Dogs with the Best Sense of Smell

According to experts, a dog’s olfactory bulb is said to be 40 times that of a human’s!

So needless to say, dogs are undisputable when it comes to smelling and sniffing things. While all dogs have a great sense of smell, there are some dog breeds that are more known for their exceptional sniffing abilities compared to the other breeds. No wonder, they prove to be useful for man especially in the fields of law enforcement, search-and-rescue work and hunting, among other things.


1. Bloodhound

The bloodhound almost always tops the list of the best sniffers in the canine world. It’s because it has the most olfactory sensors compared to any other dog breeds, which enable the animal to discern a target’s smell over great distances. Plus, its large, drooping ears and loose, wrinkly body trap the scent particles off the ground, which then fly into its nostrils. These unique physical characteristics of the bloodhound definitely add to its tracking capabilities.

It was originally bred for hunting wild animals such as deer and wild boar, but the bloodhound’s role has evolved to tracking humans ever since the Middle Ages. Thus, bloodhounds nowadays are mainly used for search-and-rescue work.


2. Beagle

Like the bloodhound and many other specific breeds known for their superior smelling ability, the beagle was originally bred for hunting game. But because of its amazing sense of smell and tracking instinct, the beagle is used for many types of sniffing jobs such as searching luggage and locating vermin like rats and termites. It has been trained to detect over fifty kinds of odors — such an awesome ability that belies its small size.

Basset Hound

3. Basset Hound

The Basset Hound is also a keen sniffer. Its name is derived from the French word Bas meaning “low” due to its low-slung body, which gives the Basset Hound a great advantage over the other breeds. Its big, long and pendulous ears as well as its wrinkled face and body help trap the scent, which goes into its nose.

German Shepherd

4. German Shepherd

Although they’re not classified as hound dogs, German Shepherds nevertheless have an excellent sense of smell. And that is one of the properties that make them perfectly suited for law enforcement, detective and military work. German Shepherds are an “air-scenting” type of dog breed, meaning they can track their target’s scent that is carried by the wind (instead of the ground).


5. Coonhound

Coonhounds were originally bred specifically for hunting raccoons (hence the name) and other arboreal animals such as oppossums, even bears and cougars. It makes the coonhound as a “treeing” dog; it chases other animals up a tree, thus trapping them. The dog stays under the tree and continues to bark at the quarry until its owner comes and shoots it (or otherwise captures it unharmed). This is where the idiom “barking up the wrong tree” originated from, by the way.

Labrador Retriever

6. Labrador Retriever

A Labrador Retriever is not the first dog that comes that to mind when talking about breeds with an excellent sense of smell. Nonetheless, they also possess a super-sensitive nose that makes them ideally suited for certain jobs like search-and-rescue and narcotics/contraband/bomb detection. A Labrador Retriever is not just a retrieving type but is also a pointing type which is known for its instinct to point and track towards its prey — the very reason why they were originally bred as gun dogs. Another good thing about Labs is that they’re highly trainable, so their exceptional sense of smell can be used to great advantage by their handlers.


7. Dachshund

The dachshund’s intelligence and amazing abilities make up for its small stature. Apart from its long body, the dachshund’s keen sense of smell enables it to hunt above as well as below the ground — this little guy loves to burrow like there’s no tomorrow! It’s the dachshund’s unique trait that’s not found in any other dog breeds. It is best suited for hunting burrowing animals such as wild rabbits, which destroy farmer crops.

8. Pointer

This breed has a long, deep muzzle and widely opened nostrils; making it a breed with one of the best nose. When running long miles, they often lose their way back and hence and follow their long nose to track long distances.  Pointers are known for their ability to find birds, which is why they are the favorite and most used by hunters.

9. English Springer Spaniel

Known as the sporting dog, the English springer spaniel is further categorized into two types, the filed bred and the show bred. However, out of the two, the field type springer has a strong sense of smell. They have a black or deep-red liver colored nose with broad nostrils. They are not only admired by hunters but also trained to identify human remains, drugs, explosives, narcotics and beehives.

10. Belgian Malinois

This is considered as an intelligent and active breed, used by police and military forces for their strong-smelling ability. Since they are also used in herding, tracking and sledding, they are trained to detect drugs, explosives, bombs, prostate cancer and also bed bugs.


If you want to further know about these dog breeds and what makes each one of them so distinct, do follow our various informative posts on dogs.