14 Dog Breeds With A Nose For Sniffing Out Crime

Written by: Christen Groves

February 22, 2016

When it’s time to sort out a crime scene, dogs can be an essential part of solving some of the world’s truly grim puzzles. Cadaver dogs, AKA human remains detection dogs (HDR), are trained to detect the odor of decomposing bodies. Cadaver dogs must have high-drive, a good nose, focus, and an ability to work for extended periods of time. 

cadaver dog

While breed doesn’t necessarily make or break any sort of working-dog, it most definitely plays a factor in the successful training and employment of cadaver dogs. The following breeds have been carefully bred (some, like the Bloodhound, for hundreds of years) to exhibit traits that are necessary for HDR dogs.

1. American Pit Bull Terrier

The American Pit Bull Terrier is a strong and athletic breed, making it ideal for difficult work, like Search and Rescue.


2. Beagle

Compared to other dogs breeds, Beagles have a highly developed sense of smell, making them scent detection superstars.


3. Belgian Malinois

When it comes to energy level the Belgian Malinois ranks #1. It’s active, hard-working, intelligent spirit makes it a favorite breed for police and military forces around the world.


4. Border Collie

The Border Collie, specifically bred for obedience and intelligence, makes an excellent working dog, especially in the field of Search and Rescue.



5. Bloodhound

The Bloodhound can pick up a days old human scent at a long distance and has been used since the Middle Ages to track people.


6. Coonhound

There are six distinct breeds of Coonhounds, all of which were bred to track and trail scent, making them great candidates for human remains detection work.


7. English Springer Spaniel

Springer Spaniels are commonly used as “sniffer dogs” and are employed in a wide range of tasks, one of them being Search and Rescue.

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images Europe

8. German Shepard

German Shepherds are one of the most common breeds employed in scent detection work and are praised for their keen sense of smell, focus, and determination.


9. German Short Haired Pointer

While traditionally used to retrieve waterfowl, the German Shorthaired Pointer’s intelligence, independence, and drive, makes it an excellent Search and Rescue dog as well.


10. Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are a popular choice among Search and Rescue handlers due to their, intelligence, eagerness, and overall friendly demeanor.


11. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers are commonly used for Search and Rescue work and are praised for their initiative, eagerness, and generally good temperament.


12. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

While less common than some of the other breeds, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever’s high working-drive, intelligence, and sense of smell, makes it an excellent candidate for Search and Rescue work.


13. Rough Collie

Like the Border Collie, the Rough Collie’s working-drive and eagerness to learn makes it an excellent Search and Rescue dog.


14. Smooth Collie

A short coated variation of the Rough Collie, the Smooth Collie is also a wonderful candidate for Search and Rescue work, especially in climates where long-haired dogs might be at risk for heat stroke.


sources: National Geographic, Wikipedia, dogster

Featured image via Doreen O’Donovan/ Flickr

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Written by: Christen Groves

February 22, 2016


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.