Olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) are the non-myelinating glial cells of the olfactory nerves and bulb. The fragmentary characterization of OECs in situ during normal development may be due to their small size requiring intricate ultrastructural analysis and to the fact that available markers for in situ detection are either expressed only by OEC subpopulations or lost during development. In the present study, we searched for markers with stable expression in OECs and investigated the spatiotemporal distribution of CNPase, an early oligodendrocyte/Schwann cell marker, in comparison with the prototype marker p75(NTR). Anti-CNPase antibodies labeled canine but not rat OECs in situ, while Schwann cells and oligodendrocytes were positive in both species. CNPase immunoreactivity in the dog was confined to all OECs throughout the postnatal development and associated with the entire cell body, including its finest processes, while p75(NTR) was mainly detected in perineural cells and only in some neonatal OECs. Adult olfactory bulb slices displayed CNPase expression after 4 and 10 days, while p75(NTR) was detectable only after 10 days in vitro. Finally, treatment of purified adult canine OECs with fibroblast growth factor-2 significantly reduced CNPase expression at the protein and mRNA level. Taken together, we conclude that CNPase but not p75(NTR) is a stable marker suitable for in situ visualization of OECs that will facilitate their light-microscopic characterization and challenge our general view of OEC marker expression in situ. The fact that canine but not rat OECs expressed CNPase supports the idea that glia from large animals differs substantially from rodents.