Reliability of bloodhounds in criminal investigations

J Forensic Sci. 2003 Jul;48(4):811-6.


Anecdotal evidence and legend have suggested that bloodhounds are capable of trailing and alerting to a human by his or her individual scent. This same evidence may be presented to a court of law in order to accuse a particular suspect or suspects of a crime. There is little to no scientific evidence confirming the bloodhound's ability to trail and discriminate the scent of different individual humans. Eight bloodhounds (3 novice and 5 veteran), trained in human scent discrimination were used to determine the reliability of evidence, garnered through the use of bloodhounds, in a court of law. These dogs were placed on trails in an environment that simulated real-life scenarios. Results indicate that a veteran bloodhound can trail and correctly identify a person under various conditions. These data suggest that the potential error rate of a veteran bloodhound-handler team is low and can be a useful tool for law enforcement personnel.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dogs / physiology*
  • Forensic Medicine / methods*
  • Odorants / analysis*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Weather