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Field Capability of Dogs to Locate Individual Human Teeth


  • Funded by the Desert Research Institute’s competitive Institutional Project Assignment fund.

Additional information and reprint requests:
Mary E. Cablk, Ph.D.
Desert Research Institute
2215 Raggio Parkway
Reno, NV 89512


Abstract:  Avulsed teeth can be difficult if not impossible to recover in the outdoor environment, yet are important for victim identification. This study assessed dog teams as a resource to locate human teeth in a field setting and related performance in training with field capability. Standardized, objective training data were recorded and analyzed followed by double-blind capability trials. In the double-blind trials, 10 teeth were placed in each of six (10 m2) plots. Search time per plot ranged from 27 to 50 min, and the proportion of teeth found by the teams varied between 0.20 and 0.79. Using 0.45 m as a distance criterion for a “find,” the proportion of false positives ranged between 0.07 and 0.75. Results show that dog teams are capable of recovering individual human teeth in the field setting with high precision although capability varies. Training records support a team’s expected field performance. Additional studies are needed.