Dog Noses- Subjective or Objective Evidence? - Utah Wildlife Network

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Old 01-31-2020, 08:31 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Dog Noses- Subjective or Objective Evidence?

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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Old 01-31-2020, 10:19 AM   #2 (permalink)
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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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Old 01-31-2020, 01:36 PM   #3 (permalink)
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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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Old 01-31-2020, 01:48 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
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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.
What about Beagles? They're notoriously tough to train. But that is a very good thought I hadn't considered.
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Old 01-31-2020, 01:56 PM   #5 (permalink)
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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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Old 01-31-2020, 02:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by caddis8 View Post
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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Old 01-31-2020, 05:20 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I believe one reason you see more Labs as drug dogs, is because they tend to be not as hyper as a GSP, GWHP, etc.
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Old 01-31-2020, 08:22 PM   #8 (permalink)
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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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Old 02-01-2020, 09:17 AM   #9 (permalink)
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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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Old 02-01-2020, 06:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZEKESMAN View Post
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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