Can Border Collie Dogs Smell Amphetamines?

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Introduction

Border Collies are possibly the world greatest herding dog and are renowned for being super smart. These guys are loyal and a fan of humans, making them a fun family dog for both kids and grown-ups.

They’re also a great teammate for the police and military. This is a pooch with a ton of talents including sniffing out narcotics at the airport. A shining star with an honorable work ethic, the Border Collie is a reliable breed for any purpose. They make amazing search-and-rescue dogs with their keen sense of smell and positive play drive.

Signs a Border Collie Can Detect Narcotics

It’s always great to hear of a rescue dog finding their true purpose like Smokey, a Border Collie mix recruited by the Newton, Iowa Police. According to Who TV, Smokey is people-friendly and blazing trails from his former life as a stray to a K9 trained to sniff out narcotics, including amphetamines.

These motivated mutts are always on the move, so working in an international airport sniffing for illegal substances could be a pawsome job for this Scottish/British import. If you’ve ever seen a sniffer-dog in action, you’ll admire the way they sniff the pilot's luggage, getting a whiff of the perfume he brought home for his wife.Their head will turn this way and that, as their noses pick up every odor causing them to spin around if the smell of amphetamines and other drugs are present.

Once that particular scent has registered in their 200-300 million smelling receptors, they’ll move on to the passenger’s luggage until alarm bells go off in their olfactory system that drugs are either on this person or in their hand luggage. The passenger may also be emitting stress hormones (adrenaline) that this clever canine will pick up, making them all the more positive their hunch was correct.

The next move is to alert their handler by actively scratching the luggage or passively sitting so their handler knows the dog is onto something. Once the bag is checked and if it’s a direct hit, the Collie gets their reward. This could be a toy they love playing with, as their tail wags and they play bow knowing they got it right. If a sniffer-dog suspects a person is carrying narcotics in their clothing or strapped to their body it will quietly stalk behind them, then sit, waiting for their handler.

Body Language

Signs a Border collie can smell narcotics include:
  • Alert
  • Scratching
  • Wag tail
  • Sniffing
  • Stalking
  • Play bowing

Other Signs

More signs a dog has detected drugs are:
  • Passively sitting by luggage
  • Following a person suspected of carrying drugs
  • Actively scratching at a parcel or luggage

History of the Border Collie

Border collies have a colorful history of origin that goes back to the invasion of the Roman Empire in 55 BC followed by the Vikings around AD 793. Both conquerors brought with them dogs for guarding and herding and it is thought the Border Collie was a product of the Viking spitz-style pooch and Roman drover dogs.

A pooch named “Old Hemp” plays an important role in the evolution of this herding breed appearing as a status symbol to the breed and setting a supreme standard for all other Border Collies to follow.

Old Hemp was the achievement of a breeding program that goes right back to the wolf, the majestic ancestor of Border Collies and all other dogs. Mankind was invested in creating the ultimate breeds and when Old Hemp showed all the desired qualities in a herding woofer, his breeder, named Adam Telfer, must have known he’d created something darn special. 

Hemp went on to produce 200 offspring and when it was time for his final trip to the Rainbow Bridge, a new star called “Old Kep” was born, exhibiting a more generous, kinder nature than his grandfather. Up until then, most Border collies were averse to strangers, so this friendlier character trait was passed down to new generations giving us the animated breed we love.

It wasn’t until 1915 the name Border Collie was officially recognized when the secretary of the International Sheep Dog Society did so in order to differentiate this dog from other Collie breeds.

Old Time Farms Shepherd tells us the name comes from their point of origin on the border of Scotland and North England. Throughout history, there were references to this highly-regarded herding dog as “Northumbrian Collies.” Northumberland is a county in Britain that sits on the Scottish border.

In the late 1800’s, the Border Collie arrived in America and it wasn’t long before their incredible herding abilities were noted. According to Dog Care, a champion pooch named Spot 308 was bought by a Scottish shepherd, who’d made his home in the U.S. This was the start of a dynamic breeding program that saw the Border Collie integrated into their new homeland.

The Science of Drug-Sniffer Dogs

The Border Collie is a versatile pooch seen all over the nation hypnotizing sheep and sniffing for narcotics. They are job orientated and if they were a human, you’d see them always motivated and looking for work. This is not a couch potato woofer like the English Bulldog or Chow Chow, but an energetic entity that loves a challenge.

They are also quick-thinkers like Karl, another Border Collie who can show you his toys by name. You-Tube also presents Nan, who wows with her outstanding repertoire of canine Collie tricks. Checking out a sussed looking person at the airport must be comparable to a cruisy day on the farm herding sheep for this awesome all-rounder who likes being busy.

According to Science Links, a dog nostrils work in a separate fashion, allowing a pooch to determine which way that smell of narcotics is coming from. When we breathe in the air, it goes directly to our lungs. Not so for a Border Collie, as the odor of amphetamine is transported swiftly across mucus tissue to an area at the back of their nose. If a few stinky smells or the aroma of a steak cooking in the kitchen all flow in at once, a dog is equipped to work out which one is relevant. The sniffing qualifications of detectors dogs are second to none.

Training Tips for Border Collies

Border Collies were bred to herd, so training this sensitive pooch to detect drugs will require a positive and patient approach. This breed is naturally hyper-active and needs their brain constantly activated, making them one of the best working dogs on earth.

You don’t want a Border Collie herding people in the airport, so training them to focus on the job at hand is essential. Detection dogs are often chosen for a high-play drive, making the Border Collie a desirable pooch as this fun-loving breed has good times in their bones. Teaching them to find the illegal substance with a session of play as their reward is incentive enough for a Border Collie. You’re looking at a dare-devil dog that woos the crowd at agility trials while using their smart senses to find people in search and rescue.

This is also a pooch that needs direction plus plenty of exercise. The Nest suggests you socialize your new pup early and be ready to feed that high-energy and doggy intellect. This is not the right breed for a person who doesn’t get out much and hasn’t the time or patience to work with them. Basic obedience is a must so your lively Collie dog will sit and stay on request.

Fun brain games like "hide and seek" are ideal for this herding hero. Cognitive Dog Training tells us this game is excellent for getting your dog’s attention and keeping them invested in watching what you do. The “Find It” game encourages your Border collie to step into the paws of Chaser, a dog of the same breed that learned sentences and basic grammar. This game is a mind teaser, as your pup learns to find a toy by name.

How to React When Your Border Collie Finds Something:

  • Praise your pooch.
  • Reward with a toy or favorite treat.
  • Contact the police if they find drugs.
  • If your pooch detects drugs do not let them consume any.
  • Think about advancing their detection skills.
  • Read awesome articles about Border Collie detection dogs.
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