19 Dogs Known for Their Amazing Noses

Written By Babatunde Sanni

All dogs have an extraordinary sense of smell, but a few breeds are at the top of their game. Commonly used for tracking, detecting, and hunting, here are 19 breeds known to have the keenest sense of smell in the canine family.

Bloodhound

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You’ll find Bloodhounds at the top of many lists you come across, and for good reason. PBS shares with us that these amazing dogs have up to 230 million olfactory “scent” cells, which is 40 times what humans have. And with this, they can follow a trail that’s a few days old. This has given them roles in wildlife tracking as well as search and rescue operations.

Beagle

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Beagles are also said to have over 200 million olfactory cells, and this allows them to pick up scents that are up to 500 yards away. Beagles are often employed for Customs and Border Patrol operations, and, according to an NLM paper, they can even pick up the scent of malignant lung (cancer) cells.

German Shepherd

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German Shepherds, along with their speed, hearing, and amazing protective personalities, also come with one of the best senses of smell in the dog world. These dogs are the preferred choice in appropriate police and military operations, helping to pick up the scent of illegal drugs and explosives.

Basset Hound

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Basset Hounds are renowned for their low-slung bodies and exceptional sense of smell. Their large, floppy ears help to sweep scents toward their noses, and their persistence makes them excellent trackers. They can follow a trail for miles, making them great hunting companions.

Labrador Retriever

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Labrador Retrievers are not just friendly family pets; they have incredible noses, too. These dogs are commonly used in detection work, including drug and explosive sniffing, and they are also often trained to detect diabetic and epileptic episodes, providing life-saving warnings for their owners.

Coonhound

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Coonhounds are specially bred for their scent-tracking abilities and are used primarily in hunting—being able to follow a cold trail for long distances. Their loud bays help hunters follow them, and their persistence ensures they rarely lose a scent once they’ve picked it up. They are also known for tracking lost pets and livestock, making them invaluable in rural areas.

Springer Spaniel

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Springer Spaniels are also known for their versatility and keen sense of smell. Often used in search and rescue missions, they can locate people trapped under rubble or lost in the wilderness. Their high energy and excellent noses make them perfect for such demanding tasks, and they are also employed in wildlife conservation to detect specific plant species.

Belgian Malinois

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Belgian Malinois are used by military and police forces around the world to detect explosives and narcotics with remarkable accuracy. Their high drive and trainability complement their strong olfactory abilities, and these dogs are also involved in wildlife trafficking prevention, sniffing out illegal animal products.

Pointer

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True to their name, Pointers are excellent at locating game birds through scent. Their ability to freeze and point toward the direction of the scent makes them invaluable in hunting. And this breed’s prowess in dense vegetation covers also makes them a preferred choice in search and rescue operations held in difficult terrain.

Dachshund

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Dachshunds, despite their small size, have impressive scent-tracking skills, too. Originally bred to hunt badgers, their determination and sharp noses make them effective at locating small game and other animals, and they can follow underground scents with ease. These dogs are also used to detect bed bugs, proving their versatility.

English Foxhound

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Bred for hunting, English Foxhounds are known for their stamina and excellent noses. They can follow a scent trail over long distances and difficult terrain, and their ability to stay focused on a scent makes them exceptional hunting companions. They are also used in search and rescue missions in remote areas.

Weimaraner

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Weimaraners are versatile dogs and, according to Rover, some “owners often say it’s ‘cheating’ to enter them in scent tracking events because they win so easily.” These dogs excel in hunting, and their keen noses and athleticism enable them to cover large areas quickly while maintaining their focus on a scent. They are also used in wildlife conservation efforts to track endangered species.

Golden Retriever

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Golden Retrievers are not only beloved family pets but are also frequently used in detection work, sniffing out drugs, explosives, and even medical conditions. Their intelligence and gentle nature make them highly trainable and effective in roles that include detecting allergens for people with severe allergies.

Australian Shepherd

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Australian Shepherds, with their high intelligence and keen sense of smell, excel in search and rescue missions, too. They can locate missing people and animals with remarkable accuracy, and their agility and stamina enhance their scent-tracking capabilities in challenging environments. They are also used in conservation efforts to detect invasive species.

Border Collie

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Border Collies are known for their intelligence and work ethic, which extend to their scent-tracking abilities. Often used in search, rescue, and detection work, they have a reputation for being quick learners, and their keen noses and sharp minds make them trainable to detect diseases in livestock.

Giant Schnauzer

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Giant Schnauzers also possess a strong sense of smell that sometimes gets them used for police and military work. They can detect narcotics and explosives, and their imposing size makes them both intimidating and even more effective in their duties. These dogs are also involved in search and rescue missions in disaster zones.

Cocker Spaniel

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Cocker Spaniels have noses that are well-suited for detection work. Used in various roles, including drug detection and search and rescue, their smaller size allows them to access tight spaces, and, as shared by Mirror, they can be trained to detect household and agricultural pests, too.

Standard Poodle

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Standard Poodles, often underrated for their scent-tracking abilities, excel in detection work. They are most commonly used in roles involving narcotics and search and rescue, and they are also trainable to detect truffles—a type of expensive fungus delicacy that’s difficult to find, harvest, and preserve.

Jack Russell Terrier

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Small but tenacious, Jack Russell Terriers have noses that allow them to hunt foxes and other small game excellently. Thanks to their high energy, they can follow scent trails with remarkable persistence, and their sharp noses also come in handy for detecting mold in buildings.

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