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10 Dog Breeds with the Best Sense of Smell: A Sniff Above the Rest

by | 7 May 2024

Ever catch your furry friend sniffing around and wonder if they’re onto something? Well, it turns out that some dog breeds have noses that’re truly a sniff above the rest! Today, we’re unleashing the secrets behind the top 10 dog breeds with the best sense of smell.

Why does this matter, especially for us Aussies? From bushwalking to beach trips, having a dog with a keen sense of smell can transform outdoor adventures. Plus, these breeds offer unique companionship thanks to their incredible sensory skills.

Diving nose-first into our guide, you’ll discover which breeds can out-sniff the competition and how this remarkable trait can be a game-changer in your everyday life. Let’s track down the facts and uncover these sensational sniffers!

Dogs With The Best Sense Of Smell

Bloodhound – The Sherlock Holmes of the Dog World

Picture of a Bloodhound that have a great sense of smell

When it comes to a nose that can out-sniff the competition, the Bloodhound is the reigning champion. Renowned for their incredible tracking abilities, these dogs have been instrumental in law enforcement and search and rescue efforts worldwide. Their sense of smell is so refined that evidence scented by Bloodhounds has been used in court cases. 

Bloodhounds are gentle giants that form deep bonds with their handlers. Their long, wrinkled faces and droopy ears enhance their scenting ability, trapping smells close to their nose. Despite their somewhat solemn appearance, they are affectionate and friendly, making them excellent companions, especially in active families who enjoy the great outdoors.

Basset Hound – The Low-Rider with High-Scenting Abilities

Picture of a Basset Hound
Basset Hound

Don’t let the Basset Hound’s short legs and droopy eyes mislead you; these dogs are formidable scent trackers. Originating from France, their keen nose is ideal for following ground scents, which is why they were originally bred for hunting small game. While they may move at a slower pace, their stamina in tracking scents over long distances is impressive. 

Basset Hounds are also incredibly sociable and gentle with both children and other pets, making them a perfect fit for family life where they can sniff around a backyard or accompany their owners on leisurely walks.

Beagle – The Merry Sniffer


Beagles are small, compact, and have an almost magical prowess for scent detection. This breed is often employed at airports and border crossings to detect restricted or dangerous goods because they are unassuming but astute. Their friendly demeanour and wagging tails disguise a sophisticated nose that can decipher a complex palette of scents. 

These dogs are also known for their boundless energy and curious nature, which makes them ideal for families with active lifestyles. Whether they’re employed in professional roles or enjoying life as a pet, Beagles bring joy and activity to any home.

German Shepherd – The Versatile Scent Worker

Picture of German Shepherd lying on outdoor picnic table
German Shepherd

German Shepherds are not only one of the most popular breeds worldwide but also one of the most capable when it comes to scent work. Their intelligence and versatility make them excellent in roles such as police work, search and rescue, and even medical detection, where they’re trained to sniff out diseases. 

The loyalty and protectiveness of German Shepherds are unmatched, making them ideal family pets. They thrive when given a job to do and enjoy being part of activities that challenge their mind and body.

Belgian Malinois – The Agile Detective

Picture of Belgian Malinois
Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois is often mistaken for a German Shepherd due to their similar coat and build, but they are a distinct breed known for their extraordinary scenting ability and agility. They are the breed of choice for many military and police forces around the world.

Highly trainable and extremely loyal, Malinois requires regular mental and physical stimulation to stay happy. Their sharp minds and active bodies make them ideal for competitive sports and complex training routines, aligning perfectly with handlers who lead dynamic, active lives.

Labrador Retriever –  The Friendly Sniffer

Picture of Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers are not only America’s favourite dog but also possess some of the best noses. They are commonly used in search and rescue missions and in the detection of explosives and narcotics, thanks to their powerful sense of smell and eagerness to please.

Aside from their work capabilities, Labradors are famously friendly and sociable, making them excellent family pets. They blend seamlessly into various family settings, bonding with members of all ages.

Coonhound – The Night-Time Navigator

Picture of Coonhound

Coonhounds, a breed known for their ability to track scents over vast distances, excel particularly in rugged terrains at night. Their stamina and determination make them excellent companions for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts who require a dog that can follow complex trails. 

