Bed Bug Sniffing Dogs: Breeds, Accuracy and Cost

The use of bed bug sniffing dogs in the detection and treatment of bed bugs at home is not as popular as other methods. But it is one of the most effective and less expensive methods of dealing with bug infestations.

Over time, dogs have been trained to detect quite a lot of things: bombs, cadavers, drugs, termites and so on. So it is not a surprise that in recent time, they are trained to detect a bed bug scent without seeing the pest.

Through canine bed bug inspection, you can be able to know if you have as little (in number) as just one bug hiding behind your appliances without having them moved. Without lifting your bed, you can be able to tell if a bug is hiding under it or not.

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You don’t have to remove the entire carpet to check if there’s one or two there, the bed bug sniffing dogs take away all that stress.

Are Bed Bug Sniffing Dogs Accurate?

95 percent of the time, yes! These dogs are professionally trained to the point they can effectively detect the presence of a bed bug behind a wall, in a pile of clothes etc. Even if there’s just one bed bug there.

They are trained following the guidelines laid out by the National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association (NESDCA). Once they meet the standard set by NESDCA, they are certified and listed on the agency’s official website NESDCA also see to it that bed bug sniffing dog training facilities and handlers abide by the high standards set by the organisation.

Due to their training, majority of the time, bed bug sniffing dogs are very accurate. However, there are times when false positives do occur. False positives here means that the dog gives a signal that there is a bed bug in a place where there is none.

Such a situation do not always happen. And when it does, it is mostly due to body parts or dead eggs from a previously treated infestation still remaining in a corner of the room.

What Breeds Of Dogs Sniff Bed Bugs?

While some persons argue that any kind of dog can be trained to detect bed bugs, others argue that certain breeds perform better.

Based on our findings, the breeds of dogs that are widely used for bed bug detection purposes are: Belgian Malinois, Beagles and Labrador Retrievers. These breeds have from 225 million to 300 million scent receptors in their nose while most dogs about 150 million.

That is the major reason the above mentioned breeds after undergoing some trainings, perform far better than the others in terms of detecting bed bugs.

Do Bed Bug Detection Dogs Sniff The Eggs?

Yes they do. During training, the dogs are taught to detect them just like they do the live bed bugs. Apart from that, they are also taught to detect all stages of the pests. Including their dead bodies, shell etc.They can smell the eggs inside mattresses, pillows, under the bed, in corners and crevices of the room etc.

How Do You Know When The Dogs Have Detected Bed Bugs?

The dogs are professionally trained to give out signals to the handler when they detect bed bug in a particular place. Some of those signals include baring, sitting down at the particular spot or pawing right there.

If you are focused, it will be very easy for you to notice these signals and work with them.

  • Handling False Positives

Sometimes the dogs can give out signals that there are bed bugs in a place where there are none. This is known as false positives.

At some other times, a bed bug can be right within a distance and the dogs will fail to detect it. This is known as false negatives. Although this rarely happens ,you need to learn the factors that always lead to this and how to handle it. That way , the rate at which they occur will greatly reduce. (Read on).

The ability of a dog to detect a bed bug can be affected by a number of things. One of it is the smell of other things around it.

Strong smells in a room where bed bug canine inspection is to be carried out can affect the accuracy of the result. Strong smells like the smell of food coming from the kitchen can distract the dog, causing it to miss one or two bed bugs it could have easily detected.

Also, the presence of tools lie tapes that were used in the treatment of an infestation can cause dogs to give out the signal that there is a bed bug where there is none.

To prevent these two situations, here are a few things to do:

  1. Do all the cooking hows before the canine inspection begins.
  2. Avoid the use of detergents with a strong smell while the inspection is still going on.
  3. Do away with anything that will distract the dog in terms of sounds. Sound from musics, movies etc, can cause the dogs some distractions and make it miss a bed bug.
  4. As the handler, you need to pay real attention to the dog to avoid missing a signal it may giving to you about bed bugs in a particular area.
  5. If possible use more than one dog per time for more accurate results. You can also confirm the signals you received from the dogs yourself before going on with the extermination process.
  6. Ensure that the dogs are properly trained and certified to handle the type of bed bug inspection job you need them to handle.

How To Train Your Dogs To Detect Bed Bugs At Home

Bed bug sniffing dogs can help save you from lots of expenses. They can help you avoid spending too much money buying expensive equipment to use for bed bug detection and so on.

They can also help you identify and treat an infestation while it is still early. Though there are several of them available on the markets, you can train yours at home to perform the exact same function.

Before showing you how to train your dog to detect bed bugs, let me plainly inform you that training your dog for this is not an easy task. It is going to require lots of efforts, time and patience on your part. It’s not a one time thing, you would have to do it over and over before your dog can be truly ready for it. However, the training is totally worth it. Because once your dog is good at it, you have a lot to gain.

Below is a step by step on how to do that.

What you will need: 5 containers (live bed bugs will be placed in 3 of them later), a reward for your dog, live bed bugs.


  1. Place the live bed bugs in 3 out of the 5 bed bugs and leave the other two empty or place dead bed bugs in them.
  2. Allow your dog to sniff both the containers with live bed bugs and the ones with dead bed bugs or empty.
  3. After that, reward the dog with anything you know it will like and it sniff the two containers again.
  4. Take the dog outside the room and hide all the containers. This shouldn’t be very difficult to find at first. You can just scatter them across the room, behind electrical appliances or cushion.
  5. Ask your dog to “find the containers”. If it figures out where the ones with the live bed bugs are, reward with whatever you know the dog likes. If it finds the empty ones or the ones with dead bed bugs, ask it to keep going but don’t reward him with anything.
  6. The more it finds the containers with the bed bugs the more reward you give to it.
  7. Repeat that several times in a day using different rooms and containers. The more you keep doing this, the more the dog will keep learning to recognise the scents of live bed bugs.

Note: While doing this, you need to make sure the bed bugs are all inside one container or the other. Do not make the mistake of placing them directly on your mattress or cushion and asking your dog to find them. To avoid some of them escaping and getting deep inside the mattress.

At the beginning, it will definitely look like it won’t work. Like there’s no way your dog can perfectly master the differences between a live bed bug scent and a dead one. But as you keep practising, it will eventually learn.

Bed Bug Sniffing Dogs Cost

If you do not have the time to train your dog to identify live bugs, you can buy or hire one that has already been trained by professionals.

Presently, the price for a well trained bed bug sniffing dog starts from $7,500. Depending on the size, age and your location. It can be far more costlier than that.

You can also hire one for use at home. Presently, the hourly rate for them starts from $325.

Should You Go For Canine Bed Bug Inspection?

From our discussions so far, giving this method of bed bug detection a chance can be a great idea. However, the choice is still yours to make.

Carefully consider all we have explained in this article and then do whatever you feel is best for you.

In Conclusion

Bed bug sniffing dogs are beginning to gain a lot of popularity among homeowners in recent time. While some are still wondering how effective they are, others are already using them to detect and eliminate bed bugs at home, hotels etc.

Are you searching for bed bug sniffing dogs? I hope you find this information useful.

Do you need to hire a licensed exterminator? Get free estimates from top services in your area.

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