The Carabineros Dog Training School is training four dogs only to detect COVID-19 by placing a patch on a person's armpit with possible symptoms for two hours and then taking it to the dog to detect the virus in Chile.

From France to the United Kingdom to Chile, police and cognitive-behavioural researchers are racing to see if dogs can smell people infected with the coronavirus in crowded public spaces.

"It seems that the same sort of process that occurs in cancer detection dogs, or bomb detection dogs, or any other type of detecting dog may apply here too," Dr. Brian Hare, author of "Survival of the Friendliest" and professor of Evolutionary Anthropology, and Psychology, and Neuroscience at Duke University, told Insider.

Here's the science behind how bio-detector dogs sniff out diseases and get trained to keep us safe.

While there is no evidence that conclusively proves sniffer dogs can detect the coronavirus, dogs have long been used to sniff out bombs, cancer, and even malaria.

Marcelo Hernandez / Getty Images

Sources: Science Daily, Mosaic


"There are lots of species that actually have better noses in dogs, but what dogs have is this pairing of a great nose and communicative ability," Hare told Insider.

PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA / Getty Images

Dogs have an olfactory epithelium, responsible for detecting smells, that is 30% larger than that of a human — making their noses especially powerful.

OEL SAGET / Getty Images

Source: The Guardian


"The way that dogs are able to detect the virus or cancer, or even a bomb, is that there's something associated with a stain they're searching for that they can smell," Hare told Insider.

PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA / Getty Images

Sniffer dogs are trained by detecting something associated with illnesses or drugs such as sweat or chemicals and alerting their trainer by sitting or barking.

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The coronavirus has at least seven different strains, making it especially hard to detect, according to Hare.

Leon Neal / Getty Images

Sources: Business Insider


In France, samples of the coronavirus are kept on hand to test the dogs.

OEL SAGET / Getty Images

Source: The Connexion


Officers rub pieces of fabric with the coronavirus and place them in cones to test the dogs during training sessions.

JOEL SAGET / Getty Images

The dogs then sniff each cone and alert their trainer when they've found the infected pieces of fabric.

JOEL SAGET / Getty Images

In Santiago, Chile, the National Police and the Catholic University of Chile are working together to train four dogs to detect the coronavirus in public spaces by September.

Marcelo Hernandez / Getty Images

Source: CNN

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