We know that our dog’s sense of smell is extremely keen. Even more specifically than many other breeds, labradors are more gifted when it comes to their sniffing skills. A dog’ sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times better than ours, mostly because they have over 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about six million in us. While this trait can sometimes be bothersome on walks when your pup is stopping to sniff everything, it can also be used for a lot of positive things in the world. Here is everything you need to know about your lab’s nose!
Labs can detect extremely tiny traces of certain substances in things, which makes them useful in many situations. They can smells things that humans and even some technology can’t. But how do they do it? Dogs have wet noses, which trap scent particles. The inside of the nose is even more complex. Our pups divide airflows between breathing and smelling through a fold of tissue in their nose. Our dogs’ noses are filled with turbinates which are also full of scent receptors. These are what give our furry friends such a great sense of smell.
While all dogs have strong noses, labs specifically have above average skills. It starts with the shape of the nose. Dogs that have flat faces and short noses have less sniffing abilities. But since labs have bigger, longer noses they have more space for these receptors. Labs also have larger olfactory bulbs in their brains which is the area that processes scent.
So we know how great our dog is at smelling. But what can this be used for? There are so many things that dogs can do better than us humans because of their sense of smell. Dogs can be used to track humans, which can help in crimes or search efforts. Labs are some of the best tracking dogs, not just for their sense of smell but also because of how responsive they are to handling. Our labs can also follow blood trails or work to find missing people.
More recently labs have been used for something different– to detect health issues or disease in humans. Labs can detect tumors, low blood sugar, and even possible oncoming seizures. There have been several studies that have shown many dogs can even detect cancer. Dogs are able to do this because they can differentiate and choose between a person that is completely healthy and one that has cancer. But how are they able to do this? They can smell certain chemical compounds that are released in sweat or other fluids, which come from having a tumor. This technique can help detect if a person has a cancerous tumor that is causing these chemical compounds.
Our pups are so smart and have so much to bring to the table! Who knows – maybe soon we’ll be using our labs to replace cancer screenings!