What's The Purpose of a Dog's Philtrum?

Adrienne Farricelli

Your dog's philtrum isn't just there for decoration; it has a functional purpose so let's discover the role it plays.

​First off, you may be wondering what exactly is a dog's philtrum. Well, first of all, the good news, you have a philtrum too! Most likely you really never paid much attention to this body part, unless you are a female who enjoys smearing a nice coating of lipstick on or delineating the contour of your lips with a pencil. So let's see what a dog's philtrum is, and what role it plays.

Your Dog's Philtrum

Your dog's philtrum is simply that thin groove that runs down from the middle of the nose (nasal philtrum) down to the center of his upper lip (labial philtrum).

In human anatomy, the area is also known as "cupid's bow" because the curve of the upper lip somewhat resembles a bow and because this area in ancient Greece was considered to be a highly erogenous part of the body.

The word "philtrum" indeed derives from the ancient Greek word " philéō, “ meaning "to love, to kiss" and more distinctly, the word "philtron" meaning love potion.

While in humans, the philtrum doesn't appear to have any apparent function, other than maybe making the act of kissing pleasurable, in dogs, the philtrum has a more functional role.

The Role of Your Dog's Philtrum

Interestingly, the portion of the nasal philtrum in dogs is responsible for carrying moisture from the mouth to the rhinarium, the moist surface area of your dog's nose. It is courtesy of the capillary action occurring in this site that your dog's nasal area is kept nicely moist.

A moist nose in dogs ,after all, helps a dog's sense of smell considering that moisture traps scent molecules more easily. Smart dogs indeed, will lick their noses repeatedly when they become dry as they don't want to miss out important olfactory information just because of a dry nose!