Alfie the Springer Spaniel Sniffer Dog Retires with £11Million Haul

After 8 years, 400 arrests and a net haul of £11 million ($16 million), Alfie the springer spaniel sniffer dog has retired from Staffordshire Police.

Pic of Alfie the Springer Spaniel

Alfie was originally donated to the police by a family in Nottinghamshire after they found him to be too hyperactive. Ms Hargreaves, his handler, who has been in the police since she joined the cadets at 16, said: ‘He was way too much for an ordinary family – a bit overzealous and hyperactive – but that’s exactly what we look for in a search dog.

‘He is ball crazy and that’s the first thing we need – a dog who loves the reward of chasing a tennis ball.’

After being assessed by a team of officers, it was clear that he was perfect for the job and Alfie was inducted into the force with eight weeks of training with his handler. She said: ‘I was new to being a specialist dog handler too. Although I’d had a general purpose dog before, Alfie was my first search dog.

‘He’s turned out to be the finest dog the force has ever known.

During his eight years in the force, Alfie has sniffed out £8million in drugs alone, plus cash, guns and ammunition.

‘And Alfie has always been 100 per cent professional – that’s what makes him such a special dog – even when he was doing shift patterns. He did exactly the same hours as me, even when I was working nights or from the early hours of the morning.As soon as I put my uniform on, he was ready to work.’

Alfie retired in October and is being supported by the Staffordshire Retired Police Dogs Scheme now he is no longer in active service. Ms Hargreaves said: ‘Although I was very sad to see him retire I know he’ll enjoy his new home.

‘But I will be fundraising for the Staffordshire Retired Police Dogs Scheme to make sure he has a comfortable retirement.’

Full Story at the Daily Mail

Cash-hunting Springer Spaniel Sniffer Dogs Helping to Collar Criminals –

Yet another job for springer spaniel sniffer dogs! I think it’s 8 jobs now and still counting. They are amazing dogs – I wish mine would sniff out some cash for me!

Edinburgh Evening News

Cash-hunting sniffer dogs helping to collar criminals

Sniffer dog Roddy at work in Edinburgh Airport

Published on Thursday 16 February 2012 12:10

POLICE today carried out a search operation at Edinburgh Airport with sniffer dogs deployed to track down criminals smuggling cash abroad.

The operation by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) saw specially trained dogs check passengers in the airport’s departure area as they prepared to take flights from 6am today.

The crackdown was mounted in a bid to detect money being taken out of Scotland to avoid tax, or to be hidden in foreign bank accounts.

Around 1800 passengers departing on international flights between 4am and 8am today were checked for cash.

A Lithuanian man flying out to Kaunis was stopped after a dog detected money in his jacket. The man was found to be carrying £2000 and interviewed by officials, but was released after officials determined he was taking the money back to his homeland after working in the UK.

Passengers departing on flights to Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels, Tenerife, Krakow, Prague, Alicante, Budapest, New York and Copenhagen were searched as part of the operation.

Security personnel, assisted by officers from Lothian and Borders Police, separated passengers leaving on domestic and international flights into sections, with the dogs a yellow labrador called Marley and a springer spaniel called Roddy checking the bags and clothing of anyone going abroad.

UKBA officers also checked domestic passengers using a profiling system to identify potential smugglers to be checked by the animals and their handlers for money.

A number of passengers were also stopped with small amounts of cash notes before being allowed to proceed. Colin Fraser, senior officer at UKBA, pledged that the cash spot-checks would be carried out on a very regular basis at the airport to snare criminals.

He added that locations such as Dubai and mainland Spain were popular with criminals taking money abroad.

As well as depositing cash in foreign accounts, criminals also take money abroad to buy drugs or cigarettes to be smuggled back into Britain.

Full Story: Cash Hunting Springer Spaniel

Acknowledgements: grateful thanks to

Springer Spaniel Working Dogs

Many Roles

It’s amazing how many roles springer spaniel working dogs fulfil. When you mention it, many people think of the traditional definition of a working dog as one which is used in the field – that is, for flushing and retrieving game. Springer spaniels are probably the most versatile in this respect, as they can work over and in water.

Certainly, labs and other breeds can work well with water too, but I believe the springer is best in this respect, and makes the best all-round sniffer dog. However, this breed works in many other ways too, not just in the field – even, believe it or not, in wildlife protection.

