A detection dog or sniffer dog is a dog that is trained to use its senses to detect substances such as explosives, illegal drugs, wildlife scat, currency, blood, and contraband electronics such as illicit mobile phones. The sense most used by detection dogs is smell.
The smell from the detection dogs are more enhanced than the average dog. They are trained to have this great sense of smell.
Hunting dogs that search for game, and search dogs that work to find missing humans are generally not considered detection dogs.
There is some overlap, as in the case of cadaver dogs, trained to search for human remains.
A police dog is essentially a detection dog that is used as a resource for police in specific scenarios such as conducting drug raids, finding missing criminals, and locating stashed currency.
Detection dogs are also seeing use in the medical industry, as studies have revealed that canines are able to detect specific odors associated with numerous medical conditions, such as cancer.
Scent hounds (or scenthounds) are a type of hound that primarily hunts by scent rather than sight. These breeds are hunting dogs and are generally regarded as having some of the most sensitive noses among dogs.
Scent hounds specialize in following a smell or scent. Most of these breeds have long, drooping ears. One theory says that this trait helps to collect scent from the air and keep it near the dog’s face and nose. They also have large nasal cavities, which helps them smell better. Their typically loose, moist lips are said to assist in trapping scent particles.
Scent hounds do not need to be as fast as sight hounds, because they do not need to keep prey in sight, but they need endurance so that they can stick with a scent and follow it for long distances over rough terrain. The best scent hounds can follow a scent trail even across running water and even when it is several days old.
The qualities one looks for in any scent-detection dog, whether for law enforcement or volunteer purposes, are similar: A dog with drive. One who can hunt for scent for hours and not give up.
In 2004, a group of chemists assembled a list of scenting dogs. They came up with 30 scent detection dog categories. Some of these categories probably only represent a few dozen dogs, but many of them are essential to law enforcement and are found throughout the world. The categories are:
1. Abalone (endangered mollusk poaching) detector dog
2. Agricultural product (importation) detector dog
3. Arson (accelerant) detector dog
4. Brown tree snake (pest species) detector dog
5. Airport/runway detector dog
6. Cadaver (human remains) detector dog
7. Chemical weapon detector dog
8. Citrus canker detector dog
9. Concealed person detector dog
10. Currency detector dog
11. Drug (narcotic) detector dog
12. Explosives (bomb) detector dog
13. Gas leak detector dog
14. Gold ore detector dog
15. Gun/ammunition detector dog
16. GYPSY moth larvae detector dog
17. Land mine trip wire detector dog
18. Melanoma detector dog
19. Missing person detector dog
20. Rotten power pole detector dog
21. Scent line-up detector dog
22. Screw worm detector dog
23. Seal detector dog
24. Search and rescue (warm blood) detector dog
25. Syringe needle (dried blood) detector dog
26. Termite detector dog
27. Tracking (fleeing suspect) detector dog
28. Truffles detector dog
29. Water search detector dog
30. Wildlife detector dog
People retire because of age—that’s also true for scent dogs. Scent dogs work extremely hard their whole life, so between the ages of seven and 11, they’re usually ready to retire.
Unfortunately, as K9 dogs have a high-stress job, they can exhibit negative behaviors such as aggression, separation anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Here are common “facts” about dogs that are actually not true.
These days, retired K9 dogs are sent to loving homes after they retire. However, this was not always the case. Most retired police dogs were euthanized before President Bill Clinton ended the practice by signing Robby’s Law in 2000, which states that retired police and military dogs can be adopted by their handlers or other service members.
The handlers of scent dogs are generally the first choice to adopt the animals. It’s a perfect pairing as the handler and scent dog already have an established bond.
“These dogs usually adjust very easily to home life. They are kept with a family during their working time and once it is over can easily adjust to living with kids and a family,”
“Most of these dogs are trained to know when they are on the job and when they are not.”
But what if a K9 dog’s handler is unable to adopt them? That’s when other people come into play. The opportunity arises for the dog to be adopted by the general public usually if a handler has died or doesn’t have the capacity to care for the dog.