From as early as the fifth century, beagles have been around. Bred to help hunters hunt down prey, beagles’ extraordinary ability to smell miles away has been one of their most crucial ‘tools’ for the task. Beagles are like a small version of foxhounds, given that they are muscular, medium-sized dogs.
Although beagles are lovely, family companions, their hunting instincts and sniffing character never leave them, as almost every part of their body, especially their nose, legs, necks, ears and tail are naturally designed to enhance their sense of smell.
Due to their high number of sensory receptors and dominant olfactory bulb, beagles can be said to have some of the best noses in the world. They can smell miles away. We will later talk about how far they can smell in the article. Let’s talk a bit about the nose now.
The structure of a beagle’s nose is quite enough to tell you something about its immaculate sense of smell.
Examine the nose; it is big, cool, and moist to the touch. By dissolving air molecules, the moisture helps bring them into the nose.
Scents are also retained during exhales after each sniffing inhale because they are held in pockets inside the nose. Nerve impulses “link” the Beagle’s highly developed olfactory lobe in the brain to these preserved odours.
Beagles also possess a significantly higher number of scent receptors than both humans and other dog breeds. Last but not least, a dog’s sense of smell is said to be thousands of times greater than a human’s sense of smell since the olfactory (scent) section of the brain is believed to be roughly 40 times larger in dogs than in humans.
Take a look at the chart below to see how a beagle performs in comparison with humans and other dog breeds. The beagle, alongside the German shepherd, is only second to the bloodhound.
|Breed/Species||Number of Sense Receptors|
|Fox Terrier||147 million|
|German Shepherd||225 million|
How Far Away Can A Beagle Smell?
As we have seen, a beagle’s sense of smell is a hundred times more sensitive than humans. If the scent or odor is strong, a beagle can pick up a scent about 10 miles away. This suggests that even if the scent has a very low concentration, such that humans cannot smell it, a beagle can.
Matter of fact, research indicates that beagles are able to scent a trail, even when it is diluted to one part per trillion. This seems strange and impossible for humans but very normal for beagles.
It must be noted, however, that, as can only be said to be natural, some scents would be more easily detectable for beagles than others, dependent on how strong it is. It is thus right to assume that the stench of a dead animal would be much easier to detect than that of, say, a flower. It is not shocking then why beagles are such good hunters and great tracking dogs.
Just by following the scent, beagles can track and hunt down rabbits and dears, detect illegal drugs and explosives and could even be trained to detect cancer cells.
Beagles’ 225 million receptors can take in more odor molecules than humans, giving them a stronger sense of smell. Also, their long, narrow noses mean they can take in more air than other dog breeds with smaller noses and subsequently detect fainter smells that other dogs would miss.
What Connection Lies Between A Beagle’s Nose And Brain?
A beagle’s olfactory bulb is found in its brain. It is a mass of neural tissues that process information about scents and is larger than a human’s olfactory bulb, relative to brain size, of course. A beagle’s olfactory bulb helps enhance its sense of smell a great deal.
According to Julia Langlands of ‘Balance Behavior,’ “The human’s brain is dominated by a large visual cortex, whilst the dog’s brain is dominated by the olfactory cortex. The Olfactory bulb accounts for one-eighth of the dog’s brain.”
What the olfactory bulb does for dogs and its importance cannot be overemphasized. When scent information travels to the Olfactory bulb, it’s also travelling to the limbic system and cortex of the dog’s brain. Dogs are estimated to be 10,000 to 100,000 times better at odor detection than humans.
What Your Beagle’s Neck And Legs Mean For Its Sense Of Smell
You might have noticed the odd shape of your beagle compared to other dog breeds. This is no coincidence, as they were developed this way for a reason. The structure of your beagle’s body helps with sense detection.
Its long and sturdy neck means your beagle can drop its nose right to the ground, making it easier to pick and follow the scent. In the same vein, the short legs of your beagle mean he is as close enough as possible to the ground, enabling it to pick as many scents as there are and even the faintest of them.
It’s also important to note that these physical traits aren’t strictly necessary for detecting scents. Instead, because they are so close to the ground, they can take in the smells without pausing. Thus, your beagle’s neck and legs play vital roles in its sense of smell.
Its Long, Floppy Ears
Yes, your beagle’s ears also play very vital roles in its ability to detect scents. You may have noticed that when your beagle bends its head, its ears reach its nose. The beagle’s ears attract scent particles from the air and bring them down to its nose when the beagle bends its head.
A beagle is able to gather information on surrounding scents this way. With every part of the beagle’s body helping its large and wet nose, we can not overemphasize what a search and track weapon the beagle is.
Environmental Factors That Can Enhance A Beagle’s Sense Of Smell
Indeed, the beagle’s ability to detect a scent can be enhanced by some environmental factors, such as the following:
High Humidity: Humidity can have a direct impact on olfaction. High humidity can improve nasal humidity, especially odorant trapping and intensity, thereby enhancing a beagle’s sense of smell. High humidity can also increase a beagle’s olfactory detection of pheromones, and increase the chances of mating.
Movement of the Scent: Scents and odors travel from high elevation to low, as well as in different directions depending on the currents of the wind. Thus, for instance, of your dog is tracking prey while moving upwind, there is the possibility that the scent may get caught in the wind and eventually lead back to your dog.
Cold Temperatures: When the temperature drops, beagles and other dog breeds, in general, will develop an enhanced sense of smell. Air and fragrance molecules are substantially denser than usual in cold weather. Because of this, the cold offers a stronger concentration of fragrance.
But sometimes it is too cold for a fragrance to spread easily. Sub-zero temperatures will just cause the molecules to freeze, whereas coolness improves the ability to detect the fragrance molecules. The molecules ultimately become stuck in solid. Snow is therefore not good for tracking.
Other environmental conditions that can enhance a beagle’s sense of smell include shaded areas, fog and mist and unplowed fields.
Environmental Factors That Can Hinder A Beagle’s Sense Of Smell
On the other side, your beagle’s capacity to detect and follow a scent may be diminished by certain environmental circumstances. These elements consist of:
- When a beagle must track through dense vegetation
- When there is a lot of wind or rain.
- When a beagle must follow odours on concrete, stone, or through recently plowed fields.
- During dry conditions.
- When a beagle is tracking in snow or freezing weather.
A Beagle’s ability to track can be hampered by the terrain, yet they can still make great tracking dogs! A beagle can track scents about 10 miles away. With every part of its body aiding its ability to sense scents, it makes a beagle an ideal dog for search and track.
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