News Good News Not just a pretty face: These dogs’ noses could sniff out COVID-19

Not just a pretty face: These dogs’ noses could sniff out COVID-19

Norman, Digby, Storm, Star, Jasper and Asher are ready to be trained to help fight the coronavirus Photo: MDD/BexArts/Nigel Harper
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Have you ever wondered if the coronavirus has a smell?

Neither have we.

But the folks over at Medical Detection Dogs conducted fascinating research, and they say every disease they’ve ever worked on “has a unique odour”.

We do not know if COVID has a specific odour, but we think it will, and if it does, we are confident that they will be able to detect COVID19,’’ the charity has claimed.

The pups at the airport are usually there to bust drug smugglers and sniff out contraband.

But they could soon be recruited to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

And why not?

We’ve already seen llamas join the coronavirus fight.

Research by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) suggests dogs can be trained to detect the smell of malaria, so the possibility of the animals identifying COVID-19 too isn’t entirely out of the question.

In partnership with Durham University and LSHTM, trainers from Medical Detection Dogs will harness six nifty noses to test whether it’s possible.

Candidates have already been chosen for this special ops training.

Meet Norman, Digby, Storm, Star, Jasper and Asher. They could pick up the scent of coronavirus in six to eight weeks.


Age: Two
Breed: Working Cocker Spaniel
Temperament: The perfect mix of laid-back and motivated
At work: Takes his job very seriously, focused
At home: Affectionate, full of life, the perfect companion
Likes: Free running, sniffing, playing ball
Background: Norman joined Medical Detection Dogs from Wood Green, The Animals Charity


Age: 20 months
Breed: Labradoodle
Temperament: Confident boy, sociable and curious. A gentle giant
At work: A methodical, determined thinker
At home: Laid back and friendly. Enjoys a nap
Likes: Toys, going to the park to see friends he knows
Background: Joined Medical Detection Dogs from another assistance dog charity


Age: Three
Breed: Labrador x Golden Retriever
Temperament: Excitable, enthusiastic
At work: Focused and loves to use his nose
At home: Sweet, soft, eager to please
Likes: Chase games, cuddles, sunbathing
Background: Joined Medical Detection Dogs from another assistance dog charity


Age: Two
Breed: Labrador
Temperament: Happy, enthusiastic
At work: Keen to work and full of energy
At home: Loves playtime with her favourite toys, a nice long walk and a cuddle
Likes: Learning and playing with the other dogs
Background: Came to Medical Detection Dogs from a private breeder


Age: One
Breed: Working Cocker Spaniel
Temperament: Busy, keen to learn
At work: Fast but methodical
At home: Loves walks and adventures followed by a cuddle
Likes: Walks, visiting new places, eating carrots, playing with his friends and work
Background: Came to Medical Detection Dogs from Wood Green The Animals Charity


Age: Five
Breed: Working Cocker Spaniel
Temperament: Eccentric
At work: Very focused
At home: Usually found playing in the field or snuggled up on the sofa
Likes: Using his nose, playing, howling to be let through doors
Background: Asher had a tough start and was re-homed several times due to his high drive and sensitive nature, but now lives with the CEO of Medical Detection Dogs, Claire Guest.