue.
  • Salt – These taste buds tend to be located closer to the front of the tongue and are less sensitive than in humans.
  • Bitter/sour – These taste buds are located on the back of the tongue.
  • Meat/fat – These taste buds are thought to have their origin in the diet of ancestral canids being meat-based.
  • Water – Water is not tasteless in dogs as it is for people. These taste buds are located at the tip of the tongue, and they become more sensitive if the dog is thirsty, or after eating a meal.

Just Say No to Sour or Spicy

Dogs tend to avoid sour or spicy foods, as these flavors are often associated with unsafe foods in the wilderness, such as food that has spoiled. Spicy foods are not favored because many spices can cause digestive system discomfort, from the oral cavity, and throughout the rest of the gastrointestinal system. Be careful with all seasonings when feeding your dog.

Dogs also use their sense of smell (the most sensitive of the five senses in the dog) when deciding what to eat. If your dog does not have a good appetite, making the food more aromatic (moist food instead of dry kibble, slightly warming the food) might help.