Incredible Facts About Your Dog’s Sense of Smell

Your dog's sense of smell is nothing to sneeze at! If your pup loves to sniff pretty much everything, you probably won't be surprised to learn that smell is their strongest sense. But just how powerful are those doggy nostrils? Keep reading to discover what makes dogs' noses so sensitive, how furry friends use their remarkable smelling abilities, and which dogs have the best sense of smell.


Dogs' Sense of Smell Vs. Humans' Sense of Smell

When it comes to sniffing skills, our furry companions have a big advantage over us. A typical dog's nose contains 300 million odor receptors, compared to about 6 million in a human's nose, according to Reader's Digest. The part of the canine brain that interprets odors is also much larger than that of the human brain. Pooches' sense of smell is so much better than ours that some dogs can even detect a teaspoon of sugar in a body of water the size of two Olympic swimming pools, according to Daily Mail. It's no wonder so many dogs and their keen noses specialize in police and detective work!


How Do Dogs Use Their Sense of Smell?

 2 dogs smelling each other

While talking is our main way of conversing, dogs have a unique "scent language" to communicate with and learn about other dogs. Ever notice how your dog "greets" a new furry friend with a sniff or two? It may seem like an awkward way to say hello, but sniffing teaches your pooch essential information about the other dog such as their gender, their age, where they've been, and what they've eaten recently. Sniffing is even considered a brain game for dogs!

Getting a good whiff of you or another animal can even help dogs understand mood. If your pup always seems to comfort you when you're upset, that's because they can smell your stress. Our bodies release hormones and chemicals when we feel emotions like fear or anxiety, which dogs can detect through their nose. Your dog truly knows you like nobody else!


 RELATED: The Science Behind Sounds Only Dogs Can Hear


How Far Can Dogs Smell?

Furry friends not only have an incredible sense of smell, but they can also sniff out objects from great distances. Exactly how far dogs can smell depends on a wide range of factors including breed, weather conditions, and the specific scent they are tracking. Wind blowing toward a dog, for example, can make objects that are farther away more "visible" to their nose. Likewise, an item with a potent smell is easier to sense than something with a very mild smell. Under perfect conditions, dogs have been reported to smell objects or people from up to 20 kilometers (about 12.4 miles) away, according to the University of Adelaide!


Dogs with the Best Sense of Smell

german shepherd puppy sniffing 

All dog breeds have a superb sense of smell, but some have especially perceptive noses. From natural-born hunters to pups who excel at search-and-rescue work, here are some of the most popular dogs with the best sense of smell:

  • Beagle
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Bloodhound
  • Dachshund
  • German Shepherd
  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Scottish Terrier


How to Stimulate Your Dog's Strongest Sense

Dogs are curious creatures! In addition to helping your fur pal learn about their world, smelling provides mental stimulation. Let them stop and sniff around trees and fire hydrants for a few moments on your next walk; the scents they pick up can teach them information about other dogs in the neighborhood while keeping their mind busy.

Giving your pooch long-lasting dog chew toys is another great way to arouse their sense of smell. Chewing and sniffing both provide mental stimulation, so an occupying toy's aroma will give your pup's brain some extra exercise as they chew. While Nylabone® chew toys are odorless to humans, dogs can smell their irresistible flavor!


Sniffing Is a Superpower!

Dogs have some of the finest smelling abilities in the animal kingdom, bested only by sharks, bears, and a small handful of other creatures. Keep that in mind the next time your furry friend's nose suddenly drops to the ground—they may be sniffing out something that's miles away!

Dogs' sense of smell is beyond compare, but how does their vision stack up? Discover the truth behind which colors dogs can see.


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