Tracking dogs have been used for their skills for centuries. No one can tell precisely how long dogs have been around, but they have been around people for a very long time.
Over this time dogs’ brains evolved so much so that they could understand people even better, but their core skills remained untouched – they just evolved more and became stronger.
This is why today we have dogs in so many different areas, including search and rescue dogs, therapy dogs, companion dogs, working dogs, and so on.
Dogs are amazing when it comes to keeping humans safe, but they can be even better when it comes to finding them. Even if you are not a dog owner you know that dogs have great noses.
In fact, a dog’s olfactory system (which is the part of the brain that actually processes smell) is much higher than humans.
Does this mean that all dogs are great when it comes to tracking? Well, no.
All dogs do have a much stronger olfactory system than humans do, but dogs that are on this list are experts when it comes to tracking skills.
They have not only great noses, and amazing tracking skills, but they are also amazing when it comes to training, and have a great history of tracking ability. Here are the best tracking dogs in the world.
Bloodhound is usually the first breed that people think about when they hear the term ‘tracking dog.’
These dogs with floppy ears are worldwide known for having amazing tracking abilities.
They are great for training, fun to be around, and they love when there is a job to be done, especially if they get an opportunity to sniff around and track.
On average, humans have 5 million receptors on their membrane, while the average large dog has around 200 million, while Bloodhounds have around 300 million of these receptors.
Bloodhounds are hard-working dogs who are always incredibly focused on their job. These dogs are above average focused when they have tracking duty, even in a crowded area.
Bloodhounds can track a certain smell for miles, which is why they are often the first choice of many police actions.
These dogs with long ears are not known as biters, which is a treat that makes them very useful when it comes to searching for missing children.
Little is known, but Bloodhounds can only search for humans, which is why police and military forces usually go for the second dog on this list, the famous and highly trainable German Shepherd.
German Shepherds are commonly the first choice as military and police dogs.
They have great working ethics, they are amazing when it comes to training, and overall they love being around people.
German Shepherds are not only continually among the top three favorite dog breeds across the States, but they are equally loved and popular across the globe.
These large size dogs are notorious shedders (learn how to reduce German Shepherd shedding), but when it comes to tracking they are true stars.
They can easily and fast detect drugs, bombs, and humans. German Shepherds are highly loyal dogs, and once they bond with their humans they will stick with them through thick and thin.
If you want a protection dog, this is the breed to consider having.
Beagles may be small in size, but they are among the best tracking dogs in the world.
Did you know that these small size dogs have about 220 million smell receptors? This makes them great for tracking duties.
They are fun-loving dogs who are fast to jump into any playtime in the dog park.
If you are a first time dog owner, don’t think that they are the easiest dogs for novice owners.
Beagles are not the easiest dogs to train. If you feel like you could use help during the training phase, think about hiring a professional dog trainer.
Beagles are naturally friendly dogs, and very outgoing when it comes to meeting strangers.
They are also super fast to track any unusual or new smell, so make sure that you provide walks that are always well-secured. This means that you should always walk your Beagle on a leash.
Belgian Malinois, next to German Shepherd, is considered to be ultimate working dog.
These dogs were bred to be working dogs. They are large, muscular, heavy, and very powerful. On top of that, they are superb jumpers.
Commonly, police and military dogs, Belgian Malinois are fearless, never disturbed by fireworks or any hard sounds, and they are highly protective.
Often the first choice as protection dogs, this breed will not move from their owner’s leg until spoken otherwise.
These dogs are suitable only for experienced dog owners who know how to be around (and how to train) shepherds.
Malinois is so trainable breed, and their smell capabilities are so powerful that they can be trained to smell prostate cancer in humans.
How can they achieve this? Dogs are carefully trained to separate the scent of two different samples of urine.
Check this article to learn about the similarities and differences between the Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd.
Labrador Retriever is a favorite dog breed in the States.
They are continually among AKC’S most popular dog breeds, and for a number of reasons.
Labs are highly trainable, they love being around people, and they are calm and easier to top, please.
Plus, they enjoy outdoor activities and water, making them a great choice for active families and individuals.
Thanks to their calmness and outgoing personality Labrador Retrievers are often used as therapy dogs.
Although they are mostly used as therapy dogs, they can still be seen as part of police forces and different military teams.
Since they are very calm and peaceful dogs, Labrador Retrievers always use their tracking ability calmly and peacefully.
Coonhounds are the best dogs when it comes to tracking raccoons. They were specifically bred to sniff raccoons.
They are fast to alert owners on any usual occurrence nearby, or when there is a raccoon around.
Coonhounds love tracking raccoons, and tracking them is their favorite activity. Knowing this, it should be clear that walking a Coonhound without a leash is not an option.
