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12 Animals with the Best Sense of Smell

Like humans, animals have extraordinary abilities, too, abilities that are used and utilized to adapt to the environment. There are a plethora of animals with the best sense of smell, species that have a keener and more remarkable ability than others. 

If you want to know which animals are this, keep on reading because we have prepared a great list of animals that dominates fin the ability to have the best sense of smell.

Humans have 396 genes for olfactory receptors; however, animals have more OR genes. It is smaller than the 768 olfactory receptors found in rabbits. However, more animals have a high olfactory receptor count, a gene that gives an excellent ability to smell. 

You must be looking forward to this, so let’s get started on the list of species with the best sense of smell right away, shall we?

List of Animals with the Best Sense of Smell

Let’s get into our list of animals with some amazing smell sensors.

1. Bear

A Bear

Among the great animals that can smell the best are bears. Its sense of smell is 300 times better than humans. Bloodhound, a dog species also have 2,100 times better sense than a human’s.

Since the olfactory bulb area in the bear’s brain is five times larger than the human brain, bears have the best sense of smell of any animal in the world. This kind of ability makes bears scary and fascinating at the same time.

Bears have enormous noses, each of which contains thousands of smell receptors. As a result, the species is ranked first among the species with the best sense of smell in the world.

Bears are capable of detecting a deceased animal from up to 20 miles away due to their exceptional ability and sharp sense of smell.

When camping or in the woods, especially when bringing food that is appealing to bears, the dominant smell receptors, which are 100 times more sensitive than those of the human nose, will detect the scent of the food being brought.

If you do not store your food in an odor-proof plastic bag, it will be quite challenging to keep a bear away from your food in this situation.

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2. Shark


When thinking about what animal has the best sense of smell, the sharks are among the list. This predatory fish relies mostly on its ability to smell. Smelling is so important to this creature that two-thirds of its brain is dedicated to the olfactory bulb.

Since of this, sharks are frightening predators because they can detect the presence of a wounded marine animal or even an injured human victim from a mile away.

In addition to using its keen sense of hearing to seek food, the shark makes use of its powerful sense of smell. The nostrils of this species can be found on the bottom of its snout, on either side of its mouth.

They are aware of their surroundings by hearing and their excellent sense of smell, which is made possible by the shark’s amazing ability and body structure, allowing water to flow continually over its nostrils.

With the help of its incredible ability to smell, a shark can recognize a drop of blood in almost 100 liters of water!

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3. Elephant


When talking about animals with the best sense of smell, Elephant is part of the list. According to research, this animal possesses the best sense of smell, and it is possibly the strongest ever discovered in a single species. Elephants have almost 2,000 unique genes that enable them to identify scents in their environment.

Elephants have a high sense of smell and can discover water sources from up to 12 miles away, thanks to their keen sense of smell and long-range. According to previous research, African elephants are able to discern between odor molecules with exceedingly minute structural changes that humans and other primates are utterly unable to detect.

Their nostril is placed located at the tip of the trunk and is responsible for breathing, smelling, and obtaining water from the environment. Elephants’ sense of smell is constantly used, making this animal among the animals that smell the best. Its trunk is always used that helps to detect new smells and information.

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4. Snake


Wondering which animals have the strongest sense of smell? Snake is definitely among these animals. Its remarkable ability of keen sense of smell makes it a fascinating animal.

Snakes do have nostrils despite they don’t have a conventional and can smell with their tongues. The tongue of the anaconda, ground-dwelling snakes, and other aquatic snakes is used to detect scent.

Snake sniff through the mouth; it relies on tongue-flicking gestures to gather airborne particles that they are able to smell through the mouth. It facilitates the collection of samples from the air particles, soil, and water and the analysis of the various compounds.

These animals use their tongues to detect all kinds of scents in the air, which allows them to identify a smell and locate prey or to know where danger is lurking. Like the sharks, snakes use their keen sense of smell to be aware of their surroundings and survive.

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5. Dogs


Dogs have a powerful nose that makes them among the animals with an amazing sense of smell. Generally speaking, dogs are considered to be good smellers, as evidenced by the fact that police and military service dogs are trained to detect explosives.

However, despite the fact they do not have a particularly big number of olfactory receptor genes, their sense of smell is 100 times better than humans. Bloodhounds are a dog species that have an exceptionally keen sense of scent and have 300 times better-smelling abilities than humans.

The portion of a dog’s brain that is dedicated to evaluating odors is approximately 40 times larger than the portion of a human brain. These animals are drawn to odors that are new, novel, and intriguing to them. 

Dogs have an extremely delicate sense of smell and a very powerful one because of their keen sense of smell that dogs are trained and employed to detect bombs and drugs. They can also track down individuals based on the smell of their clothing and discover bodies.

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6. Kiwi


Small but with an incredible sense of smell. The olfactory bulb of the kiwi is indeed the second largest among all birds in terms of its relation to its forebrain size. It is the reason why it is among the animals with the best sense of smell.

For the simple reason that they are unable to fly and that their food is located on the ground, Kiwis have developed an acute sense of smell.

It is exclusively by the use of their sense of smell that they can locate earthworms. Kiwi’s nostrils are also positioned near the tip of its bill, which is a unique adaptation that facilitates detecting and locating food much easier for the bird.

