Dog Discoveries

The Dog Version of Fingerprints!


It’s Tuesday Trivia, which means it’s time to test your canine knowledge! Today, we’ll be tackling a dog’s body part that is so unique, it can be said that it’s capable of replicating the equivalent function of a human fingerprint. Indeed, its pattern can be used to identify dogs, distinguishing one dog from another. What body part are we talking about it?

A Dog paws

B Dog toes

C Dog noses

D Dog tongues

And the answer is:

dog body part equivalent to finger prints

Answer: if you answered A, nope, dog paws can have a unique smell of Frito feet, popcorn or tacos, but the paw prints they produce don’t have a pattern that allows them to be similar to producing our fingerprints. If you answered B, it makes sense to say toes as they’re as close as you can can get to the digits of our fingers, but no, it’s still not the correct answer. If you said D, dog tongues, sure our doggy’s tongues leave some unique patterns on our clean windows and glass sliding doors, but no, that’s not the answer we were looking for. So the correct answer is C, dog noses!

A Matter of Ridges

dog nose printsIf we take a close look to our dog’s noses, we will see that on their surface there are several ridges that form patterns.

The moist texture of this surface is meant to attract odor molecules allowing the dog to smell them easier, explain D. Caroline Coile and Maragaret H. Bonham’s book “Why do dogs like balls?

Well, the intriguing part is that it has been discovered that these ridges on the dog’s nose are so unique that their appearance could be used as a way for identifying dogs.

According to a study, taking nose prints in dogs is a fairly easy process. All that’s needed is to dry the nose with a lint swab, impregnate the leather of the nose with China ink and a nose print is then printed on a white cardboard. Voila!

Did you know? The moist, naked part of the dog’s that we commonly refer to as “nose” has a technical name, it’s called “rhinarium.”



  • D. Caroline Coile, Maragaret H. Bonham’s book “Why do dogs like balls? Sterling Publishing Co. Inc, New York, NY, 2008
  • N. Coldea (1994) Nose prints as a method of identification in dogs, Veterinary Quarterly, 16:sup1, 60-60, DOI: 10.1080/01652176.1994.9694497

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Adrienne Farricelli

About the author: Adrienne Farricelli is a certified dog trainer and behavior consultant. She is also a former veterinarian assistant, and author of  the popular online dog training course "Brain Training for Dogs." Her work has appeared in several print and online publications including E-how, USA Today, Every Dog Magazine, Daily Puppy and Connecticut Dog Magazine.
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