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It’s widely known that dogs have a much more acute sense of smell than humans, and through their olfactory abilities, they receive a wealth of information. But just how well can dogs smell? To grasp the magnitude of a dog’s olfactory sensitivity, you should understand that the part of their brain responsible for analyzing smells is 40 times larger than that of humans.

When comparing a dog’s sense of smell to that of humans, consider the following: it’s estimated that dogs can identify scents between 1,000 and 10,000 times better than people. This is because they possess a significantly higher number of olfactory receptors. Dogs can create scent maps from the smells they track, detecting an odor from distances of nearly 2 kilometers and at depths of almost 10,000 meters.

A dog’s nose serves two functions: one is unconscious breathing, while the other is sniffing, which is the ability to detect various scents. Dogs don’t just passively experience scents like we do; they actively seek them out. They can move their nostrils purposefully and independently to determine the direction of a scent.

When they encounter a scent, odor molecules pass through the vomeronasal organ, where they accumulate until the dog has gathered enough information to recognize the smell.


Olfactory cells are responsible for detecting scents. While humans have around 5 million olfactory receptors, some dogs, like the Bloodhound, have approximately 300 million olfactory cells.

Differences in olfactory capacity can be found among different dog breeds, depending on the volume of receptor cells. Breeds like the German Shepherd have 225 million olfactory cells, and the Fox Terrier has 147 million. In contrast, brachycephalic dogs with short snouts, like the Pug or Shih Tzu, have a reduced number of olfactory receptors due to the limited nasal cavity volume.

Dogs gather a great deal of information through their sense of smell. By smelling another dog, they can determine its gender, emotional state, and approximate age. It’s as if they are having a brief conversation and exchanging business cards. It’s no wonder that dogs are used in search and rescue operations. They also have the ability to detect certain diseases through their sense of smell.

The olfactory capabilities of these trackers are truly astounding. Now that you have an understanding of how well dogs can smell, you might be interested in learning about how dogs see. Do they perceive colors like humans, and is it true that they have night vision? In our article, you can explore the fascinating details of dogs’ vision.