Skip to Content

Can Drug Dogs Smell Mushrooms?

Can drug dogs smell mushrooms? Drug dogs can be trained to detect numerous legal and illegal substances including heroin, cocaine, LSD, MDMA, fentanyl, marihuana/marijuana, meth, PCP, nicotine and tobacco. 

dried Mexican magic mushrooms is a psilocybe cubensis, a specie of psychedelic mushroom whose main active elements are psilocybin and psilocin - Mexican Psilocybe Cubensis. On a pacific blue bakground.
Photo credit: YayImages.

Most law enforcement police drug dogs are trained to detect different classes of narcotics. Magic mushrooms, shrooms or psilocybin mushrooms are both classified as hallucinogens.

Like nicotine, drug dogs are often not specifically trained to detect psilocybin, however, through experience they can form an association between hallucinogenic substances such as LSD and psilocybin.

What are drug dogs trained to smell?

Police drug dogs and drug dogs in the airports and jails are trained to smell and detect numerous illegal substances.

According to the NNDDA, drug dogs are trained to detect cocaine marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine, MDMA and Opium. 

Other substances that drug dogs are commonly trained on include LSD / lysergic acid diethylamide, fentanyl, and PCP / phenylcyclohexyl piperidine.  

Police walking dog on a dirt path.
Photo credit: YayImages.

What types of drug dogs are used to smell drugs?

Different breeds of dogs are used as police drug detection dogs including Belgian Malinois, German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds, German Shorthaired Pointers, and Labradors.

These breeds are chosen for numerous reasons including their drive to hunt, trainability, olfactory receptors, and agility.

How are drug dogs trained to smell drugs?

There are many ways to train drug dogs to detect these odors. 

The process is called imprinting and one common way is to do so by presenting the specific odor (referred to as target odor) to the dog in a tube or box subsequently marking (using a verbal marker or clicker training) and rewarding the dog with either food or a toy every time it smells that particular tube or box. 

The dogs begin to associate that specific odor with a reward and soon hunt for that odor amongst numerous blank or empty tubes or boxes. 

Once the dog correctly identifies the specific odor, they are then trained to perform a final response to the target odor which in most cases is to sit and stare at the source of the target odor. In some cases the dogs can be trained to scratch at the source of the odor.  

A trained dog sniffing the object with two police officers at investigation site.
Photo credit: YayImages.

What is a drug dog smelling for in the mushrooms?

Drug dogs are not trained to detect the mushroom itself but can form an association between the hallucinogenic chemical compound found on the mushroom and another hallucinogen such as LSD. 

Drug dogs’ sense of smell is far more superior to that of a human. While humans have approximately 5 million olfactory receptors in their noses, dogs have an estimated range of 125 to 300 million, depending on the breed.

Furthermore, the part of the brain dedicated to analyzing smells, known as the olfactory bulb is estimated to be about 40 times larger in dogs than in humans.

So can drug dogs actually smell mushrooms?

The short answer is yes, they can smell mushrooms. But will dogs detect and alert to magic mushrooms, shrooms or psilocybin mushrooms? The answer is maybe. 

There are many variables to consider such as their level of experience and what odors they were initially imprinted on, how the mushrooms are packaged, and how far away the dog is from the odor they are searching.