Search and Rescue Dogs

Traditionally, many organisations (especially police forces) have used German Shepherd dogs for searching. However, this breed can make rescued people apprehensive, or even very frightened, so springer spaniels are now being trained for this purpose – for example by Devon and Cornwall Police in the UK.

Explosives Search

Springer spaniels are used extensively as sniffer dogs in security operations, by the police, bomb squads and armed forces – on the front line, searching for IEDs (improvised explosive devices) in Afghanistan, for instance; also for pre-event security searching – for example where senior politicians or VIPs will be in attendance. Not that VIPs need protection per se, but because they are targets for terrorists and other people are also threatened.

Drug Search

At harbours and airports particularly, springer spaniel sniffer dogs are widely used for detecting illegal drugs. The air cargo business has been increasing at a high rate, particularly for high value/low volume cargoes – and drugs fit well into this bracket; air freight also removes the need to dupe genuine travellers or pay couriers to carry it, which increases risk. People and their luggage, or freight, the springers can sniff it all.

Dead Body Search

Good sniffer dogs can detect human scent easily at a hundred yards and much more (depending on wind speed and direction), but also the gases escaping from decomposing flesh underground.

Underwater Bodies

In Scotland, a springer spaniel is used to locate dead bodies underwater, in the River Clyde. Apparently, the decomposition gases can be detected on the surface by the springer spaniel.

Wildlife Protection

In Australia, the New South Wales Parks Department has a springer spaniel sniffer dog which has been trained to detect Small Penguins. The breed is under threat as the number of breeding pairs has fallen, and a springer spaniel is used to locate and track them so that an accurate count can be kept.

Preservation of Ancient Buildings

In South Korea, ancient monuments – many of which are made of timber – are threatened by termite attack. Three springer spaniel sniffer dogs are used to detect termite nests and potential infestation. The dogs are taken around the various monuments regularly, checking against the threat.

Why Are Springer Spaniels Used as Sniffers?

They have one of the best ‘sense of smell’ of any breed, able to detect one billionth of a gram of explosives or drugs. With a very high workrate they cover ground very quickly. They are compact in size and can therefore get into nooks and crannies in ships and planes that would be inaccessible to larger breeds. Besides size, their agility is a great benefit in searching. Compare a springer to a bloodhound! Many are trained in the UK Search Dogs and the International Rescue Training Centre in Wales.

It’s amazing isn’t it, what these marvellous dogs are used for? And when you see the films of them in action, they enjoy their work so much – it seems to be so much fun to them! And yet, their purpose is often serious.

Do you know of any other interesting work that they do? If you do, email me with details.

Springer Spaniel Training – Clever Trevor Sniffs The Goods

Made me smile! The things that springer spaniel training leads to…

Clever Trevor, a springer spaniel sniffer dog, discovered drugs that a South African  Airways air hostess had hidden in her underwear.

3 kg cocaine at Heathrow Airport.

Another great example of a springer spaniel working!

Full story here at the BBC

Springer Spaniel Training – Finding Bodies Underwater

Glasgow Evening Times


21 Oct 2011

HE is believed to be the only dog in Scotland trained to recover human remains from under water.

And now Barra is ready to start work on the River Clyde or wherever he is needed.

The 19-month-old Springer Spaniel belongs to Iain Marshall, 44, from Dumbarton, who read about using dogs to find missing people on the sea bed in a magazine.

The station officer at Helensburgh Coastguard and a boatman on the Clyde for Glasgow City Council, decided on his own to research the idea then travelled to Wales to get Barra and train him.

He said: A lot of things happen on the river and unfortunately people go missing, they sink to the bottom and it can take weeks if not months for these people to refloat.

I was reading an article in a magazine about these dogs that can locate bodies under the water and I thought this would be ideal for the river because it could bring closure to peoples’ families.

He contacted Nick Swindells, from UK Search Dog, who agreed to train both Iain and Barra on a year-long course at the International Rescue Training Centre in Wales.

Barra locates bodies by smelling gases they release.

He said: A dog’s natural ability is to go and locate scent, but when you are using him on the boat you are bringing him to the scent, the scents coming to him rather than him going away looking for it. It is a difficult discipline to do with a dog.

As far as I am aware Barra is the only qualified submerged remains search dog in Scotland.

Barra has already helped find a missing person.

Full Story:

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