Can English Springer Spaniel Dogs Smell Marijuana?

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Drug detector dogs are putting their sniffing powers to good use finding stashes of marijuana at airports and borders throughout the world. One dynamic breed proving their worth is the English Springer Spaniel, a classy import from Great Britain, a land steeped in history with a royal Queen that resides in Buckingham Palace. 

Initially bred as a gun dog to retrieve and find wild game, the sniffing prowess of this high-energy, intelligent woofer was recognized and put to work. English Springer Spaniels are fast learners and already helping police and customs find marijuana destined for the streets. If you're interested in this regal breed, read on!

Introduction of Can English Springer Spaniel Dogs Smell Marijuana?

Book First Walk Free!

Signs a Springer Spaniel Can Detect Marijuana

Meet Archie and Mac, two Springer Spaniel brothers sniffing drugs for Scotland Yard. Their high prey drive makes them great candidates for this line of work, along with an outgoing personality and a ton of energy. Metro, UK ran the story of these two Springer pups destined for a life of detector work and representative of this stylish dog breed, sniffing out explosives and narcotics.

People in the business of couriering illegal substance like marijuana must have had a bad day when dogs began their journey detecting drugs. They’ve proved how easy it is for them to find this drug - even if it is well concealed. Some creative crooks are hiding it in jars of coffee hoping the stronger scent will throw off the pooch. An English  Springer Spaniel on the job is likely to wag their tail with glee, knowing they can separate the scents.

When a sniffer dog comes across a peanut butter jar filled with marijuana, their nose will smell peanut butter and marijuana. The dealers who try to smuggle this drug should have done their doggy homework. They would learn that pooches have a sense of smell far more powerful than ours and an ability to categorize individual scents.

Too late, you’re busted!

The Springer Spaniel at the airport will pace up and down the luggage coming off a plane and, with all senses on high alert, locate the concealed drug. This skillful sniffer-dog detected there was peanut butter and marijuana inside a jar as he began digging and scratching at the suspicious bag. Springer Spaniels love play, so their reward will be a tennis ball, toy, or rolled up towel. They’ll play-bow as their handler confirms drugs were found.

It’s time to meet Ruby, a Springer Spaniel star who has driven the money smugglers crazy, finding 10 million (British) pounds in cash, at the last count. The Daily Mail tells us Ruby even got a whiff of the Queen's handbag as she passed through Heath-row airport.

If Ruby suspects someone is carrying illegal tender, she'll jump up without touching the person so she can smell parts of their body. Her head will be turning and her ears flapping as she hones in on the scent.

One of the best drug detector dogs in New Zealand is a Springer Spaniel called Max who works diligently with Chris, his Newcastle born handler, to keep prisons free of drugs. This story was run by Risk Group and highlights the popularity of this breed as a super-sleuth detector dog.

Body Language

Signs a Springer Spaniel can sniff out marijuana and other drugs are:
  • Alert
  • Digging
  • Jumping up
  • Scratching
  • Wag tail
  • Play bowing

Other Signs

More signs an English Springer Spaniel is a great detector dog include:
  • Sniffing marijuana even if its concealed
  • Determining multiple scents at a time
  • Loving their work

History of English Springer Spaniel Dogs

History of Can English Springer Spaniel Dogs Smell Marijuana?

The matriarch of your pet Poodle, and all dogs, is a prehistoric wolf that became extinct the same time as mammals like saber-toothed tigers. We are a looking at an approximate time frame of 9000 – 34, 000 years ago, as anthropologists continue to dig up new evidence pertaining to our dog’s ancestry.

Looking at the gentile English Springer Spaniel it’s hard to imagine they originally came from a wolf. A rigorous breeding program implemented by human-kind saw weird and wonderful images of manufactured dogs appearing in nations all over the world. Some were designed for the hunt while others were bred to guard or herd a farmer’s livestock.

Man and dog were evolving together at a rapid pace and formulating close working relationships. One of today’s top detector dogs, the English Springer Spaniel was first sighted in writings around 17 A.D, with a reference to water Spaniels being gifted to an Irish king. It’s thought the breed originated in Spain and was taken to England by conquering Romans and traders.

