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How Far Can A Dog Track A Scent? – Interesting Face about Dog Smell Sense

Ever wonder how far can dogs smell? It’s a known fact to the entire world that a dog’s sense of smell is considered magnificent. Unlike humans, dogs can pick up on odors sent out from afar. Among all the other animals on this planet, there is a reason why dogs are always hand-picked to sniff out human scents and illicit substances. It is indeed because of their remarkable sense of smell. One must know that our furry companions can sniff and find things buried deep under this earth’s surface.

How Far Can Dogs Smell in Miles?

Many research papers suggest that pups can sniff and detect odors at parts per trillion, in addition to that, they can smell at least 20 km (12.4 miles) far away under the proper conditions. They can smell different things buried underground up to 40 feet below. Though our dogs are provided with an innate boon of great smelling ability, a set of factors can affect their ability to sniff. In other words, how far away can a dog smell depends a lot on these factors.

Wind Speed and Direction

The wind’s direction is considered one of the important factors that help our pups sniff around. If the wind blows out towards the dog, they can smell even further.


The ability of the dog to pick up on an odor 500 yards away totally depends upon the weather conditions. For instance, with the help of the wind, a pup can sniff and find out a person or an object even 40 feet away. On the other hand, a dog may feel uncomfortable on a rainy day. With his mind preoccupied, he might not be able to smell a kitten meowing a few yards away. Spring and fall are the best seasons for the dog’s nose to perform best since vegetations and the grounds won’t be thick as they are all ground sniffers or trackers.

Height and Distance

Our furry friend is more likely to pick up the scent of a human being in the same street as him than a puppy standing 25 miles away. Hence, height (density) and the distance between the dog and the smell are crucial for our pups to sniff out properly. The closer the scent is, the better they can sniff out and follow it.


All dogs can sniff out, but only the trained ones can put that ability into good use. Scent-training is considered one of the crucial parts of the training for a dog since it is mentally stimulating. It also provides confidence to the pup. Also, they will be using their natural ability to smell around to find out specific odors.

Dog Breeds

You know which dog has the best sense of smell? The ability of the dog to sniff around is much better compared to humans, but some dog breeds outperform the rest. The list includes: Bloodhound, Basset Hound, Beagle, Belgian Malinois, Dachshunds, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, and Labrador Retriever.

It is important to know that a short-snouted dog has smaller nostrils, leading to more respiratory problems than dogs with a long snout. Hence, their potential to pick up a scent from afar is poor. Our pet pups can pick up even the invisible things around us, such as our hormones, mood, sickness, and even our sweaty fingerprints, even from afar with proper health.

Why Do Dogs Smell Better Than Humans?

Dog sense of smell vs human facts are interesting. Canine smell senses are much more sensitive to smells than ours. Indeed, a dog’s olfaction is 10-100 million times better and more accurate than an average human being. While humans breathe and smell simultaneous, dogs do these two things separately. Their noses work in a way that they separate the air dogs breathe in. One is the air used for breathing, and the other is for sniffing. It is one of the reasons why they find it easier to differentiate between scents and odors they smell afar. Pups have a group of tissues in their noses that helps them to separate smelling from inhaling.

Dogs have 250-300 million smell receptors, while an average person has only 6 million smell receptors. Some breeds have smell receptors in their noses, reaching up to 300 million. Hence, our pup’s sense of smell is 100 million times better than our own’s. They are considered to have a more robust and perfect sense of smell. The noses of our furry friends are modified so that their sense of smell will function much better than ours. Another critical factor is that the human brain is devoted to vision, while dogs have a large portion dedicated to their olfaction. Around 40% of their brain is dedicated to analyzing the scents our pups sniff out and helping them to follow the odors.

Interesting Facts on Dog Sense of Smell

Wet Noses

Pups’ noses work much better if they are a little bit moist rather than dry or flaky, which helps them capture the scent particles more efficiently. The mucus present on their noses helps them to sort and identify smells. Another reason why pups have an incredible sense of smell is because of the presence of the nose’s moist leathery surface, which is considered crucial to determine the direction of air currents. Sometimes a dry nose can also mean they are sick, and it’s time to visit the vet.

Nose Prints

While fingerprints are considered unique to every human being, nose prints are different to every dog. One can never find two dogs with the same nose prints.

Detection of Time

Though the odors change throughout the day, dogs are born innately with incredible and unique technology. They know that strong odors mean something’s coming while the weak ones suggest the opposite. With the help of their noses, dogs acknowledge the passage of time, that is, and they use their nose to understand what time of the day it is.

Jacobson’s Organ

Every dog has a Jacobson’s organ located at the roof of the mouth, which helps sniff out the pheromones, which are unique to every one of them. This organ helps the pups to know sex-related facts.

Different Noses

Though all dogs have an excellent sense of smell, some breeds with short noses have less space for their scent receptors, which affects their sense of smell to an extent than a dog with a long snout.

Way of Communication

Pups use their fantastic sense of smell to socialize with the other dogs present near them. It is also said that our pups can convey messages or information through their noses. These can be considered a way of communicating between them and their parent(s). If the pet pup sniffs or puts his nose or the face on their parent(s), it’s most probably a way to seek attention or greet them.

Connection with Humans

Dogs can detect their human emotions with their incredible sense of smell. Dogs can detect happiness, anxiety, fear, or need cuddles with the scent.

Human’s Vs Dog’s Nose

Unlike humans, dogs can move each of their nostrils independently from the other one, known as stereoscopic. This helps them sniff out the scents and odors, and this also helps them find out the directions.

Vision and Noses

While humans shed their skin cells every day, dogs sniff and know about them. Though these aren’t visible to naked human eyes, dogs can smell them. With the help of this, it can be said out loud that dogs can see with their noses.

Final Words

Our furry pets can pick up on any smell within reach of their noses. But it is possible only with their parent’s help. One must take care of him and his diet. Though humans and dogs may have similar body parts, their senses are incredible. Only proper training will help them to experience their full potential. A dog performs his best only when he is healthy. He can focus on all scents or a particular scent and ignore the others. Only with proper training he will get to know more about it.