Unsuitable guide dogs are now being utilised to sniff out coronavirus

Three dogs, unsuitable to be guide dogs for the blind, have been donated by charity Guide Dogs to see if dogs can be used to detect coronavirus in people.

The dogs, found to be unsuitable as guide dogs for the blind, have been donated to the Milton Keynes-based Medical Detection Dogs

The two-year-olds, Ivan, Maple and Spencer, were bred by Guide Dogs, but were found to be unsuitable as guide dogs.

But, their willingness to please has not gone unnoticed.


Chris Allen, Medical Detection Dogs’ training manager, said: “We’re incredibly grateful to Guide Dogs for giving us these three fantastic dogs. 

“Growing up as guide dog puppies, they’ve already had lots of experience being out and about in busy public places.

“The dogs thoroughly enjoy working – it’s a big game. We’re using their willingness to please, their drive, their wanting to use their nose, and shaping and redirecting it in a positive way.”


If successful, the new recruits could be deployed as part of a trial to see if dogs could be used in public places to detect people with COVID-19.

The trial has been backed by £500,000 of government funding, and involves scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Durham University.

Tim Stafford, director of canine affairs at Guide Dogs, said: “Guide Dogs is delighted to be able to support Medical Detection Dogs, and collaborate in the fight against COVID-19 with this ground-breaking work.”

Dogs are known to be able to sniff out conditions are be in-tune if their owner is about to fall ill, for example due to low blood sugar or they’re going to have a seizure.

Time will tell if these good boys and girl will be able to detect COVID-19.

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