Dog Detectives: 5 Canine Breeds Best for Detecting Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are becoming a growing concern, not just in North America but also in the rest of the world. There have been multiple reports of bed bug outbreaks in densely populated cities across Europe, Asia, and Australia, reflecting the pests’ ability to thrive in various environments. 

The resurgence of bed bugs has been linked to increased travel and trade, urbanization, and the insects’ growing resistance to traditional pesticides. In response, researchers and pest control professionals worldwide are exploring new methods of detection, including canine scent detection and innovative treatment options like heat treatment and non-toxic chemical alternatives. 

Can Dogs Be Used To Detect Bed Bugs?

Just a decade ago, professional bed bug exterminators started using dogs to assist them in detecting live bed bugs. A 2008 study revealed that dogs could accurately identify bed bugs versus other pests 97.5% of the time and accurately locate them 98% of the time. However, a later study in 2014 reported a significant drop in detection rates to 44%.

More recent findings from 2016, originating from Italy, demonstrated a 96.32% precision in identifying bed bugs within hotel settings. These variances suggest that the accuracy of canine detectors is subject to factors like the thoroughness of their training and the proficiency of their handlers.

Benefits Of Using Dogs That Can Detect Bed Bugs

Bed bugs can be extremely difficult to detect with the human eye, especially if they are hidden in the nooks and crannies of your home. These elusive pests are masters of concealment, often tucking themselves away in hard-to-reach areas during the day and emerging at night to feed. 

Bed bug sniffing dogs can accurately detect bed bug scents through mattresses, inside walls, and furniture, leaving bed bugs nowhere to hide. Their heightened olfactory sensitivity enables these canines to uncover infestations that might otherwise go unnoticed by human inspectors. 

Detecting all bed bugs on your property can be time-consuming and challenging without relying on canines. Bed bug sniffing dogs can quickly identify infested areas, allowing for targeted treatments, minimizing disruption, and ensuring you can return to your routine as soon as possible.

What Kind Of Dog Can Smell Bed Bugs?

Not every canine is cut out to be a bed bug sniffer. It requires a specific breed equipped with a keen olfactory sense and an innate hunting drive. The best dog breeds that can detect bed bugs are:



Beagles are one of the best breeds for bed bug detection. They have a keen sense of smell that is around 10,000 to 100,000 times more acute than that of humans. This enables them to smell even the faintest odors emitted by bed bugs. 

Additionally, their inherent hunting instinct drives them to tirelessly search for and identify the source of the scent. Their small size and agility enable them to maneuver through diverse settings, including tight spots where bed bugs typically hide. Additionally, beagles demonstrate exceptional trainability, mastering detection tasks with accuracy and reliability.

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers are also one of the most common breeds used by experts in bed bug extermination when doing inspections due to their remarkable sense of smell. Their gentle demeanor and intelligence allow pest control experts to easily train them. 

They are also highly responsive to scent detection training and can work effectively in both residential and commercial environments. Their adaptability allows them to seamlessly transition between different environments, ensuring thorough inspections in various locations. 

Additionally, their sociable disposition enables them to interact comfortably with homeowners and occupants during inspections, further enhancing their effectiveness in detecting bed bugs.

German Shepherd

German Shepherd

In addition to their extremely accurate sense of smell, German Shepherds are known for their strong work ethic and exceptional precision when finding bed bugs. 

German Shepherds are known for their meticulous attention to detail, allowing them to thoroughly search areas and pinpoint the exact location of bed bugs, even in challenging environments.

German Shepherds are also known for their versatility, making them suitable for various environments, including residential homes, hotels, and commercial spaces. Their natural protective instincts and loyalty to their handlers further enhance their effectiveness in detecting bed bugs. They can also work well in different climates and conditions. 

Border Collie

Border Collie 

Border collies are one of the smartest dogs. They are highly regarded for their intelligence and problem-solving abilities, allowing them to quickly learn and excel in scent detection training. 

Border Collies utilize their keen sense of smell and sharp mental faculties to pinpoint even the most subtle indications of bed bug presence with remarkable accuracy. Their natural inclination for herding and intense concentration elevate their performance in pest detection tasks, enabling thorough investigations and precise identification of infestation origins.

Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terrier 

With their boundless energy and unwavering determination, Jack Russell Terriers tackle detection tasks with unparalleled zeal and vigor. Their compact size and nimble physique enable them to effortlessly maneuver through diverse environments, leaving no corner unchecked during inspections. 

Their exceptional energy and tenacity make them stand out as bed bug-sniffing dogs, ensuring thorough examinations with every assignment.


Bed bugs are notoriously resilient pests that can quickly multiply and spread throughout a property if not properly addressed. Dogs can be indispensable for detecting bed bugs and preventing infestations from getting worse. They can find all bed bugs in a property through their powerful sense of smell. 

Bed bug extermination experts have the knowledge, experience, and specialized equipment needed to identify the extent of an infestation, locate hiding spots, and implement targeted treatment strategies. They understand the behavior and biology of bed bugs, allowing them to tailor their approach to effectively eradicate the pests while minimizing the risk of harm to humans and pets.

Additionally, professional exterminators can guide you on preventative measures to help prevent future infestations, such as sealing cracks and crevices and implementing regular inspections.

With the help of trained canines, exterminators can pinpoint the exact locations of infestations. This means that the treatment is targeted and eradication is more thorough. This also reduces the need for extensive chemical treatments, minimizing potential risks to you and the environment.

About the Author

Luqman Butter is a certified pest exterminator with over a decade of experience in wildlife removal and pest control in Toronto, Canada. He has had the pleasure of dealing with every pest imaginable; from bed bugs, rats, skunks, snakes and bats. His passion for pest and wildlife control has led him to become a trusted voice in sharing knowledge and information about pest and wildlife control with the mission to educate people on how to deal with various pest issues in the most effective way possible. 

Brenda Thompson

Brenda Thompson is an expert in dog behavior with over a decade of experience, and she is also passionate about working with cats and birds. In addition to contributing pet content to, she is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant. She received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2007 and has over 16 years of experience in treating animals. Her expertise is in educating pet owners on common pet health problems and providing them with option-based care to help choose what is best for their companions

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