Dogs possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about six million in us. And the part of a dog's brain that is devoted to analysing smells is about 40 times greater than ours. Dogs also have something called neophilia, which means they are attracted to new and interesting odours.
The training that drug and explosive sniffer dogs experience means they become equipped with super skills. These skills sharpen their ability to detect behaviour and almost predict it, alerting security about potential criminals stopping attacks before they happen.
Detection dogs are trained to use their abilities to detect target scents. These scents that are the main focus in training include drugs, explosives, firearms, and other contraband. They're also trained to sniff out cash and criminal evidence, which assist in easing police work.
One way to hide smells is by layering other odours, but the drug-sniffer dogs still sniff them out. A trained detection dog can discern the scents that are masked by multiple odours. Dogs' noses help them smell in layers, thus bypassing multiple smells.
Detection dogs also serve other purposes
Detection dogs also perform search and rescue missions alongside their handlers, and when disaster strikes, they don’t hesitate to risk their lives for the sake of others. Special training makes search and rescue dogs valuable assets in rescue efforts such as tracking and locating missing people, resulting in thousands of human lives being saved every year.
They use smell to identify people
Dogs put their nose to the test before they recognise a voice or silhouette of a person. Their sense of smell picks up traces of your scent that become familiar in the period they stay with you. That means they’ll recognise you in an instant the next time they see you. In fact, their use of smell is so supreme they can tell the difference between identical twins.
Various breeds suited for detection work
The reason certain breeds are used for detection dogs is due to their superior intelligence and for their fantastic work ethic. They are biddable dogs with abilities that ensure they can learn and obey to the highest standard.
Top four detection dog breeds:
The German Shepherd is one of the most intelligent breeds of dogs, making them easy to train and great listeners. In addition, they are loyal and protective and are even-tempered so that they can do their jobs under pressure.
Border Collies were originally bred to be herding dogs, specifically for sheep in Europe. Collies excel at searching and rescue work but can also be trained as detection dogs. It would not be easy to find a dog with better protective instincts than a Border Collie!
The Labrador Retriever is one of the most common dog breeds globally. Labradors are hunting dogs, which makes them perfect for explosives detection. Being one of the most friendly and social breeds, they work hard to please their master.
The cocker Spaniel is a focused working dog with an acute sense of smell which makes them ideal for detection work. They are deployed as sniffer dogs trained to detect either illegal drugs or explosives and also in non-police pursuits like detecting water and identifying specific odours associated with numerous medical conditions such as cancer.