Can Drug Dogs Smell Hemp Oil, Lotion, or Flower?

Can Drug Dogs Smell Hemp

Dogs have 300 million olfactory receptors in their nose. This is what gives them such an amazing sense of smell, estimated to be 10,000 times more accurate than us humans. Their sense of smell coupled with their ability to be trained, makes them a key tool in the arsenal of law enforcement, being used to smell and sniff out drugs including marijuana.

Whether that means police and drug dogs can smell hemp-based products is debatable, and from the research I’ve done, there are some variables involved. Here’s what I discovered online about dogs being able to sniff and detect hemp; the short answer first, followed by more in-depth analysis.

Can drug dogs smell hemp? Police and drug dogs can smell hemp, oil, lotion, and flower. Whether they have been trained to sniff hemp out and detect on it though is a different matter. If hemp and marijuana smell the same, and the dog is trained to signal on weed detection, then it could be possible.

Can drug dogs smell hemp oil? 

You will commonly see crime fighting pooches working at airports, festivals, or with police handlers to help sniff out a wide range of narcotics. Whilst hemp oil isn’t a narcotic, it is said that it could smell similar to the scent of marijuana to the nose of a drug or police dog.

To find out what the possibility was, I spent some time watching videos and reading articles by professionals who work with sniffer dogs.

It was interesting to find out whether dogs can detect hemp oil, and how the police train them to sniff them out. Here’s what I discovered…

Did You Know? Dogs have a such an amazing sense of smell that they are said to be able to sense when women menstruate!

Can police dogs smell hemp?

Drug dogs can smell hemp oil, but whether they have been trained to sniff them out and alert their police handlers is another matter.

Police and airport authorities would not train their drug dogs to detect for hemp – and even some forces are now reducing the training of dogs for marijuana detection – preferring to focus on different narcotic types.

But of course, given that hemp can smell like marijuana there is a risk. If the dog is trained for marijuana, then it could detect on hemp oil.

The bottom line is, police dogs can smell anything they have been trained to. For example, research published in 2019 found they dogs can accurately sniff out cancer in blood. If dogs can smell cancer cells, they can certainly smell hemp.

“Dogs have smell receptors 10,000 times more accurate than humans’, making them highly sensitive to odors we can’t perceive. A new study has shown that dogs can use their highly evolved sense of smell to pick out blood samples from people with cancer with almost 97 percent accuracy.” (view source)

Are drug dogs trained to smell hemp oil?

Drug dogs are not trained to smell hemp in states and countries where it is legal. Even in places where hemp will have some form of prohibition, it’s probably still quite unlikely.

The reason being, it takes effort to train a dog to detect smells, with patience and time needed until the dog consistently alerts to the scent correctly.

There’s also the consideration that training a dog to smell hemp oil is a waste of resources. Given the demand for certain drugs and their impact on society, it’s fair to assume that the majority of police sniffer dogs would be trained to smell for amphetamines, cocaine, and heroin.

Did You Know? There’s a lot of confusion and debate on whether dogs are able to smell edible marijuana products like pot cookies.

Based on my research, I would conclude that it’s unlikely that drug dogs have been trained to sniff out hemp oil.

However, if they were trained, they would make a great job of it.

How drug dogs are trained to detect on narcotics

Dogs can smell out and signal for anything they are trained to do. If police or airport wanted to train their sniffer dogs to smell for hemp it would require the following process:

  • The dog is taught to associate a favorite toy with the smell of hemp oil.
  • The training toy will often be a small white towel which the handler will play tug of war with them. It can be easily cleaned and used again and again in the drug training game.
  • Because the dog knows the towel is fun, trainers will eventually progress to putting small trace amounts of the target scent. In this case, it would probably be traces of hemp oil.
  • Police dogs will start to associate the smell of hemp oil with playtime. This then means that sniffing out hemp products becomes a game, with rewards given to the dog once he finds the towel’s location.

Any dog can be trained to be a sniffer dog, but some breeds are better than others such as any of the retriever breeds, German Shepherds, and Beagles.


Dogs have been trained to smell for drugs and explosives for years and have an amazing reputation for doing so.

I can find no evidence of any police dogs being trained to smell for hemp oil. Where it’s a legal product, it makes no sense for them to do so.

But some police dogs will have been trained to smell for marijuana, so there is a risk that they would detect on hemp. Some sniffer dogs are also said to alert their handler to unusual smells too.

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Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

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