Detection Canine

Detection Canine

Detection Canine Team working the crowd at a basketball arenaCanines are an effective resource for detection operations. The Science and Technology Directorate's (S&T's) Detection Canine Program provides the Homeland Security Enterpris (HSE)—including DHS Components, state, local, tribal, and territorial agencies (SLTT)—with the tools, techniques, and knowledge to better understand, train, and deploy detection canines in their operational environments.

S&T is working with DHS partners, including the Transportation Security Administration, other federal agencies, and state and local law enforcement, to:  

  • Provide a central focal point for DHS canine research and development and test and evaluation
  • Promote intra-department and interagency coordination to drive the development of technologies with broad application for the whole of the HSE
  • Provide a specific focus on the Person Borne Improvised Explosive Device (PBIED) detection canine

Program Capabilities:

  • State of the Art Lab Analysis
  • Independent/Expert T&E Assessment
  • HSE Community Outreach
  • Cross Discipline Odor Discrimination
  • Interagency Partnerships

The program has three specific focus areas:

  • Development and testing of canine training aids that can be used to improve and test canine ability to detect new threats
  • Independent operational test and evaluation capability for detection canines; discovering canine strengths and weaknesses by performing in-field assessments; and using a scientifically rigorous approach with statistically significant results to enhance and validate testing methods
  • Canine R&D structure and function with focus on basic understanding of canine olfaction, cognition, genetics, genomics and breeding, and behavior to improve operational efficiencies and training methods

The DHS S&T PBIED Canine Initiative was started in 2012 in order to understand the strengths and limits of canines specially trained to detect PBIEDs being carried in by people, either on their person or in bags, in mass transit and large crowd event operational environments. This type of parametric study and testing has not previously been done, but is critical to scientifically determine the limits of performance.

The Regional Explosives Detection Dog Initiative (REDDI) was started in 2017 as an outreach effort aimed at advancing the knowledge and capabilities of our nation’s detection canine teams. This initiative addresses the need for a centralized focal point within DHS to address mission requirements, conduct operationally relevant research, facilitate knowledge sharing, and act as a repository of expert advice for the detection canine community. Agencies interested in hosting a REDDI event can send a request to

Current R&D Activities


Additional Resources






Learn more about our R&D mission and discover how you can Work with S&T to help strengthen the nation's homeland security!

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