If you’re the lucky owner of a Beagle, you’ll know that these are no ordinary dogs. The Beagle’s amazing nose and his wonderful temperament mean that he’s ideally suited to a number of activities out in the real world. Here are some of them.
The Beagle’s excellent sense of smell gives it a great advantage above other breeds. You will often see Beagles being used by airport customs officials as sniffer dogs. They can be trained to detect items such as fruit and agricultural products being illegally brought through borders from other countries, as well as narcotics and money. They can smell these items from a fair distance, wrapped and hidden inside luggage. They are perfect for this work because of their smaller size, which means they aren’t intimidating to people who would usually be afraid of dogs. This is one of the reasons they are preferred for this work over larger breeds like the German Shepherd.
Pest control services have started to use Beagles to sniff out termite infestations in homes. Beagles are ideal for this when compared to other breeds – for one thing, they are extremely enthusiastic and driven, sniffing out their targets for the sheer pleasure of it. It’s also said that they respond very well to food reward systems, and have a high drive for food. This means they can be taught to filter out other interesting smells and only hone in on those that are important.
Beagles have been used in hospitals. In 2012 one hospital in Amsterdam started using a Beagle called Cliff, who they trained to detect a superbug called Clostridium difficile. After just two months of training Cliff was able to detect the infection from 25 out of 30 infected patients, just by sniffing the air around their beds. When he reaches an infected patient, Cliff simply sits down beside their bed and waits for his reward.
Beagles are also being used to sniff out mould problems in buildings, using the same skills they would use when detecting agricultural products. The US Environmental Protection Agency is one organisation that is using them.