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The Different Types of Bomb-Sniffing Dog Breeds

Published September 1st, 2023 by 3DK9 LLC

With no fingers and limited color perception, it may seem like dogs live in a bland world. However, there's one tool that dogs have that we can never compare to humans or any human invention. That is their sense of smell.

Dogs have over 300 million olfactory sensors in their noses, while we only have about six million. This innate talent is why dogs are so valuable in the police force. All dogs have an exceptional sense of smell, but certain breeds have topped the list.

Take an inside look into the best bomb-sniffing dog breeds. Read on to find out more.

German Shepherd

As the classic image of a police dog, it comes as no surprise that German Shepherds are some of the best detection dogs. These dogs love to work, making them an all-rounder breed for police work. German Shepherds excel as defensive dogs due to their loyalty and ferocity.

German Shepherds have high intelligence, and it would be a sign of disrespect for the dog not to put it to work. These dogs stand proudly at the front lines of the military and police forces. The German Shepherd's ability to sniff out bombs creates a safe passage from troops in the field.

Belgian Malinois

Despite their appearance, Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds are not related in any way. There are also a few key differences that set these dogs apart. The most obvious one is their size.

Belgian Malinois are smaller, weighing about 60-80 lbs compared to the GSD's 90 lbs. GSDs are typically more independent, while Belgian Malinois are more eager to please their handlers. Belgian Malinois dogs sit at the top when it comes to the military's preferred breeds.

These dogs are not only smaller and easier to transport but also healthier and less prone to joint issues. Of course, that's not to say that GSDs are a bad breed, but the portability of a Mal is a great feat in the field.


Of all breeds, no dog can quite compare to the sniffing ability of a bloodhound. Bloodhounds have a distinct appearance, with wrinkly skin and droopy ears. However, these qualities contribute to their overall sniffing skills.

The Bloodhound's ears can gather scent particles from the air, enabling this dog to bring it into its nose. Their wrinkled skin can also trap scent particles. Bloodhounds also have strong shoulders.

This enables the dog to keep its nose to the ground for long periods without getting tired. Bloodhounds can track a scent for over 130 miles. This breed has a gentler temperament, which means they're often reserved solely for bomb-sniffing.

Golden and Labrador Retriever

Golds and labs may seem like close cousins, but like GSDs and Malinois, they're quite different. Golden retrievers served their purpose as gun dogs, while labs were more of water dogs. Both were bred to have soft mouths to avoid damaging the prey they caught.

However, one thing that these two breeds have in common is their excellent sense of smell. Even though they served different purposes, both dogs had to sniff out prey for their masters. Retrievers have a mild temperament, but their intelligence makes them a prime breed for canine detection.

Fun fact: Golden and Labrador Retrievers made up the hero dog team of 9/11.


Don't let this tiny dog fool you. The Dachshund was born and bred to hunt badgers and foxes. Dachshunds have an impeccable sense of smell, enabling them to detect badgers above and below ground.

Their small, cute build is not for aesthetic purposes. Dachshunds possess a gene that stunts the growth in their leg cartilage. This means that though their bodies look long, it's normal - they just have short legs!

The Dachshund's build allows them to crawl into badger burrows. Despite their size, dachshunds can have a mean and protective streak.


With a friendly temperament and non-threatening demeanor, Beagles star at airports for sniffing out contraband. These dogs have a keen sense of smell and are eager to track the source. The Beagle's ears have a similar function to that of a Bloodhound.

When a Beagle locks on a scent, they push their ears forward. These ears reach the ends of their noses, enabling them to catch more scent particles.

Though Beagles excel as drug dogs, most work as bedbug detectors. They also sniff out food in luggage to prevent parasites and foreign diseases from crossing the border.

German Shorthaired Pointer

The German Shorthaired Pointer is a sporting dog breed often used in hunting. These dogs are capable of sniffing out and locating different types of wildlife, making them one of the most versatile hunting dogs out there.

As a working breed, the German Shorthaired Pointer thrives in mental activities. This makes them excellent explosive and drug dogs. This breed has high energy levels, which is why many forces put them to work in the field.

One nifty fact about GSPs is that they're excellent swimmers. These dogs have webbed feet and generally love water.

Does the Perfect Bomb Dog Exist?

Is there one dog breed with the best sense of smell? Some may argue that it's the Bloodhound, but there's not enough evidence proving that they're the best of the best. The truth is that all dogs have a great sense of smell.

The only thing that sets certain breeds apart is their willingness to follow the trail. Getting a dog to follow a scent takes months or even years of training. That's why working breeds like German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois always sit at the top of these lists.

These dogs are not only intelligent. Their fierce loyalty also means that they're eager to please their handlers.

The Most Popular Bomb-Sniffing Dog Breeds

These are some of the most popular bomb-sniffing dog breeds in canine forces. Many of these breeds serve dual purposes as both bomb dogs and protection dogs. Are you interested in working with one of these breeds?

Our K9 units are ready for action, and your peace of mind is important to us. Contact us today to learn more about our dog team.

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