šŸŽ¶ You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog…

paws-up-Cassandre-CrawfordApparently Elvis hasĀ not left the building. Sam here. You all know I have a big nose and can sniff out the tiniestĀ piece of cheese but a Beagle namedĀ Elvis puts my giant schnozĀ to shame. Seems that ElvisĀ is playing a role in helping save the polar bear population!

As possibly the most adorable pregnancy tester ever, Elvis sniffs out potential pregnant polar bearsĀ to determine whether they are pregnant or not by…get this…sniffing polar bear fecal samples. And heĀ has a 97% accuracy rate to make his ‘canine consulting’ work a big hit with numerous zoos around the country!


Polar bears only give birthĀ perhapsĀ as few asĀ 5 times during their lives, usually only having one or two cubs at time, a rate that is lower than most mammals. Cubs generally are only born every 2-3 years, depending on food supplies. This endangered species needs as much help as possible particularly as their natural habitat continues to shrink. Some scientists predict they could be extinct in 30-40 years. Zoo breeding programs may be the breed’s last hope to exist and are trying to determine whether their females are pregnant so they can be totally prepared at birth. Polar bear cubs typically only weigh about a pound at birth. PolarĀ bears can show all the traditional signs of pregnancy after mating (i.e. weight gain, nesting behavior), but monthsĀ later…zilch.Ā Polar bears are not alone in displaying pseudo-pregnancies, other mammals do it as well including humans. Hormones present in pseudo-pregnant and pregnant bears may be similarĀ enough to indicate a false positive.

Many zoos across North AmericaĀ have resorted to waiting, setting up cameras and monitoring the dens 24/7 to see if their polar bears will give birth. Officials at the Cincinnati Zoo thought there could to be an easierĀ wayĀ than anxious waiting and contacted Matt Skogen,Ā aĀ dogĀ training specialist from Ironheart High Performance Working Dogs to see if dogs with their keen sense of smell, could be trained to detect pregnancies. It was worth a shot.

Enter Elvis who has actually never met a polar bear,Ā he just sniffs their poop. Sniffing polar bear protein samples from fecal samples,Ā Elvis is able to distinguish between pregnant, pseudo-pregnant and non-pregnant bears, a definite boon for zoos and nature centers around the country. Female polar bears often display signs of pregnancy without giving birth, and having an ace in the hole like Elvis can potentially help with increasing numbers of this endangered species.

When he’s not working like a dog at the training centerĀ (he can perform as many as 200 test repetitions a day), he lives with the Skogen family and is said to be happy go-lucky pup who’sĀ very food motivated. (#willworkforfood) Way to go, Elvis!

Does your fur-kid have super sniffing capabilities? What do they typically discover?

Live, love, bark! <3

35 thoughts on “šŸŽ¶ You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog…

  1. Both Bilbo and Lady are feeling depressed once again by the exploits other dogs are getting up to and feel somewhat depressed about being backyard dogs. Bilbo can smell a green tennis ball from some distance and finds them when they’re hidden behind furniture. Very clever but equally annoying!
    Lady can not only sniff out a dead animal from miles away but is very skilled at rolling the stench deep into the follicles of her fur. I would be more than happy to divert her sniffing capabilities to saving the polar bears!
    xx Ro

      1. Definitely! I wrote a kids story about a backyard dog who was looked down on by al the dogs at the beach because he was a backyard dog but then he ended up moving interstate when he ran away during a storm and accidentally climbed into a moving truck and ended up being taken inter-state and becoming a celebrity. Must work on that again!

  2. Amazing Elvis!! But Sam, you’re pretty amazing too. Difficult to say with Benji. We’ve only had him just over six months and a good part of the last three or so have been with the WaWa. Now the WaWa – she’s good at attacking anyone who doesn’t look or smell like Annabell – and I have the bandages on my hand to prove it..

  3. Jeez! Who would have thought shit sniffer was really a thing? šŸ˜‰

    Delilah can sniff bread that is buried under three feet of snow. She will track, track, track and then dive! She’s got good accuracy on that.

  4. Only a human would think that is a dignified job. Why not just look at it. If pregnant, the pile should be larger because the bear is s***ing for 2 or three. I wonder how many false positives have been done-like for a bear named Thomas.

  5. The only thing I have noticed Tippy sniffing out is decaying animal matter that I try to get rid of, i.e. dead animals that she has dragged into the yard. I do know that there are some dogs who can detect cancer, low blood sugar (as stated above), the start of an epileptic episode, etc. They are amazing animals.

  6. Now that’s a really amazing story, Sam! Who would have thought that? I really hope that Elvis’ efforts can help the polar bears to survive.
    Have a wonderful day,

  7. OMP! I’ve heard of dogs sniffing out cancer but pregnancies – that is too cool!! Way to go Elvis! XOXO – Bacon
    P.S. I’m a good sniffer. I can smell food from miles away – HA!

    1. oh, yeah, I met a dog who smells when his human had low blood sugar and warned him.

Feel free to bark your thoughts...but no growling please.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.