Can Dogs Smell Cancer?

Many people have heard of the research that is being done to determine can dogs smell cancer. This research started when a person’s dog continuously licked a mole on her leg. She finally went to have the spot checked and found that the mole was actually melanoma. This got cancer researchers wondering if a dog could actually detect cancer through their sense of smell.

The first test was done in Germany with four dogs, two German Shepherds, a Labrador retriever, and one Australian shepherd. These dogs were trained to detect the odor of lung cancer on the breath of humans. These four dogs were correct 372 times out of 400; this is a pretty good rate of accuracy considering that they did not even test the types of dogs with the strongest sense of smell such as a Bloodhound or Beagle.

The reason that dogs can smell cancer is that they are tuned to see the world with their nose. Humans rely mostly on their sense of sight in order to see and understand the world around them. A dog “sees” the world with their nose. In a typical dog their sense of smell is about one thousand times better than a human, when you get into scenting dogs such as Beagles, Bloodhounds, and Basset hounds their sense of smell can be an amazing 10,000 times stronger than yours. These types of dogs can detect odors in parts per trillion, so this makes scenting the toxins emitted by cancer cells within the realm of their ability.

This means that the answer to the question can dogs smell cancer is yes they can. Certain breeds will have a higher success rate, but most dogs have the ability to smell cancer on your breath, in your urine, or even through your skin. Will your dog smell cancer on you? they could, but dogs that are trained to smell cancer have a much higher rate of accuracy.


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