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Noah’s Ark and the Wet Nose

Noah’s Ark and the Wet Nose

(Excerpt from What Do Dogs Know) – Dr. Stanley Coren

“…Any discussion of dogs’ sense of smell ultimately leads to the greatest, most imponderable question about dogs — the question that nags at children and leaves their parents groping for an appropriate answer: why do they have wet noses?

Scientists have many answers for this. One is that evaporation or moisture from the nose helps cool the dog. Another is that added moisture in the nose makes the dog more sensitive to odors.The most boring answer is that many digs simply lick their noses with their tongues, thus wetting them.

A folk tale that goes back to biblical times gives yet another answer. When God flooded the world, the story goes, all life on the planet was inside of Noah’s ark. The two dogs Noah had chosen constantly patrolled the ark, checking on the other animals, and generally just poking around as dogs do. One day, the dogs were taking their daily stroll when they noticed a coin-sized leak, throuh which water was rushing in at a rapid rate. One dog quickly ran for help, while the other dog gallantly stuck his nose in the hole to plug it. By the time Noah and his sons arrives to repair the hole, the poor dog was in great pain and gasping for breath, but a major disaster had been averted. According to this tale, dogs’ cold, wet noses are simply a badge of honor, conferred upon them by God in memory of that heroic act….”

Excerpt from What Do Dogs Know
© Stanley Coren All rights reserved
Reprinted by permission
Dr. Stanley Coren is a professor of Psychology.
He has written 6 books on dogs and is the host
of the television show Good Dog!
Dr. Coren’s books can be found on

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