Super Sniffers: Dogs With the Most Powerful Noses

All dogs have a keen sense of smell, but some breeds are downright super sniffers!

Jan 9, 2024By Lauren Rey
super sniffers dogs with most powerful noses

Whether sniffing out illegal products at the airport, tracking a missing person through the forest, or just nosing around the house looking for hidden treats or crumbs in the couch, dogs put their powerful noses to work every day. While all dogs love to sniff, some breeds were quite literally built for it! Here’s a look at some extraordinary canines with superior sniffing skills!

A Dog’s Nose Knows

dog nose
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It’s no secret that dogs have an excellent sense of smell, as any dog owner who’s ever dared to pet another dog before arriving home or tried to hide medicine in a treat can attest! The reason dogs are able to sniff things out so well? Their noses have over 100 million sensory receptor sites — way more than a human’s 6 million.

Canines use their powerful noses to navigate the world around them and in many ways, it’s how they “see” things, so it’s important to let dogs sniff! While their human counterparts mainly rely on vision to tell them who or what may be lurking nearby, dogs use their noses. This is why we often see our dogs intently sniffing on walks or when entering a new place, it’s how they get the lay of the land! A quick sniff session can tell a dog a whole lot about their surroundings, including what other pets and people might be around.

Super Sniffers

customs beagle
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While all dogs have a keen sense of smell, some are more powerful than others. Some dogs seemingly have superpowers when it comes to sniffing. These “super sniffers,” or dogs with the strongest noses, are often used in law enforcement, search and rescue operations, missing persons, and more. Ever seen a Beagle sniffing bags in the customs line at the airport or a Bloodhound looking for a lost child? These are examples of “super sniffers” at work!

Dogs That Put Their Noses to Work

bloodhound search dog
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From the airport to the wilderness and everywhere in between, these are some of the breeds most commonly employed for their super-sniffing skills!

Bloodhound - With one of the most powerful noses on the planet, Bloodhounds have been used in scent tracking for centuries and are probably the breed that most comes to mind when you hear about tracking dogs. Today, Bloodhounds are most often deployed to help with missing person cases, search and rescue operations, and finding evidence at crime scenes.

Beagle - One of the happiest and hungriest of hounds, there’s no breed better at sniffing out food than the Beagle! These little guys know where to find the goods and are often employed by US Customs to help find illegal agricultural products. Beagles provide a valuable service by keeping non-native pests and hazardous foods at bay while doing what they love — sniffing! And, of course, they accept payment in treats, it’s a win-win.

Belgian Malinois - A strong powerful dog with an equally strong and powerful nose, the Belgian Malinois is a versatile working breed that is deployed in a variety of police and military roles. From sniffing out explosives and narcotics to tracking down suspects and searching for victims in rubble after disasters, the Belgian Malinois does it all.

malinois search rescue dog

German Shepherd - Perhaps the breed most commonly associated with police work, the German Shepherd has served in a variety of law enforcement sectors over the years. With a powerful nose and strong will, the German Shepherd always sniffs out its target, whether that means searching cargo for narcotics, detecting explosives, or tracking a suspect through tough terrain. The German Shepherd always gets the job done!

Labrador Retriever - With a powerful nose and a strong will to follow it, the loveable Labrador puts its sniffer to work in a variety of ways. Labrador Retrievers are routinely used for detecting explosives or narcotics at public events, sniffing out survivors in natural disasters, and even serving as arson investigators by detecting the scents of accelerants. Labs save the day in a lot of ways!

Owning a Super Sniffer

happy beagle with owner
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While all dogs love to sniff, if you happen to own one of these “super sniffers” be prepared to stop frequently on walks and stock up on some enrichment toys. These pups will follow their nose wherever it goes and need an outlet to express their natural behaviors.

Safe ways to keep your “super sniffer” entertained include snuffle mats, puzzle toys, and nosework games. Of course, a nice long walk where you allow them some time to sniff at their leisure should also be an important part of their routine to fulfill their physical and mental doggy exercise needs. Just keep an eye on them, you never know where their nose may lead them or what treasure (or garbage) they might find!

Lauren Rey
By Lauren Rey

A lover of all animals, Lauren’s background is in the veterinary world, but she is now a content writer on travel, wildlife, and all things pets! She’s based in Florida, but when not writing, she’s usually plotting out a new road trip route with her partner-in-crime. Pickles is a mixed-breed rescue dog that loves hiking, road trips, and Starbucks just as much as her mom does!