By now, every pet parent knows that their pooch has a better sense of smell than they do. Whenever a piece of food falls to the floor, it takes your dog no more than seconds to find it, even if they are on the other side of the room. But what happens if you take them a little further? How many miles can dogs smell?
If you’re reading this, you want to know how many miles dogs can smell. So let’s dive right into the answer.
The furthest a dog has been able to smell was from 20km away, approximately 12.4 miles. This record was hit under perfect conditions, because believe it or not, it’s not all up to our pooches’ noses. Factors such as the type of scent and the wind have a direct impact on the length dogs can smell.
The intensity of the smell they are trying to perceive it’s extremely important to determine how far they can smell it. What is more, if it’s too windy, the scent might be scattered around, making it harder for them to smell it and track it down.
Dogs’ sense of smell
We all know that dogs can smell better than we do, but how much better can they actually perceive scents? Let’s look at some facts.
- Humans have approximately six million olfactory receptors in our noses. Dogs can have up to 300 million.
- Dogs can detect some scents at concentrations of one part per trillion. You can think of it as a single drop of liquid in 20 olympic size swimming pools.
- A 2008 study proved that dogs have neophilia, a preference for new and interesting odors rather than the familiar ones.
- The dog’s part of the brain dedicated to analyzing smells is 40 times greater than ours.
What is more, dogs’ noses don’t function like ours. Humans smell and breath through the same airways, but canines have the physical ability to separate these functions.
The same happens during exhalation. When we do it, the air goes through the same way it came in. By doing so, it doesn’t allow new scents to come in. On the other hand, when dogs exile, the air goes through the splits in the sides of their noses. They still have their nostrils available for new odors to slip in.
What do dogs use their sense of smell for?
One of the most important things they use it for is communication and perception.
Dogs use their sense of smell to communicate with other dogs. When your dog sniffs another pup, they are learning everything they can about each other. The information they exchange during this sniffing session has not been discovered yet, but it is assumed that they get to know if the other dog is friendly or not, their approximate age and some even say they can tell what the other pup ate.
Dogs also use their sense of smell to perceive the world around them. When you take your pooch on a walk and they seem to stop every other second to smell something, they are just exploring and getting to know the outside world. What is more, most of the times your dog stops to smell the wall during your walks, they are probably just sniffing another pup’s urine and getting a message from them. By doing so, they get to know which dog was there.
Another use dogs give to their sense of smell is recognizing humans. It doesn’t matter how many showers you take, your dog will still be able to smell your natural odor. Don’t feel bad about it, it’s just the way nature acts. And our pups with their super noses can detect it without problem. It works as a tool for them to identify the people they meet. Alexandra Horowitz, a canine cognition expert, says that “to our dogs, we are our scent”.
Dog breeds with the best sense of smell
Although all dogs have this enhanced sense of smell, there are some breeds that are known for having the higher amount of scent receptors, making them the ones with the best sense of smell.
- Bloodhound (300 million scent receptors)
- Basset hound
- German Shepherd
- Labrador Retriever
- Belgian malinois
- English springer spaniel
- German Shorthaired Pointer