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Sense of smell in dogs - Can dogs smell diseases?

4 years ago - Views

Sense of smell in dogs - Can dogs smell diseases?

The sense of smell is an important guide for dogs. They can perceive their entire environment. It's widely known that dogs have a very highly developed olfactory organ and that they can smell much better than humans. Why dogs do smell so good, what they all can sniff and where this ability is used by humans, you will get to know in this article.




Sens of smell in dogs - Tony the Pug


Why can dogs smell so good?

Dogs belong to the nose animals (macrosmatic) and have a very developed sense of smell. A human has about 5 million olfactory cells, while a Dachshund has 125 million and a German Shepherd about 220 million olfactory cells.

The part of the brain, which is responsible for analyzing odors is in dogs is about 10%, while in man only 1% is reserved for it.


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In addition, the olfactory mucosa is about 150 square centimeters big (in humans only five). In order to imagine it better the size of the olfactory mucosa in humans is as big as a postage stamp. In dogs it has the size of an A4 sheet.

Dogs that have a longer nose, the olfactory mucosa is greater and they may accordingly smell better than dogs with a flat nose.

Dogs can move their two nostrils independently of each other. This helps them to determine the direction of a smell. They can easily breathe 300 times per minute.



Amazing is the fact that a dog that directs his nose in direction of a smell, and can interrupt actively his respiration, so that the sniffed odors may lead in a bony and comb-like structure in the nasal cavity.

This nasal cavity serves to capture the air and to avoid that it does not re-emerges during exhalation. Thus, the odor molecules remain in the nose and the dog can save many of them in the nasal cavity until he can perceive it.

What can dogs sniffing out?

The following are some examples of how dogs can use their excellent sense of smell.


Dogs, especially bloodhounds, are also very good at recognizing tracks by smell and sniff out running directions. Even after several days, they can record a track and follow over many miles.


Dogs can amazingly sniffing out, even certain diseases. They can warn against epileptic seizures or hyperglyceamia and low blood sugar level or can even smell certain cancers. On the basis of the exhaled air of humans, urine or fecal samples dogs could prove in different studies that they can detect ovarian-, lung-, bladder-, colon- or breast-cancer. The hit rate was over 90 percent.

Drugs and explosives

In customs controls each of us has seen the customs officers usually accompanied by a shepherd dog. These dogs are usually specialized and trained to sniffing out explosives and certain drugs in the luggage and to signal it to the customs officials. The dogs can smell these substances so good that they also alarm when these are covered in plastic or by strong foreign odors.


Emotions are nothing more than biochemical processes that release substances. If we are excited or angry the pulse increases and we sweat. Here fragrance molecules are released that dogs can sniff out.


Truffle dogs can sniff out this much-coveted and rare mushrooms that grow on the underground in forests and are also hard to find. In the past truffle pigs were used for searching. These had usually damaged the truffles or even eaten them while trained truffle dogs leave them undamaged.

People in accidents and natural disasters

In many accidents and natural disasters rescue dogs are no longer indispensable. Such dogs discover injured person in avalanches or collapsed buildings, which could not be helped or detected by using technical assistive devices as fast or not at all.


Food can be detected by any dog very well and also from larger distances. A dog finds in a new household immediately the kitchen.

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Read also:

---> How well do dogs understand our body language?

---> Can dogs see colors?

---> Why do dogs raise the leg while peeing?

---> Why do dogs bark / growl and what they want to tell us?

---> Do dogs see us as surrogate parents?

---> Can dogs smile?

---> Can dogs watch TV?

---> Can dogs love?

---> Indoor games and activities with the dog

---> Dog training: Set limits and allow freedoms?

---> Aggression in dogs

---> Vaccinations for the dog - How my dog stays healthy - Part 2/33





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