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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I read the upland lab thread and it got me to thinking and doing some research because I truly didn't know and wanted to find out.

I don't want this to become a Ford vs Chevy debate, or really a debate on the finer points of spelling on Drathaar. (Intentionally misspelled- btw).

I realize that all dogs noses aren't the same, even within the same breed.

We all hear about the merits of pointers having the best noses, GSP, Wirehair, Pudelpointer, etc. I don't disagree with those findings.

It did get me to thinking that I haven't seen any of those dogs in airports as bomb sniffing, banned food, drug, etc.

Many K-9 units are Belgian Malinois, German Shepherd, and some drug dogs are labs. I've seen a lot of beagles at customs looking for banned substances. There are cadaver dogs that can smell human remains 15 feet below the ground. Many of those are labs and other breeds.

Bloodhounds have the most sensative noses according to what I have researched. One article says labs are #4 on the scale, but I've also seen labs run right over birds that pointers found. So, there's going to be fluctuation between breeds.

Is it hunting style that would make one assume that a nose is better? Is it training and working with the dog? Some dogs are better than others. Some have more drive. Others don't have the heart to get into the weeds and brush to find birds. Some have noses that don't need to get into the nasty stuff till they smell one.

What are your thoughts? Interesting research and I had a good time doing it. I love to learn. Makes me think that my lab who supposedly points is still learning the ropes. He's only 2. I would actually love to have a lab and pudelpointer tandem.
 

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I think that some dogs will genetically have a better nose than others, but even a dog with a "bad" nose still has more than enough nose to be a good hunter. In my experience with Labs and Chesapeakes it takes a few seasons of practice and training before they really learn how to use their nose in the field, most dogs really seem to come into their own in their 3rd or 4th season. Of course a lot of practice in the offseason with blind retrieves, especially in heavy cover, can speed things along.

My lab just finished her 4th duck season, and her nose has gotten better and better every year, but if she's looking for a downed bird it will still sometimes take her a few minutes to settle down and start using her nose instead of just running and running from excitement.
 

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I'm going to take an educated guess that the working dogs that you see being used for sniffing out contraband are so much easier to train (on average) for that type of work than a GSP (on average) for example that there just is no cost benefit to training the "superior noses" of the other breeds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm going to take an educated guess that the working dogs that you see being used for sniffing out contraband are so much easier to train (on average) for that type of work than a GSP (on average) for example that there just is no cost benefit to training the "superior noses" of the other breeds.
What about Beagles? They're notoriously tough to train. But that is a very good thought I hadn't considered.
 

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There's a lot more that goes into the matrix for what dogs are used for K9, detection, etc. than just how good their nose is. Trainability, temperament, cooperation, etc.

That being said, I do know of at least one PP that is an airport security/bomb/drug sniffing dog and a handful of GWPs.

When a dog runs over a bird, there are a lot of reasons why that might happen, and even really good pointing dogs will do it too from time to time. Scenting conditions, too much energy, lack of focus, uncertainty in the dog as to what you are trying to get them to do, and more.

I think generally hound breeds probably have the best noses--but they are not used as much for other types of tasks due to energy levels and the difficulties in training them to do anything but scent, track, and bay. I would also place the pointing/versatile breeds above labs and goldens for nosework though, based purely on my anecdotal experience.
 

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What about Beagles? They're notoriously tough to train. But that is a very good thought I hadn't considered.
I had a beagle. She was a good family dog, and had exactly ZERO prey drive in her. But hot ****, did that dog have a NOSE. I swear she could smell my kids thinking about getting a snack. Thankfully she was an unusual beagle in that she rarely wandered off or tried to escape, but that dog was one of the hardest headed, stubborn dogs I've ever worked with--surpassed only by the siberian huskies we used to have.

I think you still see beagles used for drug/bomb/security detection because once you do get them to learn something, it stays well learned. Plus, they don't look "scary" and are small and easier to control than other dogs.
 

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olfactory receptor cells vary in number and type by breed and genetics and training. some breeds, like blood hounds, have many more than say a labrador.

we use labradors for their trainability and suitability to the environment they will operate in. we then unlock their nose's potential through training.
 