There was mention of dogs resembling this gallant gun dog in the 14th century, followed by paintings of Springer Spaniels in their early conception. Literature in the 16th and 17th century makes reference to a crouching and springing Spaniel with the further breeding of the springing Spaniel to become the larger Springer and smaller Cocker Spaniel.

English Springer’s made their way into North America around the early 1900’s and were soon recognized as great detectors of game birds and immortalized with the first English Springer Spaniel Club, founded in 1921.

This floppy-eared, medium-sized hunting dog is also an affectionate family pet. Springer Spaniels are awesome with kids but perhaps reserved with strangers. They present a courteous nature and a tail that never stops wagging. Being super easy to train with a nose for the scent makes them some of the best detector dogs.

The Science of Springer Spaniel Dogs Smelling Marijuana

Science of Can English Springer Spaniel Dogs Smell Marijuana?

A study supported by the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association in conjunction with researchers at the University of Minnesota and Missouri has discovered a gene could be responsible for epilepsy and seizures found in this breed. The gene marker was more apparent in show dogs than field Springer Spaniel's and may go back to breeding in the 19th and 20th century with Cocker Spaniels and Springers in the same litter.

The manic breeding program of pedigrees through past centuries has left a legacy of doggy health issues. When evolution is artificially sped up, mistakes happen!

Luckily, we are blessed with this aristocratic breed that is a great companion and sniffer dog with a nose for keeping folks honest. The Springer Spaniel sits in the top ten for dogs with the best sense of smell and leaves no doubt how determined they are working for the police and customs.

Looking up a dog’s snout, we see a complex system that delivers the scent at lightning speed. With 300 million scent receptors, it's no wonder they out-smell us on every level. When a woofer inhales, they breathe the air to stay alive - plus that taste-temping aroma coming from the local diner. Each nostril has a mind of its own, allowing a woofer to tell where the scent is situated. Dogs have been given the gift of smell and here’s hoping the stinky stuff doesn’t perturb them too much.

When they are sniffing for marijuana, they are actually tracking down their reward toy. Anyone who thought they might be hooked on the smell of cannabis can relax as it's their tennis ball, toy, or rolled-up towel they are trying to find.

Most detector dogs are trained to sniff an array of drugs from marijuana to amphetamine, cocaine to heroin. According to The News Review, Harley, an English Springer Spaniel who works for the Oregon State Police, has upset drug traffickers by finding a shipload of these illegal substances.

Training Sniffer Dogs

Training of Can English Springer Spaniel Dogs Smell Marijuana?

A dog with a high play drive and nose for hunting makes a premium detector dog, as they track the scent and get their toy reward.

Any dog headed for detector glory needs to know basic obedience training and enjoy the challenges offered. It seems too many folks want a free ride in life, which keeps the K9’s busy tracking the drug couriers.

Training a woofer to understand a certain scent revolves around a toy, tennis ball or small white towel. A new pup on the scene is shown the fun to be had with their toy and then marijuana might be wrapped up in the towel and placed somewhere for the dog to find. It’s all about association. The pooch finds the toy that smells of drugs and, as training advances and the dog is familiar with the scent, their favorite toy becomes the reward.

There’s been a lot of concern about dogs being in contact with addictive drugs, but mostly, they are heavily concealed. If drugs are found to be loose or exposed, the handler removes the dog immediately. Real drugs are used in training sessions, but the amount is very low. Dogs have amazing sniffing senses and can find the smallest amounts of any scent.

Their noses can sniff underwater and around 40 feet under the ground, possibly why they are able to detect earthquakes, as the plates shift with rocks being thrown all around.

English Springer Spaniels are top guns in the world of detection as they sniff out cancer,  bombs, DVDs, cash, and drugs. There’s even a Springer Spaniel named Angus sniffing out super-bugs at a Vancouver hospital

Teaching your dog to use their sniffing powers requires training them to find a specific scent. Some bomb detector dogs are trained using cans or boxes with the odor of explosives in one of the containers. Dogs chosen for their drive and motivation tend to learn fast and, before you know it, are out in the field sniffing for bombs. Dogs can be taught to smell just about anything, from buried human remains to marijuana.

How to React When Your English Springer Spaniel Finds Marijuana:

  • Don't let them sniff or consume it.
  • Praise them for finding something.
  • Take it to the police unless you live in a state where its legal.
  • Read interesting articles about English Springer Spaniels.
  • Share your story!