Can Dogs Sniff Out Diamonds?

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Introduction

Are diamonds a dog’s best friend? It appears so, as our stylish sniffers can smell the expensive scent of a diamond! This is the best news ever for those that love diamonds and enjoy lavish lifestyles. They may never have to pay extravagant prices again if their posh pooch is trained in the art of gem-sniffing. 

Imagine finding a rare pink diamond while in the Australian outback or being presented with a super-rare blue diamond while on safari in South Africa - with your pooch. If you have a flair for the ostentatious, teach your dog to find diamonds, they might just sniff out an undiscovered mine! 

Can a dog really smell diamonds? Read on - you'll be dazzled!

Doggy Diamond Hunters

Once again, dogs' supreme powers of perception are being put to the test. Having proven their ability to detect cancer, earthquakes, and seizures - our savvy sniffers are putting their snouts, where the diamonds are hidden!

A diamond in the rough name Rosie found a dazzling diamond, worth around $18,000 on a walk with her owners. It seems a British jewelry company had tied the gem to a balloon at the beginning of a treasure hunt, designed to be a social media promotion.

The Dodo reported the story and how a GPS that was attached, failed to work. The diamond disappeared until Rosie, a Springer Spaniel with an eye for the ornate, sniffed it out with tail-wagging and smiles all around. Her shocked pet guardians could not believe what she’d found.

The same way that we use sight to navigate through life, our paw-some pals use their nose. They can smell 10,000 to 100, 000 times better than us and pick up scents that make them top sniffer dogs for finding drugs, tracking lost people - or the criminals who got away. They can also smell cancer, bed-bugs, pregnancy, earthquakes,  people lost in deep water, and whale feces. Yes, you heard it right!

A dog’s sense of smell is potent and can pick up a scent 40 feet underground - often saving the lives of people and pets who have been buried under the rubble of an earthquake.

So, how the heck do they smell a diamond, does it even have a smell? Sure, does and our dog-sters can be trained to track this elusive gem, synonymous with love and engagements.

A dog would need to smell certain gases, as a diamond is made predominantly from carbon (highly organized carbon) and it’s still a guessing game how they formed 1-3 billion years ago.

Mining Technology shares the story of a Swedish geologist recruiting dogs to find mineral deposits. These dogs can smell ore 12 meters under the earth! His company, “OreDog”, is making the big guns of the mining world curious.

In 2017, the CEO of “OreDog’  took one of his more experienced dogs, a German Shepherd named Rex, to search for Kimberlite, a rare and not-so-easy-to-find rock that houses diamonds.

Rex can search for diamonds by using his natural sense of smell and you can imagine how excited he gets when he makes a sparkling find. His guardian might hear barking or whining, as he scratches and digs at the ground.

Body Language

Here are signs that a dog is an amazing sniffer:
  • Barking
  • Digging
  • Whining
  • Scratching
  • Wag tail

Other Signs

Here are more signs a dog will give if they are searching for diamonds:
  • Getting Excited
  • Searching Around an Area
  • Head and Nose to the Ground
  • Concentrating on One Spot

The History of Diamond-Sniffing Dogs

In the era of flower power and youthful revolutions, dogs were being used in Sweden, Russia, and Finland to search for minerals. Known as Ore Dogs, they were employed to find nickel for the thriving steel industry.

Lari was the first trained dog in a new program, designed to see if mineral mutts could sniff out sulfur boulders, as they had a whiffy scent. In a competition designed to evaluate if dogs could be better prospectors than people, Lari found 1330 sulfur boulders under the ground, while a miner could only find 270 traces above the ground.

It was proven our canine champs could find the minerals better than humans and for that, Lari was given four sausages as her reward.

Mining Dogs reports with the success of the experiment, more dogs joined the crew and full production started, with around sixteen dogs using their nifty noses to find ore from 1964 to 1994. Finding the ore, gold or diamonds have always been the hard part, but dogs know where the diamonds are buried. They find them faster than expensive mining equipment. 

