Five things you might not know about truffle dogs
If you are a bit of a truffle aficionado, then you’re probably well-aware dogs are used to harvest truffles in Australia.
Much more sensible than the pigs used in other parts of the world (who tend to simply eat the precious haul), dogs use their snuffley super-powers to detect when the truffles are ripe and ready for unearthing from their underground homes.
Here are five things you might not know about these highly-skilled hounds and their useful snouts.
- They don’t need to be a particular breed
Whilst some breeds are more ‘on the nose’ than others, all sorts of dogs can grow up to become certified truffle hunters. The dogs involved in the 2019 Truffle Festival – Canberra Region, for example, range from Jack Russells and Labradors, to Border Collies and Kelpies.
- You CAN teach an old dog new tricks
When it comes to training pups, whether that’s to ‘sit’, ‘stay’, or dig up gourmet delights (perhaps not a standard command but nonetheless), it’s all about praise and reward. Whilst most truffle dogs are introduced to the pursuit from an early age, there are many stories of older dogs who have been trained to snuffle for truffle. Age shall not weary these guys!
- Call in the professionals
Not all truffle farms have their own dogs. There are several businesses in Australia who specialise in training truffle dogs, and they travel around to truffieres to let them uncover the fresh, delicious truffle.
- Their nose knows!
Dogs’ sense of smell is well-known. Some say it’s 1,000 to 10 million times better than humans. Yes, that’s a broad range, but you get the idea. Add in the distinctive, powerful smell of fresh truffle and you have a match made in smelly doggy heaven.
- The ground rules
Different strokes for different doggy folks, but most dogs use a combination of air and ground sniffing to locate truffle. Many lightly paw at the ground with their paw to show their handler where the treasure can be found. And if X marks the spot, it’s reward time!
If you want to meet the region’s truffle dogs and see them in all their tail-wagging action, make sure to join a truffle hunt during the 2019 Truffle Festival – Canberra Region. Spots are limited so get in quick.
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