Did you know dogs can smell while exhaling and can also smell separately from their left and right nostril? There's a lot you might not know about your dog's most powerful tool - Let's dive into some amazing things a dog's nose can accomplish:

What's That Smell

Inside their nose, dogs have 300 million olfactory receptors, while we humans only have around 400 receptors. Dogs have the ​​vomeronasal organ - also known as Jacobson's organ. This organ conveys pheromones to the brain to communicate reproductive or other social purposes.

Because of this, we utilize their gift to help us as often as we can. Dogs doing scent detection work can have many types of jobs. There are dogs that can sniff out explosives, dogs that help with conservation and wildlife, dogs that can locate illegal contraband, dogs that can track down a bed bug infestation, and cadaver dogs that help find human remains.

One example of a conservation scent detection dog is Tucker. He is a black Lab mix. Tucker smells for Orca excrement in the ocean to help scientists learn about their diets. You can read more about Tucker here.

black Lab mix

Cobra is a Belgian Malinois that was originally used in Hawaii to help detect a specific fungus on avocado trees. After her time in Hawaii, she was trained to detect Covid-19 in humans. She was the first dog to ever be certified in Covid-19 detection.

Cobra is a Belgian Malinois

Scientists continue to test and study dog noses and nostrils. One recent study was done to try and figure out which nostrils dogs use to smell specific items. When the dogs were presented with noxious scents, the right nostril was more reactive. Then when they were presented with items like food, the dogs started with their right nostril and then shifted to their left.

This study led them to discover that what goes in the right nostril is being processed on the right side of the brain, and what goes in the left nostril is processed on the left side. Each side of the brain controls different tasks and behaviors.

dogs use to smell specific items

One special thing you can do for your own pup is take them on a scent walk. Scent walks are a great way to help your dog decompress. These types of walks focus on your dog taking the lead of where they walk, not being pulled along, and getting to sniff and explore as much as they want.

Every one of us has a busy schedule, and sometimes, walking the dog has to focus on getting from one place to another or taking a potty break. However, giving your dog more time to explore when your schedule permits is an easy way to provide stress-relieving enrichment in your dog’s day.


For our dogs, sniffing is about gathering information. When you combine that with a walk, you are exercising their bodies as well as their minds.

So make sure to take your pup out for a sniffari soon and let them do what they do!