4 min read


Can Dogs Smell Steroids?



4 min read


Can Dogs Smell Steroids?


We all know about dogs being good sniffers. This can be good or bad, depending on whether or not you want to keep your dog from smelling something in particular. 

Dogs are regularly used to smell and detect drugs. They’re also pretty good at picking up scents from people and help out in missing-persons cases. What about steroids? Can dogs really smell gym candy? Aren’t steroids virtually odor free? Read on to find out.


Signs of Dogs Smelling Steroids

The way a dog reacts to a scent depends on their training, as they are trained to detect in various ways. Their reaction is also affected by the breed of the dog. Bloodhounds, Basset Hounds, and German Shepherds are known for their superior sense of smell. If a dog is being used to smell out steroids, it is probably one of these breeds.

Usually, a dog is given a whiff of the scent they are supposed to detect. Once they detect that particular scent, they will alert you. What you see on TV – dogs barking loudly or jumping – are actually not the main signs of dogs smelling something, steroids or otherwise. It’s only if they have been trained to bark or jump on detection, that will they do so.

A typical reaction to dogs smelling steroids is using their nose to touch the area where they think the steroids might be. Digging and pawing are also common signs that a dog may exhibit. Law enforcement agencies are careful to train their sniffer-dogs not to hurt any person or damage any property around them, even if they sniff out something of interest.

Body Language

Here are some signs that will tell you a dog can smell steroids. The trainer/handler will decide which of these reactions they want the dog to have when they detect steroids:

  • Staring
  • Alert
  • Barking
  • Whining
  • Jumping Up
  • Sniffing
  • Raise Ears

Other Signs

Here are some more signs that your pooch can smell steroids:

  • Using Their Nose To Touch The Possible Location Of Steroids
  • Pawing The Location
  • Digging
  • Pacing Around Or Guarding The Location

History of Dogs Smelling Steroids


Law enforcement agencies have been using dogs for drugs and other substances of interest for decades. Perhaps this is why most stories of dogs smelling steroids come from the law enforcement quarters. For instance, in late 2008 a sniffer-dog detected steroids in a care stopped for checking at the Mexican border in El Paso. The steroids were hidden inside the dashboard of the car. This dog’s detection of steroids led to the arrest of the man attempting to smuggle 150 vials of anabolic steroids into the US.

The K-9 Unit at the Connecticut State Police has been training dogs to detect steroids since 2009. They do it by training their dogs to sniff the scent of testosterone which can be found in steroids. While steroids comprise of other substances, testosterone is more familiar for dogs.

There are some people say they have stood next to dogs while carrying steroids without upsetting them. This, however, doesn’t prove that the dog didn’t smell the steroids. It may simply be a matter of the dog not reacting to it, which is normal. Then there are those who share stories of dogs at customs detecting the injectable gear they were carrying.

Historically, smelling substances such as steroids has been a matter of some legal/illegal use or transportation. And in those matters, the dogs involved are usually well-trained and are able to smell, and more importantly, alert their handlers to the presence of said steroids.

Science of Dogs Smelling Steroids


You already know that dogs are known for their heightened sense of smell. Getting a little more scientific – a dog’s sense of smell is actually anywhere between 10,000 to 100,000 times better than that of humans. After all, a dog’s nose has some 300 million scent receptors. Because of this superior sense of smell, they can be trained to harness this pawesome power!

Police dogs go through intensive training to be able to detect anabolic steroids. This is the type of steroids usually used to stimulate muscle growth. They’re often illegal in many sports - hence the focus on detecting them. Many dogs are specifically trained to alert their handlers to the presence of an anabolic steroid. Also, keep in mind that dogs merely focus on the odor, not the substance itself. So cross-over smells can be both misleading or provide a breakthrough for sniffer-dogs and their handlers.

Training Your Dog to Smell Steroids


In short, this is a job best left to professionals. Training dogs to smell steroids is usually a law enforcement issue or at the very least, related to some form of professional verifications. Training a dog to smell steroids is an extremely complicated process, as is the case of detecting anything with a virtually-impossible-to-detect odor. It takes weeks of intense work by experienced professionals to accomplish this feat, combined with only certain breeds of dogs.

In addition to being complex, it is also not the safest of endeavors. An overdose of steroids can cause many problems for your doggy, ranging from inflammation to allergic reactions. Considering dogs use their hyperactive noses to detect steroids, the chances of overdosing while training are quite real – and are certainly higher when being attempted by someone inexperienced. Granted, given the time and training, certain dogs can be trained to smell steroids and other substance. Just, don’t try this at home with your pup!

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Safety Tips for Training Your Dog to Smell Steroids:

  1. Keep in mind that your dog will not smell steroids unless trained to do so.
  2. If you want to pet a sniffer dog, ask the handler for permission.
  3. Enroll your dog in a professional training program, if available.
  4. Only certain dogs are ideal for this kind of training.

Written by Fatima Mansoor

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 06/22/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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