Quick AKC Scent Work Basics - Entry (2024)

Posted by Brian Aho on

Dogs were born to sniff, and with their adorable noses, they (many) are natural for doing scent work - also called "Nose Work" by the AKC American Kennel Club. 

And just because a dog has a stubby nose doesn't necessarily mean they wouldn't do well-performing scent work, so give it a try! 

For example, a Boxer can perform scent work because pure-breed dogs, like mixed breeds, are still a combination of breeds that still might have that nose work lineage. 

With the history of the dog itself needing to smell to perform at the most basic level, dogs from pure breeds to mixed breeds are capable of performing scent work. 

Also, this is the only AKC sport where the human follows the dog (and the dog follows its nose). 

And ANY dog - including your mixed breed can join - so get involved in the sport, it's fun and helps develop that parent and pet bond we all love.

Print This:AKC American Kennel Club Scent Work Entry FormAnd This:AKC American Kennel Club Scent Work Entry Form Signature

Fun Fact: This scent work originated from using detection dogs to sniff out drugs, human remains, explosives,  etc.

  1. But these dogs are searching for 2 cotton swabs saturated in essential oils; Birch, Anise, Clove, and Cypress to make a match.
  2. The two swabs are then hidden in two separate containers and the dog has to find the match.
  3. The dog will signal when they have identified each of the swabs, such as; sitting or laying down.

Your dog will fit into 1 of 4 categories, here we'll cover 3 since the 4th is uncommon:

1 = Mixed

2 = Purebred

3 = Lost (Registration or Dog - maybe you received from a rescue).

  1. Mixed: You will join the AKC under the official name of the "AKC Canine Partners'" here and joining the AKC means that you receive a registration number so they can track your progress in events like Scent Work, Obedience, Rally, Agility etc. - a lot of events allow mixed breed dogs, which is great!  Tied to your ($35) registration you also receive a few more perks like 30 days of pet insurance coverage, AKC Reunite lost pet recovery, and complimentary veterinary visits through AKC Vet Network, which is pretty nice.
  2. Purebreds: From the AKC, your breeder should have received an AKC Registration Certificate Number or Puppy Registration paper, and passed it along to you.  The AKC Dog Registration Link is here.  These are the perks for registering: A frameable AKC Registration Certificate, 30 days of pet insurance for newly registered puppies - activate here and details about this will be sent to you shortly after registration; a certificate for a complimentary first veterinary office visit - submit your email address when registering your puppy and the AKC will email you a certificate for a complimentary office visit along with a list of participating veterinarians; eligibility to participate in a wide range of AKC events, including agility, obedience, tracking, field trials, dog shows, etc...Optional registration packages include AKC collar tag with 24/7 lifetime recovery services, a 3 generation AKC pedigree, 1 year subscription of AKC Family Dog magazine and a dog care and training video.  Not bad.
  3. Lost: Registration or Dog - meaning you never received the registration number, such as; you rescued a purebred dog that may or may not have had a registration number.  You will pursue a (PAL) Purebred Alternative Listing number and the process starts here.  The perk of a PAL registration is an Official Certificate, 1-year subscription to AKC Family Dog magazine, a complimentary visit with an AKC Veterinary Network veterinarian, and 30 days of pet insurance coverage for eligible veterinarian expenses.
Scent work has 2 divisions:
  1. Odor Search Division - your dog searches for essential oils.
  2. Handler Discrimination Division - your dog searches for the scent of his handler.
  • This blog focuses on the more common number #1 - Odor Search Division - your dog searches for essential oils.  *The form can be used for both.

Each division has 4 levels of difficulty:

  1. Novice
  2. Advanced
  3. Excellent
  4. Master
Scent Work / Nose Work is a (pass/fail) test; more specifically you either qualify or don't qualify.
    • This means your dog will communicate with you when it detects a scent match and signals to you by sitting down etc. = qualify.
    • And if your dog does not do that, they do NOT qualify.


    2 Cents: What I like is that you and your dog do not have to take classes to compete(!), but you can train at home or in the community at a training facility if you want.
    Your above entry form will be submitted to the club performing the scent work trials, and you can find the events here.
    Afterward, you must submit your records to the AKC office within 7 days, here:
    Event Operations - Scent Work
    PO Box 900051
    Raleigh, NC 27675-9051
    You may call or email the AKC here:
    Customer Service: 919-233-9767 or email info@akc.org
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