If you think the scent hounds breeds only like to smell the empty wrappers or bags you hid in your coat pocket or pouches, think twice! Scent hound breeds are the most famous hunting hounds. They can track the scent of another animal for days while running through fields, bush, or even running water. They are physically built for the hunt, possessing exceptional tenacity and the stamina needed to pursue the quarry with relentless determination.
And when it comes to knowing about noses, these Scent hound breeds won’t stop until they have tracked down the source of the scent.
A dog’s nose is a pretty magical thing with about 300 million olfactory receptors. A sense of smell that scientists have determined is 10,000 to 100,000 more acute than humans. It is safe to say that all dogs are impressive when it comes to the power of their snouts. But some are even more impressive than others.
Scent hounds are a class of dogs that primarily use scent – rather than sight – to navigate the world around them. They generally have long ears that hang close to the ground and small statures to ensure they are always close to the actual place of action. So, who are the best of the best when it comes to getting their nose to work?
Here are the ten most popular scent hound breeds:
Beagles are known to have one of the best noses in the canine kingdom, as well as a keen intelligence that comes in handy when you are trying to pick up a particular scent. It is considered one of the best scent hounds for hunting rabbits. Their small size, as well as their athleticism and natural affinity for agility, make them an impressive and formidable scent dog with plenty of energy to stay on the trail for hours.
Height: 13 to 15 inches
Weight: 20 to 30 pounds
Physical characteristics: Short, muscular, and firm, with long ears and a standard tri-color coat; long tails carried high, and a square muzzle and snout-both ideal for keeping the nose as close to the ground as possible.
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This Viennese dog breed is not just for show. Despite its small size, Dachshund is a sought-after hunter, using its nose to track subtle scents on the ground and in the air. It is the only breed of scent hounds that may hunt both below and above ground – pretty impressive for such small pups. Its name translates into “badger dog,” from the German. A strong sense of smell means it can track wounded animals for far off distances.
Height: 8 to 9 inches (standard), 5 to 6 inches (miniature).
Weight: 16 to 32 pounds (standard), less than 11 pounds (miniature).
Physical characteristics: Long, muscular body and short legs with an elongated head that allows them to dig their nose into the ground with minimal effort; short-haired, long-haired and wiry coat varieties.
The Basset Hound is another breed with an incredible scenting ability to pick up and track even the most subtle scents. It is no surprise that they are also quite stocky. Originally from France used for hunting hare, their name translates into the base (low). This speedy dog has an excellent ability to ground-scent. Their naturally strong instinct for the hunt makes them a favorite among hunters.
Height: less than 15 inches
Weight: 40 to 65 pounds
Physical characteristics: Stocky with long ears and a rectangular appearance; droopy, sometimes red eyes; stooped legs.
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Blue tick Coonhound
There are quite a few Coonhounds, including Bluetick, American, Black and Tan, and Redbone, and all have highly regarded nose and scent work skills. The various Coonhound breeds differ in their suitability. Some are best suited for fresh trails, while others are better for old.
The blue tick is a distinctive-looking scent hound. They have roots in the Deep South, where they used to hunt raccoons and squirrels, cornering them in trees and baying to alert the hunter. Its great tenacity in tracking even faint scents makes him a natural hunting partner. Its name comes from its distinctive blue-tinged coat with a mottled or ticking pattern.
Height: 20 to 25 inches.
Weight: 40 to 100 pounds
Physical characteristics: the typical drooping ears, long legs and long tails.
English Springer Spaniel
There is no scent that an English Springer Spaniel cannot detect. It is an expert at picking up scents both in hot and cold and wet and dry conditions. This ability is impressive and has made the English Springer Spaniel a preferred breed for tracking explosives, narcotics and human remains. This feisty little Brit is a great companion for hunters.
Height: 19 to 20 inches
Weight: 40 to 50 pounds
Physical characteristics: Its body is compact with feathers on ears, chest and legs. Legs are capable enough for travelling at great speed.
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We cannot miss the Bloodhound off this list. Bloodhounds are one of the original chase scent hound breeds. They were brought to the hunt in 1000 AD from Belgium for deer and wild boar. They have a one-track mind that refuses to give up a scent once they find it. It is almost impossible to get them back under control.
This mournful-looking scent hound is the granddaddy of all tracking dogs.
Height: 23 to 27 inches
Weight: 80 to 110 pounds
Physical characteristics: Distinct physical characteristics such as huge ears, loose skin, and notorious wrinkled faces and necks. One of the most physically powerful scent dog breeds. It has a long frame that covers a large area when standing in one place.
Petit basset griffon vendeen
The dog resembles the Shih Tzu, but Petit Basset Griffon Vendeens are widely known for their high odour tracking abilities. This scent hounds breed has been using its superior nose work skills for centuries to track rabbits and other small prey due to its short and wiry coat, with a remarkable ability to stay on the right track regardless of terrain or external conditions.
The origin is France and Belgium, where it was ideal for tracking rabbits and other small prey. It has a short and wiry coat which help it to hunt. Short in stature but big on tenacity. Its ability to pick up scents in the harshest conditions made him a popular hunting companion.
Height: 13 to 15 inches
Weight: 25 to 40 pounds
Physical characteristics: Short and stout, with tousled hair and deep eyes. Carry themselves tall and proud, with a cute beard that makes them quite irresistible.
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You may not know much about the Harrier, an English scent hound breed that barely figures in popular dog culture. Harriers are not new to hunting, with short legs and strong noses. They can closely follow any animal on which they set their snouts.
This English-bred dog breed has a large nose, open nostrils and loose lips. Their shorter legs allow the hunter to follow them on horse or foot and are known for their prowess hunting rabbit and other small prey.
Height: 19 to 21 inches
Weight: 45 to 60 pounds
Physical characteristics: Similar to a beagle in look but smaller than the foxhound. Abundantly strong and have low-set ears and loose lips that are equally important to their scent-seeking abilities.
It is no wonder that this energetic dog with a tremendous sense of smell was bred in Germany back in the 17th century specifically for hunting. This dog breed is good at tracking scents both on land and water. It is a versatile companion for hunters.
Black and Tan Coonhound
Just by looking at it, you know that this American-bred dog has Bloodhound in it. It is considered capable of tracking everything from bears to cougars, but as its name implies, it mostly hunts raccoons. Long strides, a loud howl, and a sharp nose make it a favorite for hunting.
All dogs have an extraordinary sense of smell, but they are not worthy of being a scent hound. Some breeds that are not ideal if you are looking for scent hounds are English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Boxers, and especially non-scent hound dogs such as Greyhounds, Whippets, and Chinese Crested.