10 Surprising Things Dogs Can Smell

For the vast majority of humans, perception is handled through sight. While hearing, sense of touch, taste and smell do play major roles in our lives, how we perceive the world or our reality is defined by sight.

For dogs, this isn't the case. Dogs see the world with their nose first. The concept of smell is the primary input for dogs and is a way to understand and see the world. While they do see us and hear us, they can detect our presence with their sense of smell. Their noses are more than 10,000 times more “professional” than ours and our four legged friends let us utilize this extraordinary ability for our advantage.

We employ them as sniffer dogs in airports and police stations to detect things that are hard to find with the naked eyes. Their sense of smell has helped us solve thousands of cases but it's not just hidden money or DVD's that dogs are capable of smelling.

They are capable of finding just about anything with that sensitive nose. Here, we are listing some impressive things that they can sniff out!

High Blood Sugar

Thinking of Diabetes? You’re spot on. Dogs are able to detect, using that nose, when blood sugar levels in the body of humans are becoming dangerously high. This is especially helpful for children with Diabetes who don’t always have a parent around to help monitor, like at school. These dogs can be used as service dogs to help keep their owners safe and healthy.

Drowned Bodies

Water search dogs are often used by police in the USA to locate and recover drowned corpses. But how exactly could a dog smell a body through all that water? Well, the scent of drowned bodied is released into the water currents, which then end up being released into the air. The dogs—which can work either from the shore, from a boat, or even while swimming in the water—track this scent to its strongest point, the body itself.

Whale Poop

Whale poop is often analyzed by scientists to monitor the health of whales, as it often contains important information about their diet. But there’s one problem: the poop sinks within half an hour of leaving the whale, meaning that scientists need to get their hands on it as soon as possible. For this reason, one group has started training dogs to detect the poop. The dogs can trace its scent from a distance of more than one mile (1.6 km), and lead scientists to the smelly treasure. When the dog has detected the whale waste, he points out the location to the boat captain by either leaning left or right, or twitching his left or right ear.


Cancer stinks—in more ways than one. Cancer cells have a distinctive smell that can be picked up by the super-sensitive noses of dogs. In patients with lung- or breast-cancer, it’s known that these waste products are exhaled whenever a patient breathes, so a group of dogs have been trained to sniff people’s breath and alert them if they smell cancer.

Minerals and Ores

The government in Finland financed a program that taught dogs to detect valuable sulphide-containing rocks. When the rocks break apart, they release a smell not unlike rotting eggs, which the dogs can track easily. So easily, in fact, that, during one hunt a dog found a deposit of “great economic significance.”

Underwater Remains

Yes, that does mean human remains. Most of us are aware that dogs are trained for both live find search and rescue and cadaver finds. We’d always rather have them save someone, but unfortunately that’s not always the case. When things get ugly, sometimes bodies are underwater. But our dogs have the amazing ability to find them no matter where they may be. SAR groups will take their trained dogs on boats over bodies of water, and believe it or not, the dogs will indicate above water where the remains are hiding below.

Bed Bugs

The modern age of widespread air travel is causing a near-apocalyptic surge in the number of cases of bed bug infestations. In response to this, pest control services have sprung up whereby—in exchange for a hefty fee—a dog will sweep a house for bed bugs, letting you know before you purchase a new property what sort of problems you might have to deal with. Apparently, the accuracy rate is as high as 96 percent.

They can sense earthquakes, tsunamis, storms and hurricanes

Animals have existed on this planet, long before us. It could be an evolutionary trait or even a sixth sense, but dogs are capable of smelling even the slightest changes in the air before a natural event takes place. According to Animal Planet, "Wild and domestic animals, including dogs, seemed to sense the impending Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, displaying their distress with behavior changes and vocal warnings, and either ran for cover or refused to go outside."

Their heightened sense of smell combined with utmost sensitivity to geomagnetic fields and vibrations could be the way they understand changes within nature. They are also capable of detecting storms or hurricanes. Experts say that it is due to the increase in static electricity in the air that alerts them of impending storms or hurricanes.

Dogs can smell their owners as far as 11 miles away.

Dogs are capable of detecting tiny amounts of smell diluted in air, water or far beneath the ground. The Marbach Road Animal Hospital explains that dogs can pick up scents that are diluted to 1 or 2 parts per trillion; allowing them to smell things buried as far as 40 feet underground. Their ability to pick up on tiny traces of a particular scent is what allows them to follow trails that are a week old.

There have been many cases where dogs have been accidentally left behind by their owners but the pooches managed to pick up the scent and follow the trail; only to reach home safely. In 2015, a dog in Memphis, Tennessee spent two days walking 11 miles to return to the woman who rescued him from a shelter just days before. Rachel Kauffman, a vet tech, saw the photo of Hank and decided to adopt him for a few days until he was able to find a permanent home.

Rachel adopted Hank on October 24. On October 30, she was able to find him a good home. Hank only spent a mere 6 days with Rachel but he became extremely close with her in that short period of time. After Hank was moved to his new home, his new adoptee left for work. Hank somehow managed to escape the residence, pick up Rachel's scent and walk for nearly two days.


After walking for 11 miles, Hank reached Rachel's house.

“He traveled 11 miles to get back to me,” said Kauffman. “I can’t fathom how he traveled that far across town that fast to get back to me.”