If you have a dog, you know that our furry companions love to sniff – everything. Some have 220 million or more olfactory receptors, compared to our puny 5 million. Yup, dogs have super sniffers, but some dogs “smell better” than others … in a purely olfactory sense. Let’s check out the Top 10 Dogs with Exceptional Sense of Smell.
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The first thing you’ll notice about this list is that most are hunting dogs. Our number 10 spot is no exception. Hunters claim that the Pointer has the best nose of all the hunting breeds and they admire his bird-finding ability. He has a long, deep muzzle with wide-open nostrils he uses to seek out “fowl” smells. Get it? Fowl? OK, moving on.
Like his cousin the Pointer, the German Shorthaired Pointer has outstanding scenting and trailing ability. Holding his large brown nose low to the ground, he follows scents intensely, unlike the Pointer, who runs with his head up.
A German Shorthair named Google works in Costa Rica scenting out jaguar poop to help researchers study the species. Google —known affectionately as “the ultimate search engine”— probably because he is good at finding crap is part of a project to preserve the jaguar population. I wonder if his handlers say “OK Google” before giving him a command?
OK, I’m cheating a bit here. The term Coonhound refers to a variety of breeds.
Of Coonhound breeds, the most popular are the Black and Tan, Bluetick, Redbone, Plott Hound, Treeing Walker, English Coonhound, and American Leopard Hound. They all have highly effective sniffers but different styles of scenting.
Some have “hot” noses, meaning they work best on a fresh trail, while others are said to be “cold-nosed,” able to follow an old, or “cold,” trail with little trouble.
The Field-type English Springer Spaniel is highly prized by hunters for his nose, which is liver-colored or black with broad nostrils. The Springer was developed to flush, or spring, game in the field.
More recently, the English Springer has been trained to detect such diverse odors as explosives, narcotics, fake currency, beehives, and human remains.
Commonly employed for police and military work and as a search and rescue dog, the Belgian Malinois is well known for his keen sense of smell.
Among the breed’s many talents are his ability to sniff out explosives, prostate cancer, and cheetah scat. Oh geez, again with the poop. The Cheetah Conservation Fund has implemented a scat dog program to help mitigate human wildlife-conflict between farmers and cheetahs.
I’ve lost count of how many videos we’ve included the Lab in. He’s a versatile dog and the most popular breed in the United States.
Besides being a great companion dog, he is known for his nose. The Lab is found working in many scent-related jobs, from arson, drug and bomb detection to search and rescue. Let’s not forget hunting.
This well-known herding breed, the German Shepherd Dog, is said to have 225 million scent receptors in his snoot.
And one of the things the German Shepherd Dog is known for is his ability to air-scent.
Rather than keeping his nose to the ground, he sniffs about for human scent that is carried by the wind. A good GSD is highly versatile, and many are employed by the police, military, and search and rescue teams.
The Beagle might be one of the smallest of the hound breeds and definitely the cutest, but he has just as many scent receptors as any of them.
This merry little hound follows both air and ground scents. His scenting ability makes him popular not only with hunters but also with the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which employs its Beagle Brigade to detect agricultural contraband in US airports.
2. Basset Hound
Giving the Beagle a run for the cutest of the hounds, the Basset is built to follow a scent trail. He’s low to the ground — hence his name, from the French word “bas“, meaning “low”. His long, heavy ears sweep the ground, bringing scent upward to his powerful nose.
The loose skin beneath his chin, known as a dewlap, helps to trap the scent, keeping it easily accessible as he works. According to the American Kennel Club, the Basset Hound is second only to our number one dog in his scenting ability.
We’re almost to number one, but first:
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The Bloodhound tops our list with his 300 million scent receptors — more than any other breed. He is famed for his man-trailing abilities and is so reliable his evidence is admissible in a court of law.
He doesn’t only follow a scent on the ground, he can air scent. Like his smaller cousin the Basset, he is built to be the perfect tracking dog, with a large, long head; a nose with large, open nostrils; long ears that sweep the scent upward from the ground; and a dewlap to trap and retain the scent.
The Bloodhound’s nose, along with his stamina and persistence makes him a superior trailing dog and the number one best smelling dog. No, actually he tends to smell like corn chips, but you get the point.
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