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Before Hiring Tracking Dogs...

What You Should Know About Scent and Scent Dogs

Scent specific tracking dog is presented with a scent article.

Below are some of the myths, truths and factors that can affect scent.


  • There are many factors that affect scent and a scent dog's ability to easily find and follow an animals scent trail. Time, weather, heat, strong winds, heavy rains, ice, snow, nicotine from cigarette smoke, or heavy contamination by chemical, auto fumes, diesel or gasoline can all contribute to a poor or difficult scent trail. A trained and certified dog should be able to decipher and work though most of these difficulties.
  • You will need to provide the K9 Handler with an article that your pet has touched, laid on or used in some way. Yhe scent article must not have the scent of other pets or animals on it. This is what the tracking dogs will use to find and follow only your missing pet's trail.
  • Contrary to popular belief, rain does not wash scent away but refreshes it and makes it easier for most dogs to detect and follow. Snow and frost also do not generally have a great effect on a trained dog’s ability to find and follow a scent trail. Flooding and large puddling can make scent impossible for a scent dog to follow. 
  • It is also important to note that pets, especially dogs can travel great distances depending on how long they have been missing. The best scent dogs are trained to follow the most recent scent trail they can find but if a pet has been out in the escape area for a length of time, this can make detecting the correct track difficult and time consuming for the scent detection team. Also, you need to know if prior to his disappearance, the subject spent time in the escape area, (besides inside his own home, car, yard, etc.).




Karin TarQwyn - Founder Missing Animal Scent Dog Network - MASDN

How Long Does Scent Last?

By Karin TarQwyn- Private Investigator and K9 Handler specializing in missing pets since 2005



This is a highly controversial and much discussed subject with many purported experts weighing in on what they know or feel. After 22 years handling scent specific scent dogs, this is what I have learned.

 There is only one answer to the question "How Long Does Scent Last?

The Answer is:  Viable Scent is different from dog to dog.


 As you search for a reputable K9 handler with trained dogs, you may hear many different opinions on the viability and a dog's ability to detect scent. There will be purported experts that will spout a 14-day limit while others will swear scent is gone in five days. There are other experts that contend scent lasts for years. In truth they are all right and they are all wrong because viable scent is different from dog to dog. Some dogs will be able to detect and follow scent months after the original trail was laid while other dogs may not be able to detect the scent trail after 24 hours. Much of the confusion about scent comes from the way in which handlers train their dogs. If they believe that scent somehow magically disappears on the 15th day, then they will train this way and their dogs will only be exposed to aged trails less than that. Always inquire as to the philosophy of the K9 handler before hiring anyone so you will know what to expect.

So... keep in mind it is more about training and exposing scent dogs to older scent and that there is no exacting time table by which scent disappears.

 After two decades working scent detection dogs and training over 110 dogs in this work, I know this to be the truth.

~Karin TarQwyn