Top 15 Scent Hound Breeds

December 2, 2021

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?

Beagle

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.

Height13 -15 Inches
Weight20 – 30 Pounds
Height and Weight Table For Beagle

Physical characteristics of Beagle:

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.

Beagle
Beagle

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Dachshund

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.

DachshundStandard BreedMiniature Breed
Height8 – 9 Inches5 – 6 Inches
Weight16 – 32 PoundsLess than 11 Pounds

Physical characteristics of Dachshund:

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.

Dachshund
Dachshund

Basset hound

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.

HeightLess than 15 Inches
Weight40 – 65 Pounds

Physical characteristics Basset Hound:

Stocky with long ears and a rectangular appearance; droopy, sometimes red eyes; stooped legs.

Basset hound
Basset hound

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Bluetick 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.

Height20 – 25 Inches
Weight40 – 100 Pounds

Physical characteristics of Coonhound:

The typical drooping ears, long legs and long tails.

Bluetick Coonhound
Bluetick Coonhound

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.

Height19 – 20 Inches
Weight40 – 50 Pounds

Physical characteristics of English Springer Spaniel:

Its body is compact with feathers on the ears, chest, and legs. Legs are capable enough for traveling at great speed.

English Springer Spaniel

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Bloodhound

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.

Height23 – 27 Inches
Weight80 – 110 Pounds

Physical characteristics of Bloodhound:

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.

Bloodhound

Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen

The dog resembles the Shih Tzu, but Petit Basset Griffon Vendeens are widely known for their high outdoor tracking abilities. This scent hound 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 helps 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.

Height13 – 15 Inches
Weight25 – 40 Pounds

Physical characteristics of Petit Basset Griffon Vendeens:

Short and stout, with tousled hair and deep eyes. Carry themselves tall and proud, with a cute beard that makes them quite irresistible.

Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen
Petit basset griffon vendeen

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Harrier

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.

Height19 to 21 inches
Weight45 to 60 pounds

Physical characteristics of Harrier:

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.

Harrier

German Shorthair

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.

Height23 – 25 Inches
Weight55 – 70 Pounds
German Shorthair
 German Shorthair

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.

Black and Tan CoonhoundMaleFemale
Height25 to 27 Inches23 to 25 Inches
Weight50 and 75 Pounds40 and 65 Pounds
Black and Tan Coonhound

All dogs have an extraordinary sense of smell, but they are not worthy of being a scent hounds. 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.

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English Pointer

A strong and intelligent dog breed with a bold personality. One of the best hunting dogs who desperately enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking and long jogs. While they are just eight weeks old, English Pointers can be stiff and pointy as their tails align with their body and their nose are too uptight.

Height 23 to 28 inches
Weight45 to 75 pounds

If you are more of an outdoor person who enjoys walking or a quick run in nature, then an English Pointer is your go-to choice as they are independent and are a great sport.

Physical characteristics of English Pointer

English Pointers have a deep muzzle, wide nostrils, and ultra-powerful sniffers always ready to identify the smell and swift to respond.

German Shepherd

One of the most popular dogs around the globe, the German Shepherd has way more extraordinary traits including the ability to smell air scent. Unlike many other breeds and keep their nose close to the ground to smell, the German Shepherd smell scent carried by the wind.

Height 24 to 26 inches
Weight75 to 95 pounds

From security forces, bomb squads, and rescue groups – German Shepherd are recruited on all teams, a highly intelligent and versatile breed. Without any doubt, GSD is mandatory on our list.

Physical characteristics of the German Shepherd

Attentive and pointy large ears, a great shining coated fur, a well-proportioned dog. With a sharp and muscular back and also a sharp mussel.

Labrador Retriever

We all know the best fit and built gets the job! And that’s rightly said for Labrador Retrievers –  the most popular dog breeds with immensely great qualities of being the ultimate dog. Labs have a strong scent-identifying ability, they are part of all jobs from bomb search teams to rescue and armed forces.

Height 21.5 to 24.5 inches
Weight55 to 80 pounds

Physical characteristics of the Labrador Retriever

Easily recognizable by their broad head, drop ears, and large. And how can we miss out on those expressive eyes? Two trademarks of the Lab are the thick but fairly short double coat, which is very water repellent, and the well-known “otter tail.” The tail is thick and sturdy and comes off the topline almost straight.

Belgian Malinois

An obedient and loyal companion. Very strong-headed, proud, alert, and obsessed with human bonds, Belgian Malinois are commonly recruited into armed forces and bomb squads as they have a solid ability to snuffle any threat of bombs or drugs.

Belgian MalinoisMale Female
Height24 to 26 inches22 to 24 inches
Weight55 to 75 pounds40 to 60 pounds

Physical characteristics of Belgian Malinois

With an elegant appearance, Malinois are large herding dogs, they have kind, dark eyes. Bushy tails and thick, short coat is waterproof and easy to maintain.

American Foxhound

Foxhound has remarkable scent abilities; they even prefer wandering on their own while following a smell trail of different scents. These hound’s kind, athletic, and of low maintenance for their owners. All packed with enthusiasm, they need lots of exercise and a work regime otherwise it can turn into a destructive being.

American FoxhoundMale Female
Height22 inches to 25 inches21 inches to 24 inches
Weight45 to 65 pounds40 to 60 pounds

Physical characteristics of American Foxhound

Foxhound has a pleading and sweet expression always up for walks and reason to bond with human companions. Available in three color coats –  black, white, and tan. This breed has smothering long & broad drooping ears.

All dogs have an extraordinary sense of smell and the ability to identify any suspicious activity, but they are not worthy of being scent hounds as hounds have an extraordinary capacity to sniff and explore. We can also classify some breeds for you 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.

-Petofy
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