What is mantrailing (and why are bloodhounds so good at it)?

Brody on the trail!

What is mantrailing (and why are bloodhounds so good at it)?

Mantrailing is the act of seeking out an individual using scent alone by following skin rafts and skin cells wherever they have been dispersed (1).  Dogs in general have a sense of smell that is over 40 times more sensitive than a human’s sense of smell, but the bloodhound’s sense of smell is the best among the known dog breeds.  Most dogs have anywhere between 125 to 220 million olfactory receptors, but the bloodhound has been estimated to have 300 million olfactory receptors.  Humans only have 5 to 6 million olfactory receptors by comparison.  While humans can distinguish over 10,000 different scents, the bloodhounds sense of smell puts them into an entirely different stratosphere of capability.

While most bloodhounds naturally take to mantrailing with just a little help, it takes a lot of training to be a truly skilled mantrailer.  Training teaches the bloodhound to trust its nose to find someone who the bloodhound has never seen before from a scent article (a piece of clothing or other object which was handled by the person being sought).  Training also helps the handler (the human holding the leash) how to read the signals given by the bloodhound as the bloodhound is mantrailing.

There are several degrees awarded to bloodhound after they complete mantrailing events with increasing levels of difficulty.

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Here at Southeast Bloodhound Rescue, we periodically report the successes of bloodhounds on the trail to highlight the amazing capabilities of this breed.


  1. https://www.ampwda.com/mantrailing.html.  Last accessed: February 19, 2020.
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloodhound.  Last accessed: February 19, 2020.
  3. https://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/underdogs-the-bloodhounds-amazing-sense-of-smell/350/.  Last accessed: February 19, 2020.
  4. http://www.sirc.org/publik/smell_human.html.  Last accessed: February 19, 2020.
  5. https://www.americanbloodhoundclub.org/get-mantrailing-title-rules/.  Last accessed: February 19, 2020.

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