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Labs are the easiest dogs to train. Hands down. This is why they are used a lot for Cadaver, Rescue, Drug, Bomb etc.
I can tell you about times my labs have brought up roosters that had been overran by pointers. For years we did a bird dog challenge and Labs won it every year. This isn't to say that I think labs are the best choice for Chukars, Huns, Quail etc. They are not. But Waterfowl, Grouse and Pheasants bring it on. ic
 

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Labs are the easiest dogs to train. Hands down. This is why they are used a lot for Cadaver, Rescue, Drug, Bomb etc.
I can tell you about times my labs have brought up roosters that had been overran by pointers. For years we did a bird dog challenge and Labs won it every year. This isn't to say that I think labs are the best choice for Chukars, Huns, Quail etc. They are not. But Waterfowl, Grouse and Pheasants bring it on. ic
same reason we run multiple dogs on an avalanche site. usually the slower more methodical dog will get something on the first pass that the fast dog is working back over to after passing it. dogs can have off days too.
 

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Interesting question, Caddis8. My guess is similar to others--the dog comes as a package deal and they aren't selecting it strictly for the strength of its nose. However, I know a breeder in UT who occasionally places his Wirehaired pointing griffons as Search and Rescue dogs, including avalanche work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well...

I'd have to say you gotta have a few beagles cuz they are sooo cute. :mrgreen:
Neighbor used to have a beagle. It stopped being cute when it howled and barked whenever we were out in the yard, at my house.

But our friends had a beagle that was a rescue dog. It was a little grumpy, but didn't make much noise.

Had friends with a beagle and that dog didn't last 2 years with them before they gave it away. Barked, bawled, and dug through the fence. They replaced with a bassett hound mix. HATED that dog. It was food aggressive, territorial, wouldn't listen, and was a generally terrible dog. I put a lot of that on the owner of the dog, however.

Good dogs are made, not bred. A dog with great breeding is still subject to the owner and can be turned to a moron quickly.
 

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I’ve had English Pointers, Springers and Labs!! Currently utilizing a pointing lab!! Great nose!! I did see Springers being used in the UK for contraband and drugs! To each their own!!
 

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There's a book I read years ago before I got my first Belgian sheepdog for SAR called "The intelligence of dogs." Definitely outdated now, but it's a very practical book that was a good read and influenced my thinking on training, breed characteristics, and canines' capabilities.
 

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My lab has a terrible nose but amazing ears. She can hear our refrigerator open while she is outside during a thunderstorm on the 4th of July with a marching band playing down the street.
 

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My lab has a terrible nose but amazing ears. She can hear our refrigerator open while she is outside during a thunderstorm on the 4th of July with a marching band playing down the street.
We must have litter mates. Every time my wife thinks the dogs might be deaf she carefully unwraps a string cheese and they magically appear from the furthest corner of the house.
 

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As long as we are comparing noses I must say my Chessie had the best nose of any dog I have seen - I have had and hunted with Labs, Goldens and Drahts - most Chessie owners say the same thing about their dogs - for whatever reason it seems like the Chessie's don't get the credit they should - probably why the breed is still predictable.
 

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I used to be a K9 Handler (ran 2 separate Bomb Dogs). I've seen a few Drahthaar's being utilized as detection dogs lately. Breed selection is based on the Olfactory system, essentially the longer the snout the better the Olfactory system (theoretically, individual dogs vary). Therefore, hounds with their long snouts have the highest potential of having the best sniffer, then working down from their. This is why you don't see pugs, bull dogs, boxers etc. used as detection dogs. However, selecting an individual dog should be based on the individual dogs natural drives and abilities. The higher the dogs hunt drive, the more they will use their nose to "hunt". You could have a really high hunt drive lab and low hunt drive hound and the lab will out perform the hound in locating prey every time.

So, to answer your question, Drive is the #1 most important thing, followed by trainability. If you don't have those 2 things you have a nice yard ornament. If you have those 2 things, you're going to have a ton of fun with your dog if you put in the work, irregardless of breed.
 
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