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Fun facts about your dog’s sense of smell

Tall, short, fat or skinny, all dogs have one thing in common: an amazing sense of smell. Dog noses are not only cute and kissable, but useful too! To really understand what dogs can do, let’s take an in-depth look at our canine companions’ superior sniffer.

  1. Dogs have a strong sense of smell
    Scientists guess the dog’s sense of smell is somewhere between 10,000 to 100,000 times more acute than ours.1 One of the reasons a dog has such better smelling ability than us is the number of scent receptors. For every scent receptor a human has, a dog has about 50.
  2. Not all noses are created equal
    While all dog breeds have an excellent sense of smell, dogs with short noses, such as bulldogs, have less space for scent-detecting cells than dogs with a longer snout.
  3. The Best Nose Award goes to the bloodhound!
    This breed takes the lead with approximately 300 million scent receptors. Other sporting breeds — like the bluetick coonhound, Labrador retriever and herding breeds such as the German shepherd — follow closely behind.
  4. Dogs smell differently than humans
    We humans breathe and smell through the same air passage in our noses. When dogs breathe, a fold of tissue separates the two functions of smelling and respiration.
  5. A dog’s sense of smell can detect human emotions
    A dog’s sense of smell as been shown to detect fear, anxiety and even sadness in humans.
  6. Scent-tracking dogs have special skills
    They are trained to ignore thousands of other smells on their path to keep their noses on the prize.
  7. Search dogs can catch scents carried by the wind
    Many search dogs use air-scent, working to catch scents carried by the wind
  8. A cold, wet dog nose has its benefits
    A dog’s cold, wet nose helps them smell the world more effectively. A coating of mucus on a dog’s damp nose helps it smell by capturing scent particles

How can a dog’s sense of smell help people?

We know dogs have a strong sense of smell, but what does that mean to us? Dogs can help humans track, identify and sniff out all kinds of things that improve our lives!

  • Rabbits, foxes, birds and other quarry for hunters
  • Lawbreakers on the run
  • Cancer and infectious diseases
  • Medications
  • Falling glucose levels in their owners
  • Traces of peanuts in food
  • Bed bugs
  • Drugs and contraband
  • Missing persons
  • Bombs and other explosives
  • Signs of arson.


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