11 Dog Breeds With The Best Sense Of Smell

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Great tracking dogs are intelligent, hard-working, and love when there is a job to be done, while the best tracking dogs are listed in this article. Check it now.

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 with 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, tracking dogs, and so on.

Tracking Dogs

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 part of the brain that 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 tracking dogs that are on this list are experts when it comes to tracking skills.

Tracking dogs 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 for many police actions.

These dogs with long ears are not known as biters, which is a treat that makegs 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.

Good to know: Bloodhounds can stick to a trail for more than 130 miles

German Shepherd

German Shepherds are commonly the first choice as military and police dogs.

They have great working ethics and are amazing when it comes to training. Plus, German Shepherds overall they love being around people, making training an easy process.

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, making them one of the finest tracking dogs.

These heavy shedders 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.

Good to know: German Shepherds are great runners, they are great for long runs as they can run more than ten miles in a single run


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 one of the best tracking dogs.

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.

Good to know: Beagles are among the most difficult breeds to train as they were bred to be independent hunting dogs

Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois, next to the German Shepherd, is considered to be the 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.

Not sure if you should get a Malinois or a German Shepherd? If so, learn about their similarities and differences.

Good to know: Belgian Malinois is one of the most athletic breeds in the canine world, making them suitable only for outdoorsy owners with experience in dog ownership.

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever is a favorite dog breed in the States.

They are continually among AKC’S most popular dog breeds, and for several 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.

Good to know: Labrador Retrievers are commonly used for blood tracking deer


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.

As tracking dogs, 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:

Good to know: Coonhounds has so powerful smell sense that they can trails that are old for weeks

Basset Hound

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 Bloodhounds, although they have fewer scent receptors.

Since their ears and floppy and long extra care 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.

These famous tracking dogs also love being around other dogs, and they are even comfortable with being around horses.

Good to know: Today, Basset Hounds are one of the best performing dogs in AKC Scent Work and Tracking field

German Shorthaired Pointer

German Shorthaired Pointer is a large-size dog often with a brown coat and white spots. They also have large noses that are there to keep track of different smells.

As tracking dogs, these Pointers 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.

It is common for best tracking dogs to have great endurance and willingness to follow people around all day long.

All-day-long tracking is something that feels natural to German Shorthaired Pointers, as 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.

Good to know: German Shorthaired Pointer is a breed with a naturally strong hunting instinct which is why they should always be on a leash when on a walk

Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard is the breed responsible for saving countless people from the most remote mountain area.

Did you know that Saint Bernard is one of the best tracking dogs alive, which is why they are the number one choice for avalanche dog teams?

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 that can find a victim in a matter of minutes, even under heavy snow.

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 important.

Good to know: Saint Bernards can find both injured and lost people deep in the mountains

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.

Good to know: English Springer Spaniel is a great breed for runners, as they can spend an entire day out running


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. Although they are city dogs, Dachshunds are still considered to be one of the best tracking dogs around.

Bear in mind that 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.

Good to know: Dachshunds are not bred to be hunting dogs, but they can assist in blood tracking

How Are Dogs So Good At Tracking?

Although tracking may seem like a complicated and daunting process for dogs, it’s 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.

Best Tracking Dogs – Conclusion

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 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.

Frequently Asked Questions On Best Tracking Dogs

1. What Is The Best Dog For Tracking Wounded Deer?

The top three breeds for tracking wounded deer are Bloodhound, Labrador Retriever, and Cur. Other breeds that can assist in tracking wounded deer are German Wire-Haired Dachshund.

2. Can Any Dog Be Trained To Track?

Any dog can be trained to track to a certain extent. What was the breed originally bred for plays a big role in a dog’s tracking abilities.

For example, companion dogs won’t be great at tracking, but they will be able to scent hidden treats around your home.

Proper training can include scent work as a specific part of training.

3. What Is The Difference Between A Tracking Dog And A Trailing Dog?

Tracking dogs are carefully trained to follow in a person’s footsteps. They can follow the ground on which a person walked.

Trailing dogs are trained to follow a human scent whenever it might be, including both the ground and the air.

4. What Age Should You Start Training A Dog To Track?

Dogs can learn basic commands as of 6 weeks of age, while dogs for AKC competitions are commonly trained as soon as they turn five weeks.

When it comes to training dogs it would be best to consult a professional dog trainer and think about puppy classes.

How do I get my dog certified as a tracking dog? To get this sort of certificate an AKC judge must assign it to you. A dog must complete a specific track under the observation of the judge.

Good to know: What are the four D’s in dog training? The four D’s of dog training stand for: distance, distraction, duration, and difficulty.

5. What States Can You Use A Dog To Track Deer?

When it comes to deer hunting, and hunting in general, it is always best to check the state’s regulations first.

As of today, deer hunting is allowed in eleven states, including Kansas, Indiana, and Ohio.