Home Bed Bugs Bed Bug Sniffing Dogs-How they smell, Sense, Roscoe, Breeds & Cost

Bed Bug Sniffing Dogs-How they smell, Sense, Roscoe, Breeds & Cost

One of the uncommon natural means to detect bugs is by use of bed bug sniffing dogs. It sounds ridiculous…isn’t it? Read on to find out how dogs smell or sense the bugs, roscoe; the sniffer, and best breeds that can be trained to undertake this task.

Can Dogs Smell/Sense Bed Bugs? How Does it work?

Bed bug eradication is often an uphill task for many people. This is because the bugs are adopting new methods to evade the usual eradication techniques.

bed bug sniffing dogs training and cost
Bed bug detector dog in action

The ban on various drugs and chemicals that can be used has also drawn back the efforts to deal with these creepy creatures. It is because of these challenges more creative methods such as use of canines have been discovered recently.

Dogs have very strong and unique senses that can be manipulated for various purposes. The bed bug eradication is possibly one area of application.

How can they detect bed bugs?

In the recent past, dogs have been used in the detection bombs, people, weapons and drugs or even certain cancer types.

The detection of bed bugs has become the new development and it seems workable. It uses the same technique that is used in areas mentioned above. The dogs have an exceptional sense of smell and you can take advantage of this to locate the disturbing pests in your home.

The sense of smell of a dog is about 1000 times that of a human being. It is also possible that your dog can even detect the odors that the scientific methods are not able to. With the appropriate training, the dogs would perform this wonderfully.


It is all about moisture…A dog with a dry and crusty nose is not able to smell the bed bugs. However, once the nose gets some moisture, it is able to smell small organisms as small as the bed bugs.

Your dog has about 220 million cells that are involved in sensing smell. The part of the brain in dogs that is concerned with analysis of smell is larger than that of human beings. This is the reason dogs are not only good at detecting but also differentiating types of odors.

Dogs are also small and agile animals thus this allows them to smell the small organism, bed bugs.

Further, the dogs are able to smell and differentiate between live bed bugs and the dead bed bugs. They also can identify the bed bug’s active eggs. The popularity of dogs being trained to smell bed bugs has become a very popular natural bed bug control.

Canine bed bug inspection accuracy

According a study that was conducted by the University of Florida, there is some proof that the use of dogs to control bed bugs works. Based on the study  accuracy is approximately 98%. This means that if you train your dog very well, it can be very effective in locating live bed bugs and their eggs.

This is evidence enough to make extermination companies adopt it. Many companies to this far have adopted the use of bed bug sniffing dogs.

Bed Bug Dog Roscoe

Roscoe is the lead detective with Bell Environmental Services’ Bed Bug K9 Force.

roscoe bed bug detector dog

According to Bell Environmental, a pest control company, here a few things you need to know about this canine

  • Roscoe was rescued from a pound in Kentucky.
  • Roscoe started his bed bug sniffing dog career with Bell Environmental Services in September 2008.
  • He trained at an accredited dog training institution for over 600 hours with a Certified Master Trainer.
  • Roscoe is a graduate of the Forensic and Scientific Training Investigations Center (FSI) with a degree in bed bug detection.
  • He and his handler hold World Detector Dog Organization (WDDO) certification.
  • Roscoe works and trains with his certified dog handler daily, including weekends and holidays.

Roscoe has made a lot of appearances on American Televisions including the Animal Planet’s Monsters Inside Me series. The dog has also been featured on New York Times.

The dog has also made rounds in various commercials in the Bell Environmental Televisions in the New York Metro area.

The use of dog sniffers to detect bed bugs has been seen as a breakthrough in the eradication process.

Roscoe looks for  bed bugs in the homes, offices, hospitals and schools across the New York.

Jennifer Erdogan of Bell Environmental Services, says that the use of dogs to detect bed bugs is one of the most accurate natural remedy for their control.

The Fairfield, a New Jersey based company has also used canines since around 2009, to detect and get rid of bed bugs.

In a test conducted by the Parsippany, N.J., and Good Morning America, the dog was given containers some without bed bugs and one with bed bugs. To their surprise, the dog went straight to the container that had bed bugs.

Below is a video demo on roscoe detection skills

How much does a bed bug sniffing dog cost?

The use of Canine bed bug inspection remains quite constant and stable.

It takes a lot of money to train these dogs but once they have been trained, they are very useful.

Its price is between $ 300 and $ 400 for a single visit to a standard detached home. The price is likely to change based on the area that is visited and the time taken to do the inspection. The cost of doing an inspection in a small room is lower compared to a larger room.

The distance travelled to carry out the inspection also influences the price. Despite the varying prices based on a number of factors, investment of money in this method is worth consideration.[2]

Best Breeds and Training

What breeds of dogs work best

Not every dog is capable of sniffing bed bugs. There are many species that can be trained to perform this role but there are two which have remained to be the most preferable.

These are Labrador retrievers and the Belgian shepherd dogs. These two species are both skilled to sense the scent but the Belgian Shepherd may not be most desirable over Labrador retrievers. This is according to Sniff K9 website.

  • The Labrador retrievers are outgoing, friendly and very obedient. Their obedient temperament makes them favorites as pets and working dogs as well. They have an amazing sense of smell and this makes them capable of detecting bed bugs.

The detection of bed bugs may not necessarily only involve the detection of scent. It also encompasses how friendly an animal is to human beings. Having all these characteristics, the Labrador therefore merits in detection of bed bugs.

  • The Belgian retrievers have a very sharp and precise scent detection ability. This makes them to be preferred in the military camps and the police force. They are playful in nature, friendly and an amazingly high amount of energy. These dogs however need a lot of exercises and perhaps this is why they are not preferred by most people.[3]

How do you about training?

For a dog to be effectively trained in identifying and detecting bed bugs, it takes about three months, with a good handler under excellent conditions. Another good characteristic of the dog is that it should be friendly to human beings.

First, the dogs need a lot of training and therefore, you should come up with an appropriate exercise plan. Travel with them for substantial distances and this makes them happy and very strong. This training should begin when the dog is about three and a half months old.

In the actual exercise, you;

  1. First, enclose the specimens in a pill bottle and then perforate the lids and close them as you allow some odor to escape but not the specimens.
  2. Bring the bottles to the nose of the dog and say to the dog, ‘sniff’ as you follow with some pellet of a reward.
  3. You can postpone their morning meals from time to time.
  4. Repeating this training for about three weeks makes the dog an expert in this area.[4]

Further Reading


[1] http://bell-environmental.com/wheres-roscoe/meet-roscoe/

[2] http://www.bedbuginspection.ca/pricing/

[3] https://sniffk9s.com/bed-bug-dog-sales-which-dog-breeds-are-best-for-scent-detection/

[4] http://www.ecobugdoctor.com/blog/how-train-detection-dogs-sniff-out-bed-bugs