Getting dogs to hunt for the elusive diamond is being re-invented from the 60’s and 70’s, showing dogs talents are being taken seriously. We are heading into an era of a dog for every purpose. If you thought you’d heard all the things a dog could sniff out – then think again!

Conservation dogs are a relatively new invention, helping eradicate pests and now we have archeology dogs, finding and digging up the past. Some of the bones are 100 or more years old, so that’s an incredible achievement for canines and humans alike. It’s perhaps not as groundbreaking or glamorous as finding a diamond mine, but still - impressive!

The Science of Dogs Who Smell Diamonds

Scientists literally look up the nose of dogs to see what makes them such passionate sniffers. It’s recognized our precious pups are in a league of their own when it comes to breathing in the world at large.

For one thing, they can use both nostrils individually to detect a scent and its thought this is why they make such great trackers. Dogs have approximately 220 million olfactory receptors in their nose, while we have a mere 5 million. This varies between dog breeds, with the lovable Bloodhound ruling the roost with 300 million receptors. If you want to find something or someone, dial the Bloodhound detective!

If there was an Olympic sniffing competition, we would still be at the starters block while our trusty mutts would be taking in the layers of snazzy smells as they race to the finish. Dogs are magnificent sniffers and for that, we are eternally grateful when they detect the melanoma on your back might be malignant or find a lost child missing in the woods.

Scientists are getting the bow-wow buzz as they look deeper into the smelling talents of canines, finding they are a true asset to mankind. They also have expensive tastes.

Truffle dogs are in the business of finding this French delicacy worth a king’s ransom while mining dogs are attracted to the sparkle, of an uncut diamond. Such specialized skills are not uncommon in the family pet, who can smell a person of ill-repute at two paces and sound the alarm - “RUN” - a hurricane is on the way!

Training a Dog to Smell Diamonds

Teaching a dog to hunt for the elusive diamond requires time and patience. The process itself is simplistic, as the dog is taught finding a certain smell will bring rewards.

Digging around in mines where rodents make their home requires a dog to be medium to large in size and able to cope with the unsavory conditions. Where a truffle dog gets to romp through the woods, a mining dog often has to often navigate in the dark, with little light, all while sniffing out rocks.  

Diamonds are formed about 100 miles under the ground in the earth’s mantle and are pushed to the surface by volcanic activity. Remember the “Journey To The Center Of The Earth” film, when they walked into a cavern of dazzling diamond light? Diamonds are mainly found in kimberlite formations, so dogs would need to understand the scent and gases emitted from the rock. Training would be challenging, as this scent may not be aromatic.

Scent training is initiated by giving your dog the item, or a cloth doused in the smell of it, and teaching them to find it on command. Now you might think a dog will get confused, but in time they will learn that particular scent is what their trainer/guardian wants - and dogs love to please!

The more advanced scent discrimination training will teach a dog to aggressively search for an object. A dog needs to be extremely motivated to track diamonds, as hard surfaces do not hold scents well. The relationship between dog and trainer is important, as the doggy prospector needs the freedom to search and find.

Every handler has their own vision of training a dog to track an object but it all comes back to teaching basic commands, and if the dog is a good learner, you can move on to teaching them to sniff out objects.

Using a piece of cloth drenched in the smell is similar to the way police dogs are taught to find drugs in a white towel. A K9 pup is given a rolled up towel with a bag of marijuana hidden inside to play with. Once they are familiar with the scent, training progresses to hiding the towel in various places. A fun, tug of war game is the police dogs reward, while other trainers may you use food treats.

Diamond dogs are adept at finding a given target offering a new vision to the mining world.


How to React When Your Dog Smells a Diamond

  • Offer their toy or treat as a reward.
  • Thank them for potentially making you rich, if they've found a diamond mine.
  • Offer tons of praise.