How Strong Is A Dog’s Sense Of Smell?

It’s no secret that dogs have an outstanding sense of smell, but recently I decided to do a bit more research to find out just how powerful the canine nose is.

Rhodesian Ridgeback

In a store loaded with dog food, Eko somehow knew from two aisles over exactly where he could find some hidden morsels

Even though I have first hand experience with Eko, I was still blown away to learn that the area of the brain responsible for interpreting smell is forty times bigger in dogs than in humans (relative to brain size).  And while humans have a paltry five million smell-sensitive receptors, dogs can have up to three-hundred million.  This all adds up to an estimate that a dog’s sense of smell is between one-hundred thousand to one million times more powerful than humans!

Windy City Bandit

Now I don’t feel so bad that Eko can still find the treats I hide from sight

Try as we might, humans just can’t compete with a dog’s nose.  And boy, have we tried.  Despite all our advances in modern medical technology, studies show that a trained dog’s sense of smell is the most effective form of screening for some types of cancer.

And – make sure you’re sitting down for this one – the Pentagon recently spent over $19 billion to research and develop a next-generation bomb detector.  Humbled, and with his pockets $19 billion lighter, the head of the program admitted, “Dogs are the best detectors.”  In fact, dogs performed nearly twice as well as the best devices the Pentagon developed.

Rhodesian Ridgeback

And certainly no amount of money could build you a better treat detector than Eko

The more I learn about dogs and the more I learn about people, the more convinced I am that Warren Bennis’ famous prediction will come true:

“The factory of the future will have two employees: a man and a dog.  The man’s job will be to feed the dog.  The dog’s job will be to prevent the man from touching any of the automated equipment.”

Hm, now that I think about it, this is kind of how things work in my apartment already!


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