One of the things we love about our dachshund is his beautiful long nose. In our British-Italian household, Sunny is also known affectionately as ‘lungo nasone’ or ‘super nasone”.   By now he responds to these nicknames.  If you have a dachshund you’ll know how they love to stick their noses, quite literally, into the middle of everything you’re doing.  Their noses are not just beautiful, but highly functional too. 

Dachshunds are scent hounds, dogs that hunt by following the scent of prey.  Anyone who has sat eating a snack while watching TV, with a salivating dachshund watching every move, will know what it feels like to be prey.  Experts on dog breeds note that hounds that predominantly use scent tend to be very focused dogs, able to concentrate on the scent to the exclusion of everything else.  This is a highly desirable trait when using a scent hound for tracking, but it’s a potential challenge for dachshund parents, especially during training. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. 

Watching Sunny in action with his nose is awe inspiring.  Sometimes head-down, he snakes along, purposefully tracking some scent or another.  Other times he’s stationary and sucking up a smell in big loud gulps, diving back in for a second try.  On an urban walk, walls at every corner must be sniffed to see who else has peed there.  Popular dog pee spots and low hanging plants are also carefully analysed, along with other dogs’ poo.  It seems that all this sniffing provides valuable info on which other dogs are in his local area, but it’s anyone’s guess what dogs do with this info. 

More obviously, their super-olfactory powers lead your dog towards juicy bits of discarded food on the pavement or under cars.  Ever noticed how you’re being tugged to one side of the pavement by your dachshund? They’ve smelt the KFC box twenty metres out long before you’ve even seen it.

Dogs don’t smell in the same way as humans

"The dog is an active aerodynamic sampling system that literally reaches out and grabs odorants," according to Matthew Staymates, a mechanical engineer and fluid dynamicist at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

When a dog sniffs something, they breath out and then in again five times each second so to draw odour-laden air into their nose, where it’s analysed by around 300 million receptor cells. This somewhat counterintuitive air-sampling technique gives dogs a hugely more sensitive reading of smells than the human nose which uses continuous suction.  Who knew?  

Recently, the engineers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology used their findings to improve the performance of continuous suction trace detection devices, creating an actively-sniffing 3-D printed prosthetic dog nose on a new detection device which mimics this rapid in and out canine smelling technique.  

The next time your dachshund is sniffing around your cheesy snack, just think of her amazing nose, breathing in and out 300 times each minute.  It’s their unique and powerful sense of smell, combined with their loyalty to their handler, that generally makes working dogs so valuable in keeping humans safe across the world. 

Sniffing is the way your dachshund sees the world.  It’s tempting to hussle your dachshund along during walkies so as to get a good distance covered, but stop-and-sniff and using their olfactory technology is what our low slung scent hounds were born and bred for.  We’ve resolved to make 2023 the year of sniffing, and to make sure that Sunny can exercise his nose as much as his little legs.  

You can read more about dogs' sense of smell here