Performance of Pugs, German Shepherds, and Greyhounds (Canis lupus familiaris) on an odor-discrimination task

Nathaniel J. Hall, Kelsey Glenn, David W. Smith, Clive D.L. Wynne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Public opinion and the scientific literature alike reflect a widespread assumption that there are differences in behavior between dog breeds. Direct empirical behavioral assessments of such differences, however, are rare and have produced mixed results. One area where breed differences are often assumed is olfaction, where German Shepherds, hounds, and Labradors are commonly used for odor-detection work, whereas toy breeds and brachycephalic dogs, such as Pugs, are not. Choice of breed for scent detection work, however, may be driven more by historical choices than data. In this article we directly assessed the ability of German Shepherds, Pugs, and Greyhounds to acquire a simple olfactory discrimination, and their ability to maintain performance when the target odorant was diluted. Our results show that contrary to expectations, Pugs significantly outperformed the German Shepherds in acquiring the odor discrimination and maintaining performance when the odorant concentration was decreased. Nine of 10 Greyhounds did not complete acquisition training because they failed a motivation criterion. These results indicate that Pugs outperformed German Shepherds in the dimensions of olfaction assessed. Greyhounds showed a general failure to participate. Overall, our results highlight the importance of direct behavioral measurement of assumed behavioral breed differences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-246
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Comparative Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Breed differences
  • Canine
  • Domestic dogs
  • Olfaction
  • Scent detection


Dive into the research topics of 'Performance of Pugs, German Shepherds, and Greyhounds (Canis lupus familiaris) on an odor-discrimination task'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this