Sniffer dogs are used to detect drugs, but some are also trained to detect the smell of alcohol. They have been known to seek out smells of beer and liquor. But why are some not trained to smell this, and could you get in trouble if a sniffer dog mistakes alcohol for drugs? Read below to find out.

What Smells can Drug Sniffing Dogs Identify?

Training dogs to identify certain smells has been around for a long period of time. This training has accompanied selective breeding, so we have been able to breed ideal working dogs. Most canines will be trained to detect a specific type of threat, meaning that there are sniffer dogs for detecting narcotics, prescription drugs, explosions and weapons and ammunition. Drugs dogs have been trained to smell illegal products, they are able to identify marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine. Training dogs to detect these drugs became more popular in the 80s when drug trafficking greatly increased in America, according to Kyla Holland from the University of Mississippi.

Even though it is not a major unit in canine training services, there are dogs that have been trained to identify types of alcohol. This is a less common practice and the regulations of training sniffer dogs do differ between different states.

What Breeds of Drug Dogs can Smell Alcohol?

There are various different dog breeds that can be trained to be sniffer dogs. However, certain studies have found that specific traits are more important than the actual breed itself. The ideal dog appears to be medium in size, motivated by playing as well as intelligent and independent. One ideal breed that fits most of these traits is the Labrador Retriever and they have frequently been trained to detect the smell of alcohol and because of this, Labrador Retrievers are often sent to schools to help detect alcohol on students.

Most Commonly Used Sniffer Dog Breeds

  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Border Collies
  • English Springer Spaniels
  • German Shepherds
  • Beagles

Least Commonly Used Sniffer Dog Breeds

  • Jack Russell Terriers
  • Pugs
  • French Bulldogs
  • Shih Tzus

Can Sniffing Dogs get High from Detecting Drugs?

Detection dogs are able to identify drugs from their incredibly sensitive nose. Whilst they are trained to not interact with the drugs once they have found them, there is a risk that sniffer dogs can get high or overdose from the fumes inhaled during detection. Police have been using a substance called naloxone to help any dogs that may have inhaled a dangerous level of drugs. This substance has been used for many years to help reverse the effects of overdosing in humans and it works in the same way to help protect our loyal service dogs.

What Alcohol can Sniffing Dogs Smell?

Whether your dog is a trained service dog or not, it will be able to smell alcohol on your body and breath if you are drunk. This is due to their nose being over 40 times more sensitive than a human’s. Because of their sensitive noses they have been used to detect alcohol as well as drugs. One of the most common alcoholic substances that sniffer dogs are trained to detect is beer. Sniffer dogs are able to smell the smallest traces of beer. On college campuses they have been known to detect not just empty beer cans, but even beer bottle caps in cars belonging to students in a Searching and Researching project.

The reason for this training is not only for crime prevention, but it can also help assist in medical situations. Some therapy dogs are able to identify if their owner is drunk and in need of help which is why this typed of training is so useful, even outside of the police forces. Dogs generally do not like the smell of alcohol and are also much more sensitive to the smell of stronger liquors and they are even said to be able to smell alcohol under the water. So, whilst it is not as commonly used as drug detection, alcohol sniffing dogs are very easy to train and use.

Can Sniffing Dogs Smell Nicotine on a Smoker?

It might not be a surprise to you, but yes, dogs can easily smell nicotine, and many are often trained to detect this smell alongside narcotics. However, using dogs to detect nicotine can be quite harmful to them and for this reason it is less commonly done. The effects of nicotine on dogs is hard to study as, according to Kamerling, the results vary depending on the individual systems of the dog. Also, nicotine can induce a state of relaxation in dogs which would not be ideal during a search for narcotics and other illegal items.

Are Sniffing Dogs able to Detect Adderall?

For those of you that do not know, Adderall is a stimulant which is used as medication to help treat ADHD. So, whilst this is a prescription medication, people do use it when they shouldn’t to achieve a sense of focus. Sniffer dogs are able to detect Adderall, they can smell it in its pill form, and they can also smell when a person has taken Adderall. They can smell this because of a chemical change that occurs in the body after taking the medication. However, if you do take Adderall as a prescription then don’t worry about being accused of wrongful use. If you have proof of medication or can obtain proof of medication, then it will be as simple as providing that. And if you can’t or think that you are being treated unfairly, make sure that you know your rights and how sniffer dogs are allowed to be used in your state.

Are Sniffing Dogs Trained to Smell CBD Oil?

Sniffer dogs can be easily trained to detect CBD Oil, much in the same way that they are trained to detect cannabis. However, CBD Oil is legal across states in the US and across the UK. So, whilst these dogs can be trained to detect CBD Oil, they are not commonly required to and since it is legal you will not be apprehended even if a detection dog does smell the oil. They are able to smell the difference between cannabis and CBD Oil so it will not confuse the two. Also, with the changing laws regarding cannabis across America fewer dogs are trained to detect CBD Oil as many sniffer dogs have had to retire in a variety of states due to the legalisation of cannabis.

Are Airport Sniffer Dogs Trained to Detect Specific Drugs?

Most sniffer dogs stationed at airports are trained to detect Class A drugs. Class A drugs are the strongest substances and include crack cocaine, cocaine, heroin and ecstasy. These dogs have an incredible accuracy when it comes to detecting these drugs and appear to have greater success rates than any form of technology that has yet been produced. However, there have been some funny stories of misidentification from these dogs. At Manchester Airport, some sniffer dogs brought over some luggage that appear to contain suspicious substances, but it was in fact just some cheese and sausages. This goes to prove, no matter how well you can train these amazing animals, they’ll still be suckers for the smell of food.