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Why are canines so good at detection?

Over the past several years I have written on this topic. Each and every time I watch our K9 Professionals training or Teams operating in the field I am amazed. I know that a lot of people have questions on why dogs are so good at detection. Here is a very basic explanation to help those that might be wondering.  

Air is drawn into the canine’s nose which contains an estimated 300 million sensory receptors. The air stimulates these receptors that connect to the large olfactory bulb in the dog’s brain. The olfactory is a part of the sensory system that processes smell. Sensitive down to parts per trillion (ppt); the canine’s nose is equipped with sensors that allows the dog to recognize/detect the target odor’s direction.

Not only do canines have a remarkable sensitivity to smell they are an intelligent instrument in detection. With each encounter the canine becomes smarter as it builds a target database from past exposures. This database has been developed over the course of thousands of years as humans have leveraged the outstanding odor detection capabilities of canines.


For those that have never watched a K9 Detection Team work, it is a thing of beauty. The drive and determination that these specialized dogs have to seek out the odor is astounding. I invite everyone to become more familiar with the working dog industry, if they are not already.