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Will a Dog's Muzzle Length Affect Its Sense of Smell?

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Author: Maxine Levaren

It’s amazing how many different kinds of dogs exist — big ones or little ones, longhaired or shorthaired, squished-in faces or slender, pointy snouts! A dog’s sense of smell is one of its most powerful senses. Is this sensitivity to smell affected by the length of its muzzle? Ashley Wynn decided to find out.

Check out the figure to see her project display.

Figure: Project display for “Will a dog’s muzzle length affect its sense of smell?”


I believe that the length of a dog’s muzzle won’t affect its sense of smell.

Independent variables

25 dogs of various breeds, with different muzzle lengths

Dependent variables

Number of times that the dogs found the treat


  • Type of treat used
  • Testing method used

Experimental groups

Each dog was a different experimental group


  • Dog treats
  • Plastic cups


For each dog, do the following scent test three times:

  1. Place three cups on the ground with a treat under one cup.
  2. Allow dog to sniff a sample of the treat in hand.
  3. Have dog find the cup that has the hidden treat.


Short-muzzled dogs were successful at finding the hidden treat as often as long-muzzled dogs.


My hypothesis was that the length of a dog’s muzzle wouldn’t affect its sense of smell. This hypothesis was correct.

My project also showed that the sense of smell was more associated with the breed of dogs, because, for example, sporting dogs (dogs trained to detect fallen game), scent hounds (dogs that detect their prey by smell), or working dogs (dogs that do guard or rescue work) had a better sense of smell than toy dogs, who do not work at all.

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