All About Dog Noses

Does this happen to you? You’re out on a walk with your dog, and your pup’s focus is on excitingly smelling the ground, the air, and whoever you pass. Dogs are known for having incredible noses.

Les Chatfield

Here are 5 cool facts about dog noses:

1. A dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 – 100,000 times more acute as that of humans.

2. A wet nose helps dogs pick up scent better when they smell their environment, which is why dogs’ noses secrete a thin layer of mucous that helps them absorb scent.

3. A dog’s olfactory part of the brain is 40x larger than a human’s.

4. Dogs have a lot of scent receptors in their noses, but not all dogs have the same amount. Dachshunds are on the low end of the scale with about 125 million; Beagles & German Shepherds are in the middle with about 225 million, while the Bloodhound have about 300 million scent receptors in their noses! This is compared to humans’ measly 5 million scent receptors.

5. Scent dogs are used from finding missing people, sniffing out bombs and drugs, to alerting humans to cancer. Max was able to smell his human’s cancer even when machines couldn’t detect it:


With dogs having such incredible sniffers, a common misconception is that dogs turn to their sense of smell as their first tool to solve problems, like where that toy rolled off to in the yard. Dognition database supports, and research shows, that about 75% of dogs actually use their memory over smell to solve problems. Dogs might smell treats in a room but they cannot localize the smell unless they get up close to the scent. Do you think your dog relies more on his nose or his noggin to problem solve?

Purchase a Dognition Assessment Toolkit, and play our Memory versus Pointing game to find out! With a membership, you’ll learn how to teach your dog scent-tracking by using his cognitive style. On your next walk, you can further appreciate your dog’s nose for how exceptionally powerful it is–yet know that your dog, most likely, uses other tools to problem solve!

(Photo credit: Les Chatfield)