What chemical reaction actually causes wet dogs to smell strongly?

My daughter asked me tonight, I think it has to do with an enzyme reaction but can’t find anything on web on it. Hopefully someone has some information.


“Compounds Responsible for the Odor of Dog Hair Coats” by Linda Young et al.
The essence is that from the wet dog hair emit following volatile compounds. dimethyl trisulfide, phenol, p-cresol, mushroom (1-octen-3-ol), fruity (2-nonanone), floral (â-damascenone), and earthy smelling (2,3-diethyl-5-methylpyrazine) odors, and branched or complex aldehydes (2, and 3-methyl butanal, isobutanal, 2E-octenal, acetaldehyde, benzaldehyde, phenylacetaldehyde, 2E-nonanal).
However the conclusion is more interesting: “There are many volatile compounds which individually do not have odors associated with “dog smell”, however, in combination, these compounds produce the typical “dog smell” that many people describe as unpleasant. There is a complex pattern of changes in the volatile compounds associated with wetting of brushed dog hair. This pattern appears to manifest as “wet dog” odor. While some amount of change in odor would be expected due to the different partition coefficients when water is added to the hair, the variety of differences indicates a probable chemical or biochemical reaction on the hair.”
I read this to mean:
· There are many chemicals present
· Several react to water
· The mix of the reactions produce the strong unpleasant smell
If I read this correctly, I think I understand it even if I can’t Grok it.

I’ll see if I can find more info tomorrow. This is something that has been on my mind for a long time too, because I’ve always wondered why my urine has a strong sulfur smell after I drink cheap malt liquor, and sometimes retains this smell for even a couple of days afterwards. To me, it’s indistinguishable from ‘asparagus urine’ smell, and very closely resembles the smell of a wet dog or a wet basement.

:blink: :blink, blink:

A study about wet dog smell? Well, they do smell different, but someone must be very, very bored.

Wow. Just Wow. :slight_smile:

Well, I’m getting closer to an answer but I’m still a little confused. When I Google the words ‘wet dog wool sulfur’ I get hundreds of hits involving wine making. I found the following passage here.

So I’m on the right track in that I seem to have established that all three aromas (wet dog, asparagus pee smell, and my post-intoxication urine smell) are all sulfur based. More to come as I keep digging…

There can be good reasons why even matters such as these get studied. I read years ago that at least some art museums are requiring visitors to check their wet wool coats in a cloakroom, because the volatile chemicals the coats emit can damage the artworks… but whether that is limited specifically to reactions with oil paints, varnishes, acrylics, watercolors, papers, or canvasses, or a combination, I haven’t the faintest.

As for dogs, well… does anybody happen to know if even the smallest, best trained Parisian lapdogs are allowed entry in any French museums? (Imagine a wet dog shaking itself inside a museum… Mon dieu!)