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Identifying suitable detection dogs

By La Toya J. Jamieson, Greg S. Baxter, Peter J. Murray

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Abstract

Domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are versatile resources for humans due to a number of their physical and behavioural characteristics. Because of dogs’ olfactory acuity they have been used to detect cryptic or concealed items such as narcotics, explosives and wildlife. However, there is a wide variation in performance. This variation is often not correlated with their breed and has not been rigorously tested. Little research has compared dog breeds for their suitability as detection dogs, and even fewer studies have concluded which characteristics should be selected. This is important considering the number of dogs produced for detection work. This paper has collated the scientific literature to present important behavioural and physical traits, and traits which should be avoided, in detection dogs. The important traits include: highly play motivated; high level of cooperativeness with their handler; boldness; obedience yet independence when off-leash; and high athleticism. Although wildlife detection dogs are this paper’s focus, these proposed traits are relevant in any detection field.

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 195
Pages 1-7
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2017.06.010
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Tags
  1. Breed differences
  2. Canine scent detection
  3. Dog Breeds
  4. work