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7. Cows


Animals with the best sense of smell include huge tamed cloven-hooved herbivores like cows. This animal has a keen sense of smell, as evidenced by the presence of 1,186 olfactory receptor genes compared to humans.

Its strong nose was capable of detecting odors from as far away as five to six miles away. This skill of the cows was valuable in situations where they could detect impending danger.

Aside from possessing a keen sense of smell, cattle are also equipped with outstanding hearing capabilities. Even though the cows’ primary senses were sight and hearing, their excellent sense of smell also benefited them in understanding what was going on in their environment.

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8. Moth


You might be wondering why there is a moth on the list, and the answer is simple. The moth, namely the male silkmoth, is the world’s best among all of the insects. A male moth can sense the scent of a female moth from more than seven kilometers away. This demonstrates how intense and acute the animal’s sense of smell is.

In order to extract smell molecules from the air, male moths use their feathery antennae to do so.

Their antennae detect scent components as they fly, rather than utilizing their nostrils to smell them as most would normally do. A single scent is detected by their highly developed sense of smell, which has evolved to detect only the scent of female moths.

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9. Rat 


If you’re looking for answers of which is the best, rat or mice, in terms of sense of smell, the Rats beat the mice. Rat is among the animals with the best sense of smell.

They have strong sniffing abilities, which allows them to have a more varied and versatile diet than cats, which can smell out but are extremely picky eaters. They are not very well-versed in detecting odors that what rats can do.

The presence of 1,207 olfactory receptor genes in rats contributes to the animals’ excellent sense of smell. A piece of skin on the back of the rat’s neck comprises smell receptors, allowing air to pass past their nose. 

When a rat smells, the fragrance particles travel to their vomeronasal organ, where they process it. Rats also use this organ to detect and distinguish between different individuals of the same rat species by detecting pheromones.

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10. Horses


Horses are among the animals that have a high sense of smell, and they are also among the most intelligent animal. Even though their sense of smell is not as good as a dog’s when it comes to scent detection, they have a far better sense of smell than humans do.

Through this skill, horses are able to distinguish between predators and other horses, and the anatomy of their nasal cavity has provided horses with a relatively big nasal cavity to use. Furthermore, due to the large size of the horse’s head, there are a disproportionately large number of receptors.

When they inhale a scent that they are intrigued by, their flexible nostrils flare. It is similar to how dogs learn about one other by sniffing one another’s backsides, although horses are less straightforward in their communication when meeting for the first time.

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11. Opossums 


Opossums are marsupials, which means they are mammals with a keen sense of smell. It is similar to the development of kangaroos and koalas, where part of their development takes place in the mother’s womb, and the rest takes place in her pouch.

Because of its limited vision and hearing, its sense of smell and its excellent sense of touch take precedence over these senses.

These genes are found in more significant numbers in this species than in humans, who only have 396 olfactory receptor genes in total. Because of their vast number of OR, opossums are remarkable animals who have a keen sense of smell.

There are notorious foragers who are frequently observed sniffing in gardens and grounds in search of a food source.

A high sense of smell helps opossums adapt to their surroundings, allowing them to survive in urban environments.

Aside from having incredibly keen olfactory capabilities, this animal is also recognized for having an exceptionally powerful immune system, which allows it to defend itself against illnesses and toxicity from the venom of the snakes on which it preys.

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12. Chinese softshell turtle

Chinese softshell turtle

The Chinese softshell turtle, also referred to as the Asiatic soft-shelled turtle, is a reptile and among animals with the best sense of smell. In addition to China and Hawaii, this species can be found in other places of the world as well.

The fact that this reptile made it onto this list was attributed to its 1,137 olfactory receptor genes that are almost close to the number of the Cows OR. 

The Chinese softshell turtle is a type of softshell turtle that is also considered to be an invasive species in the United States. It has a maximum height of 13 feet, depending on gender.

These turtles are olive in color, and they may have dark markings on their bodies as well as a long-looking snout. This animal uses its exceptional sense of smell to capture prey and determine whether there is a predator or incoming harm in its surroundings.


What animals have best sense of smell?

Animal sense of smell is the ability of animals to detect and identify different odors in their environment. Some animals have a much better sense of smell than others.

For example, dogs have an incredibly sensitive sense of smell and can detect scents that are 100,000 times weaker than what humans can detect. Other animals with a strong sense of smell include bears, elephants, and certain species of rodents.

Do dogs have a sense of smell?

Is dogs’ sense of smell acute? Dogs have an incredibly acute sense of smell, with some breeds able to detect scents at concentrations as low as one part per trillion. This ability is due to the large number of olfactory receptors they have in their noses, which is estimated to be up to 300 million, compared to humans’ six million.

Additionally, dogs’ sense of smell is used in a variety of ways, such as in search and rescue operations, medical detection, and tracking.

Can animals smell better than humans?

Animal sense of smell is often more acute than that of humans. Animals possess a much larger olfactory bulb in their brains, which allows them to detect and differentiate a wider range of scents. Additionally, animals have a higher density of olfactory receptors in their noses, which allows them to pick up even faint odors that humans cannot detect.

Do elephants have a better sense of smell than dogs?

Elephants have an exceptional sense of smell. They possess the largest olfactory bulb of any mammal, allowing them to detect scents from up to 2.5 miles away. While dogs are often considered to have the best sense of smell among mammals, elephants are certainly contenders for the title.

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