Cadaver dogs and the deathly hallows—a survey and literature review on selection and training procedure

Clément Martin, Claire Diederich, François Verheggen

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Human remains detection dogs (HRDDs) are powerful police assets to locate a corpse. However, the methods used to select and train them are as diverse as the number of countries with such a canine brigade. First, a survey sent to human remains searching brigades (Ncountries = 10; NBrigades = 16; NHandlers = 50; Nquestions = 9), to collect their working habits confirmed the lack of optimized selection and training procedures. Second, a literature review was performed in order to outline the strengths and shortcomings of HRDDs training. A comparison between the scientific knowledge and the common practices used by HRDDs brigade was then conducted focusing on HRDDs selection and training procedures. We highlighted that HRDD handlers select their dogs by focusing on behavioral traits while neglecting anatomical features, which have been shown to be important. Most HRDD handlers reported to use a reward‐based training, which is in accordance with training literature for dogs. Training aids should be representative of the odor target to allow a dog to reach optimal performances. The survey highlighted the wide diversity of homemade training aids, and the need to optimize their composition. In the present document, key research topics to improve HRDD works are also provided.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1219
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Dog behavior
  • Dog selection
  • Dog training
  • Forensic science
  • Human remains detection dogs


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