When I gaze into the auburn-colored eyes of my Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier, Molly, I sense her communicating two things to me: "I really love you so much, human," and, "Please take me on a drive so I can stick my head out the window. My god, I love sticking my head out of the window."
And she really does; as do most dogs. Is it the feeling of the wind? The comforting rumble of my 2001 CRV beneath her paws? None of the above? Turns out, there's a simple reason why dogs love car rides.
Model, Influencer & Entrepreneur Lindsey Pelas Reveals Celebrity Pick Up Stories
Bottom line: It's like an ice cream cone of smells
Dog's noses contain 300 million olfactory receptors (compared to our measly 6 million), and the part of their brain dedicated to sniffin' is about 40% larger than ours. Simply put, dog's noses are pretty much the equivalent of our eyes, sensory wise.
That means when your window is open and Fido's head is out over the freeway, it's getting a veritable, all-you-can-sniff smorgasbord of exciting new smells flowing rapidly over their noses—which apparently, they really, really dig, as pointed out by author/veterinarian Marty Becker in his book answering common canine queries.
Dr. Janie von Waldburg, a veterinarian from PetCoach, confirmed this theory, adding that "They really do love all the smells coming in...it's like an ice cream cone of smells for your dog."
Isn't it possible they just enjoy the wind?
Because we can't actually hold conversations with dogs (...yet), there's no way to be 100% certain that the smell theory is unequivocally true. Is it possible that they just like the feeling of the wind on their furry faces? Maybe, but I'm not buying it.
Speaking from personal experience, if my shitty desk fan even comes near my dog, she runs away with her tail (literally) between her legs. However, she'll immediately stick her head out the window in a moving car. Not to mention, when I have my car windows closed and the A/C pumping, she will actually stick her nose up to the vent and chill there. Basically, cutting her losses and getting those outside car smells any way she can, thus corroborating the smell-centric theory. That's a little detective work for you, free of charge.
Based on the expert opinions of the two aforementioned veterinarians, combined with my 25+ years of being a dog-friend, I have to say the "smell" theory hits the nail on the head.
So there you have it. If you really love your dogs (and their noses) you'll keep the windows down, and your route filled with bakeries, bacon factories, and of course, other dogs' butts.
Wil Fulton is a staff writer for Supercompressor. He loves smells as much as the next dog. Follow him @WilFulton.