Sherlock Bones – Canine detectives

Detectives come in many different forms. They can be private investigators, archaeologists, journalists, cops, or even dogs! Yes, many of our canine friends are detectives too. From search and rescue expeditions to detection cases, dogs are the investigators cracking cases one sniff at a time.

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Search and Rescue Dogs


When you think of tracking what do you imagine? You are likely thinking of those movies where police dogs come out, smell the bad guys clothes and take off running after the scent… am I right? Well if that’s where you’re mind led you then you are completely right. A tracking dog works by putting their nose to the ground and following a trail of human scent. They can track anything from a lost child to a person trapped in a collapsed building and are extraordinarily valuable when it comes to saving lives or working on an investigative case. 

Avalanche Rescue

The serious business of avalanche rescue is surprisingly not that serious at all, for the dogs at least. These phenomenal pooches have a job that can be extremely dangerous, navigating the scene of an avalanche to rescue people buried metres beneath the snow. While the team handling these rescue dogs understand the time crunch they face in finding survivors, the dogs think of it all as one big game. This may sound a bit silly, but it is all in the way they have been trained. They spend the first few years of their life training in basic commands and by playing lots of games of hide and seek, searching for the ‘hidden’ or lost person, following the scent coming from the snow. When they find their target, they play an awesome game of tug of war with their handler to celebrate their ‘pawesome’ achievement.

In the event of an avalanche these super pooches get to search, sniff, dig and win by finding the trapped person.

The Avalanche Dogs of Big Sky Resort

Cadaver Location

These brave dogs are similar to other detective dogs, using their amazing noses to track and locate missing people. The only thing that varies is that the people they are tracking have unfortunately passed away, making their job all the more important in solving crimes and helping families find closure. While this job is definitely sadder than most, it wouldn’t be possible without the help of these dogs. They are 95% effective in finding the people they are looking for, even if they are 4 metres below them! And their expertise is invaluable during natural disasters like earthquakes, cyclones and tsunamis to help families find their loved ones.

Water Rescue Dogs

Lifesavers must be some of the coolest people ever, right? You just have to take a look at Bondi Rescue or your local beach to see the awesome work they do to keep everyone safe. Now imagine those life savers, only this time they are hairy. Now that might bring up all sorts of crazy images in your head, but we aren’t talking surfing Yeti’s here, this is all about those life saving dogs that could pull off a water rescue in their sleep. Water Rescue Dogs can bring a struggling swimmer to shore, tow boats and deliver lifejackets or rescue harnesses, and do this in all sorts of crazy conditions. While it is often unsafe for human rescue swimmers to navigate stormy seas, a well-trained Water Rescue Dog can slice through the water and return safely with the person in tow. Once these wonder dogs get the rescued person close enough, the human rescue team can then take over and give them the care they need. And the most epic thing of all, these dogs are trained to jump from boats and helicopters all in the name of rescue!

Filming Reef, the fearless Italian water rescue dog

Detection Dogs

Detection Dogs for conservation

You may have heard of Bear the Koala Detection Dog, a legend amongst mortals. Bear is a rescue dog who has been trained to detect live koalas within the Australian bush, making him invaluable during the time of the 2019/2020 bushfires. Not only is Bear awesome in his own right, but he is actually part of a team of dogs and humans called the Detection Dogs for Conservation. This team has 4 amazing dogs all with a variety of different skills that help to locate and gather data about koalas, making a huge impact in preserving local koala populations. Bear and his friends live right here in the Sunshine Coast and are local heroes celebrated by many!

Meet Bear, the Koala Detection Dog

Explosives Detection

With all the new technology in the world you would think that there was some sort of super sleuthing way to detect explosives or bombs at large events, in the military and in other places across the world. Funnily enough this is not actually the case. Dogs are still considered to be the best option for sniffing out bombs as, you guessed it, they have super powered noses! They are able to move quickly around large spaces and detect scents in the air that make up the components of a bomb. Do you think your nose might be up to the task? When it comes to nose sensitivity dogs are the paws-down winners over humans, with some figures saying their sense of smell is somewhere between 10,000 to 100,000 times better than ours. This makes them the perfect dog for the job, looking out for people once again.

Medical Detection

A dog’s wet, wriggly nose can do so much more than just find something smelly to roll in in the backyard. They can also perform crazy miracles like detecting cancer and other diseases. Now, this doesn’t mean the dog that sniffed all around your feet yesterday thinks that your toes are going to fall off. Only dogs highly trained by medical professionals and scientists can pick out the scents that identify these diseases for what they are. It has always been thought that many diseases such as cancer, malaria, tuberculosis and even Covid-19 have their own smell, it’s just that humans have noses that can’t pick it up, and neither can our technology. Medical Detection dogs may even be sent to live with an owner who has a disease, like diabetes, and be trained to alert them to any changes in their smell that may indicate an emergency. If you didn’t believe that dogs were superheroes before, then you surely must now!

Truffle Detection

Hmm truffles... Aren’t they the weird lumps that pigs find under trees that kind of look like poop? If this is what you are thinking, then you would be right! Only, it’s not poop and it can also be found by clever hounds with a sniffer that likes to take them on an adventure. Truffles are a rare and delicate type of mushroom that grow 30cm under the ground in woodland areas. These delicious delicacies are sought after all across the world but can be slightly difficult to find. This is where the truffle detection dogs come in. Truffles, when ready to be dug up, give off a very particular smell that dogs can be trained to find. It is very popular to find these truffles using pigs instead of dogs, but dogs are becoming more popular for detecting the mushroomy marvels because they are much more delicate when finding the truffles. As you are probably aware, pigs aren’t great at being gentle, especially when it comes to food. If you ever get the chance to try a truffle, think to yourself… Did a dog unearth this delicious morsel full of goodness just for me? Or was it a big ol’ pig?

More stuff

Check out some of the other cool things dogs can do. You might find that you can even do some of them together with your furry friend.

  • Superpower Dogs Super dogs with Super powers? Discover more.
  • National Geographic Kids See what else you can find on topics like dogs, avalanches, and rescues. 
  • Beamafilm Your library card gets you access to some great doggy movies and documentaries like Pick of the litter, Molly and Dogs & Us
  • Animal Water Fails Have you ever done something embarrassing and had it caught on camera? Even though animals are usually very clever, they have moments like this too! 
  • Dog Tries the Obstacle Course Challenge Do you think you could teach your dog to be a wonder dog? Start of with this super simple obstacle course challenge to test their stealth and smarts. And if they struggle with this… they are not the only ones.
  • Dog VS Cat - Snacks in the water Cats vs Dogs is an age-old battle. Watch this video to see who comes out on top. Is this something you could recreate at home?
  • Dogs Review Food If you have ever tried to avoid the broccoli on your dinner plate, then you might find some friends in Tucker and Todd. This video has been included for the pure joy and cuteness factor.

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