Other sniffer dogs

Alongside these “traditional” sniffer disciplines, dogs have also been trained to use their exceptional nose for many other purposes around the world.

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Dogs were first used to detect minerals – sulphur crystals in fact - in Finland in 1962, and similar activities have been undertaken in Sweden, Canada and the former USSR.


Dogs have been used to find nickel and copper deposits, although they are more difficult to detect than sulphur crystals.


Elsewhere, dogs have been used to find nickel and copper deposits, although they are more difficult to detect than sulphur crystals.

Training is again based on the tried-and-tested method.

In Scandinavia and the east it is claimed that dogs can be trained to detect deposits up to 50 feet below the surface. This begs the question of how long will it be before we see dogs used in gold or diamond prospecting?

Criminal identification

For years, police in the Czech Republic have used dog units specialised in identifying criminals and hooligans. Dogs are trained to link human scent found on clothing or personal objects found at crime scenes to a specific suspect. This is considered to be strong enough evidence to convict the suspect. Many other countries in Europe have followed this initiative. While findings are inadmissible as evidence in a court of law, they do provide leads for investigators.



To enforce a ban on the import of meat and vegetable products into the United States and Australia, dogs are trained to detect these foodstuffs at international airports in these countries.


Dogs – usually Beagles – are used to sniff bags as they are taken off international flights, searching for foodstuffs.


These dogs – usually Beagles (in the States they are called the Beagle Brigade) – are used to sniff bags as they are taken off international flights. Training is much less complicated than with other substances as the dogs are naturally attracted to food.

The Canadian Border Services Agency has 72 dog teams in place at entry points throughout the country – including seaports, airports, post offices and courier depots. These dogs are trained to detect contraband agricultural products, as well as drugs, firearms and banknotes. The Canadians developed an original marking method. Rather than scratching or barking, their dogs are trained to sit next to the source of an odour they are searching for. This has been found to work much better when dealing with travellers who are carrying contraband on their person or in their hand luggage.



Since the turn of the century, police dogs have been employed to detect banknotes. The dogs are trained to pick up the smell of the ink used on the notes, which can save investigators a great deal of time.

Parasite larvae

The Samsung Canine Center in South Korea has been successful in training dogs to detect the presence of termites in timber buildings (so helping protect the wooden Korean temples). Private firms in Scandinavia have also trained dogs in this area.

Dogs have also been used with great success in the United States and Japan to detect termites in trees, wood and telegraph poles. Candidates – often Beagles – undergo 200 hours of training, in which they learn to detect a chemical found at the foot of trees infested by termites. The Abu Dhabi police have trained their dogs to identify populations of termites and other larvae in palm trees and telegraph poles, so that any damage can be repaired before it is too advanced, achieving major savings compared with the cost if the poles had to be replaced.




Lucky and Flo are two American Labradors that became famous in 2006 for being the first dogs ever to be trained to detect counterfeit DVDs. They were originally trained to detect the chemical components used in laser discs by film studios.
The authorities decided to use the image of these two dogs to raise awareness of the importance of copyright laws and the consequences of DVD pirating on communities, beginning in primary schools.

Learn more

Samsung Canine Center


Samsung, one of the world’s leading companies, has a strong corporate responsibility to the communities it operates in - both in Korea and worldwide. The company believes in putting something back into those communities by placing animal welfare high on its agenda of corporate concerns. Nowhere is this more evident than in Samsung’s activities in the animal welfare arena.

Samsung believes that the relationship between people and pets – especially dogs – makes for a better and less self-centered world. Samsung’s initiatives such as the Pet Ownership Program – where lovingly reared dogs can be adopted by Samsung employees – shows the emphasis Samsung places on making dogs part of the family. Other Samsung key programs and community welfare projects in Korea are:

- Guide Dog School

- Therapy Dog Center

- Canine Center for Companionship

- Search and Rescue Dog Center

- Hearing Dog Center

- Detector Dog Center

- Riding for the Disabled

No other company in the world the size of Samsung dedicates its efforts to animal welfare in quite the same way as this multinational, and it is providing a role model of what can be done for society by a company with a determined corporate welfare philosophy.

Samsung’s newest program is the Detector Dog program. At the center, dogs are trained primarily to detect narcotics and explosives. Working closely with the Korean military and police special forces, Samsung is currently training dogs from its specially designed canine facilities south of Seoul. Once the training is completed, Samsung will both loan and donate its trained dogs to the authorities and provide ongoing handling advice to the respective organisations.

At present, Samsung has 8 qualified dogs on its programme, supported by three handlers. There is one dog trained to detect narcotics, five to locate explosives, one foodstuffs detector dog and one conservation dog. Of the 8 dogs, 3 are dual trained in termite detection too. Since its inception in 2003, the center has donated 24 dogs to national organisations such as the Korean police, military and customs.


John Choi
Samsung Canine Center (Korea)

Human and animal remains

The dog’s nose is increasingly used to find human remains, both recent and ancient. Whether the goal is to find a body in a criminal investigation or mummified remains in a burial chamber, training is difficult as bodies give off different odours depending on the state of decomposition. Commercial firms have developed substitute odours, but the process certainly has some way to go before it is reliable.

In a similar vein, dogs have also been trained to detect the odours emitted by mammoth remains preserved under the Siberian permafrost.



Owners in the affected parts of the United States and Australia can sign their dog up for a course in which it is trained to detect the odour of venomous snakes. The dog thus acts as an early warning system, allowing the owner to stay out of harm’s way.


An ability to detect ovulation is an important advantage in cattle breeding, as it improves the success rate of insemination and allows farmers to pinpoint when calving will occur. Some farmers use dogs every day during oestrus to identify the optimal time to inseminate their cows, based on the change in odour emitted by the vaginal mucosa during ovulation.


Now that we have
developed a way to train dogs to detect different odours as part of a game that the dog enjoys, drawing on its desire to please, the future is surely only limited by our imagination.


It feels as if not a year goes by without the dog’s extraordinary olfactory qualities being used in new ways. Now that we have developed a way to train dogs to detect different odours as part of a game that the dog enjoys, drawing on its desire to please, the future is surely only limited by our imagination.

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