Coonhounds are best suited for rural areas or spacious homes when they have more than enough space to run and track.
They need great outdoors to thrive so bear that in mind before you get this breed.
This tracking breed will always try to follow the scent, so keep them on a leash when outside your yard or home. Know that this breed comes in three varieties, including:
Basset Hound is best known for its long and floppy ears. However, when it comes to dog circles this breed is known for having a great nose and strong work ethic.
Physically, these dogs are a bit similar to Bloodhound, although they have fewer scent receptors.
Since their ears and floppy and long extra are should be put on their health and cleanliness.
Learn how to clean a dog’s ears and how to know when you should clean them. Basset Hounds are smart, obedient, and very loyal.
They also love being around other dogs, and they are even comfortable with being around horses.
German Shorthaired Pointer
German Shorthaired Pointer is a large size dog often with brown coat and white spots. They also have large noses that are there to keep track of different smells.
These dogs were bred to assist during the hunting sessions, and this is something that they do even today. These brown dogs love when there is a job to be done.
They will usually look at the ground as they move and keep their noses close to the ground to track and hunt birds and small animals by land.
These dogs are best suited for experienced dog owners who know their way around hunting dogs. German Shorthaired Pointers are active dogs, who have a lot of energy.
All-day-long tracking is something that feels natural to them, and they are not likely to get tired.
If you are thinking about getting this breed, know that they need an active individual or family, as they thrive on activities.
Learn how much exercise dogs need in general to keep them mentally stimulated and physically fit.
Saint Bernard is the breed responsible for saving countless people from the most remote mountain area.
In the mountains, when hiking or skiing, this is the breed that you want to see around.
Saint Bernards are highly trained search and rescue dogs who can find a victim in a matter of minutes.
Did you know that Saint Bernards are always trained in a couple? This is common practice because one dog can stay with the victim, while the other dog goes for help.
It is fair to say that Saint Bernard puppies have an instinctive nature that tells them what to do when they find a victim.
These giant dogs are best suited for areas that are cold or have snow the majority of the year.
If you’re based in a really hot state, you might think about getting a breed that is more tolerant of hot weather.
These dogs will be prone to heatstroke and keeping them cool on a hot day is really important.
English Springer Spaniel
English Springer Spaniel is a runner.
If you get this breed, know that off-leash walks are highly forbidden. If this dog catches an interesting smell, you won’t be able to catch him.
They are fast to react and faster to find the source of a specific smell. From day one, English Springer Spaniels were used to ‘flush’ or ‘spring’ game, which means that they would chase birds into flight so that hunters could spot (shoot) them easier and faster.
English Springer Spaniels were bred to work closely with humans, which is why they are so people-oriented and eager to please.
These hunting dogs are also highly obedient, which makes work and training time with them extra enjoyable.
Dachshund is a small size dog breed, but these dogs are big experts in catching the right smell.
They are best known for their long bodies and unusual appearance, but thanks to their overall size they’re often seen strolling the busiest streets.
Dachshunds are true city dogs, who tend to dig or always try their best to find holes where they can find something interesting.
Dachshunds have a strong drive for digging holes which is something that should be addressed during the training process.
Dachshunds will always have short legs and long bodies that enable them to follow pests and animals down their burrows.
It is only fair to say that this small breed comes with a high prey drive. Their biggest downside is that they get easily distracted by different smells.
How Are Dogs So Good At Tracking?
Although tracking may seem like a complicated and daunting process for dogs, it’s actually super easy for them.
Dogs are capable to separate human odors and environmental odors. Moreover, they can separate smells that are released by different individuals, and they can be found on that specific smell that an individual releases. That being said, dogs can not only identify different smells, but they can separate human and environmental odors.
Thanks to their powerful noses, dogs can use that specific scent to determine where to move and where to follow that specific scent.
Now, you may ask – How accurate are tracking dogs? Some research claims that search dogs can target the scent 91.6% of the time.
The Bottom Line
Dogs are capable of learning even the most challenging things. Still, some may be better at performing certain tasks. This is why we have so many different dog breeds performing various tasks.
If you are thinking about getting a tracking dog, you should know that you will have to invest serious time in training a tracking dog properly.
Many breeds are capable of learning to track or trailing work, while some are naturally better at performing tracking-related tasks.
Did you know that dogs are more than capable of mastering basic commands as of eight weeks of age?
To get the most out of this period, you should be well-prepared to create the right training environment and create result-driven training sessions.
If you are really serious about getting a tracking dog and you have enough experience start with extra research on the tracking breeds listed above.
If you want to compare them and see what breed focus suits youth best check this compare dog breeds tool to discover which breed might fit your life the best.