Cadaver dogs perform a grim task, but it is a task that is every bit as essential to modern police forces as the work of a detective or a crime-scene investigator. A cadaver dog is a special type of sniffer dog trained specifically to recognize and pin-point the location of human remains. Extensive research goes into the training of cadaver dogs in order to make them as accurate as possible. Some cadaver dogs are even able to detect the presence of human remains under flowing water. This is especially important to the investigation of homicides. Locating the body of the recently deceased in a homicide case is crucial in obtaining the evidence required for the police to make an arrest, and for the jury to make an informed verdict.
Even in the case of accidental death, locating the body is often an important step in the process of grief and recovery for the families involved. After the attacks of 9/11, while search and rescue dogs were on the look out for survivors, cadaver dogs were also deployed to locate the bodies of unfortunate victims. For many, locating the remains of their loved ones was an essential step in accepting the terrible tragedy that had occurred.
Being a cadaver dog is a trained skill requiring both obedience and a strong nose. Common tracking breeds such as the bloodhound often rely on recently shed skin cells that naturally fall from the skin of living beings. It is because of this that these breeds have greater difficulty in tracking the deceased. The most common breed of dog used as a cadaver dog is the German Shepherd. However, other working breeds such as the Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherd, as well as retriever breeds such as the Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever also make excellent cadaver dogs.