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How powerful is Your Bird Dog’s Nose?

I think Trammell (my GSP) is smelling a rooster right now!

I read a CBS news story this morning reporting on a scientific research study performed in Germany determining dogs (2 German shepherds, 1 Lab, and 1 Australian shepherd) have the ability to sniff out lung cancer in people.  According to the study, these cancer sniffing dogs diagnosed lung cancer with 71 percent accuracy simply by sniffing the breath of 500 participants. 


It seems dogs have the ability to identify abnormalities in the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) of the exhaled breaths of people with cancer and other diseases that create changes in a person’s respired VOCs.  The report indicated dogs have also been effectively used to identify other forms of cancer, as well as diabetes.  From therapy dogs to seeing-eye dogs to cancer detectors, dogs continue to earn the title of “man’s best friend.” 


As a bird hunter, I’ve witnessed the unbelievable power of a bird dog’s nose in spite of wind, snow or exertion.  I’ve always wondered what a pheasant, quail or grouse smells like to my pup and the different sizes of scent cones each bird leaves behind.  I’ve also marveled at the connection between a bird dog’s nose and their tail; there must be a nerve in bird dogs directly linking the nose to the tail’s wag!


So my question for you today relates back to your bird dog’s sniffer.  Has your pup ever displayed extraordinary nose-abilities?


The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.

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5 Responses to “How powerful is Your Bird Dog’s Nose?”

  1. Jeff says:

    I actually just rehomed a dog that did not have a very good sniffer. It was not an easy thing to do but now I have a pup that is showing lots of promise.

  2. Hoppy says:

    I have a VDD that can smell a pheasant (9 out of 10 times it’s a rooster) several hundred yards away. She has won me many bets from other hunters who were flabergasted at her smelling ability.

  3. Nic says:

    My golden retriever has learned the smell of a rooster and a hen. As we hunt and he kicks up birds like everyone we call out hen or rooster. We also call off the dogs on a hen. Over the years I have seen him work the grass kick up some hens and just keep working. When he kicks up a rooster the chase is on everytime.

  4. Mike says:

    I have a buddy who swears his dog picked up his kids lukemia. Interesting story and very believable.

  5. Art says:

    Last winter while late season grouse hunting in northern wis. Bandit, my brittany was picking up grouse scent through 2 feet of snow and up to 20 yds downwind of their nightime burrows. He amazes me everyday with what he can smell and find in the woods, I now have him trained to find deer sheds, on spring walks he’ll take off and go hundreds of feet into woods and find sheds from sometimes previous year…when in dakotas after pheasants it must be overpowering for dogs the first time they head into those cattails..


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