These dogs have a deep, melodious bark that is music to a hunter’s ears but can be a bit much for quieter neighbourhoods. Social and easygoing, Coonhounds make great pets if they have enough space to roam and a job to do.

English Springer Spaniel – The Energetic Scent Enthusiast

Picture of English Springer Spaniel
English Springer Spaniel

English Springer Spaniels are cheerful and agile, with a finely-tuned nose that makes them exceptional at flushing and retrieving game. Their enthusiasm for tracking is matched by their love for interaction, making them excellent family pets as well as hunting companions. 

Springer Spaniels require regular exercise to manage their energy levels and are happiest when they can run, swim, and play to their heart’s content. Their sociable nature makes them a joy to train and a favourite among dog lovers who appreciate a spirited companion.

Pointer – The Precision Sniffer

Picture of Pointer

Pointers, with their characteristic alert posture and laser-focused gaze, are born hunters. Their nose leads their body, and they use every scent particle to their advantage. Pointers are particularly adept at field trials and hunting games, where their scenting ability truly shines. 

While they are fiercely independent on the trail, Pointers are gentle and affectionate at home. They mesh well with active families who can provide them with plenty of space and structured activities.

Dachshund – The Tiny Tracker with a Big Nose

Picture of Dachshund

Dachshunds may be small, but their hunting spirit is mighty. Originally bred to hunt badgers, their sense of smell is finely honed to detect ground scents. Despite their stature, they are fearless and persistent, traits necessary for any good scent hound. Their playful nature and unique appearance make them beloved pets. 

Dachshunds fit well into various living situations, from apartments to homes with large yards, as long as they get enough mental stimulation and exercise.

Dog’s Who Have The Best Sense Of Smell FAQs

1. Which dog breed has the best sense of smell for family adventures?

The best breed for family adventures that require a keen sense of smell would undoubtedly be the Labrador Retriever. Labradors are not only friendly and easy to train, but they also have an excellent nose for tracking and are always ready for a challenge, whether it’s a hike in the bush or a day at the beach. 

Their sociable nature and robust build make them perfect companions for active families who love exploring the great outdoors. Beagles and Springer Spaniels also make great family adventure companions thanks to their curious nature and stamina.

2. How can I train my scent-sensitive dog to help with tasks around the house?

Training a scent-sensitive dog to assist with household tasks can be both fun and rewarding. Start with simple scent games like hiding treats or favourite toys around the house for your dog to find. This helps to harness their natural sniffing capabilities in a controlled environment. Gradually, you can introduce more complex tasks like finding specific items by scent, such as keys or your phone. 

Always use positive reinforcement, like treats or praises, to reward your dog for successfully completing a task. Consistency and patience are key in scent training, as it enhances your dog’s natural abilities and helps to keep them mentally stimulated.

3. What are the best environments for scent-detective dogs?

Scent-detective dogs thrive in environments that challenge their olfactory skills. Rural and natural settings, like forests, parks, or countryside areas (remember to take your poop bags), are ideal because they contain myriad scents for dogs to explore. These environments often have varied and rich smells that are not found in urban settings, from wild animals to native plants, providing a stimulating scent buffet for your dog. 

However, urban environments can also be suitable, especially for training purposes, as they offer different challenges, such as tracking human scents among concrete and vehicles. The key is to ensure that whatever environment you choose, it should be safe and secure for your dog to explore without risk.


As we’ve seen, these 10 dog breeds are truly a sniff above the rest. Each has its own unique scent-detecting abilities that can add adventure and joy to your life. Whether you’re exploring the Australian outback or simply enjoying a day out at the beach, these dogs have the noses that know.

Thinking of bringing a keen-nosed companion into your home? Consider these breeds for an adventurous and fulfilling partnership.

Got a nose for more canine content or want to share your sniff-tastic stories? Drop us a comment below or tag us on social media with your best doggo scent adventure! #OhCrapFamily

<a href="" target="_self">Henry Reith</a>

Henry Reith

Henry is proud to be one of the crapologists at Oh Crap, and specialises in crap jokes & sharing paw-some content.

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