Can Drug Sniffing Dogs Smell Vape Cartridges Wax

Dogs can be trained to detect any smell because they have a great sense of smell. This is why so many law enforcement agents train and use them in their operations.  They are trained to sniff and detect almost any scent.

Dogs have hundreds of millions of olfactory receptors present in their nose, which is why they smell ten thousand times better than humans. They can be easily trained to detect specific drugs as long as it has a scent. However, it has remained a question if a drug dog can detect vape pens and cartridges’ smell.

Can Drug Dogs Detect Vape Pens?

As stated earlier, dogs can be trained to detect hard drugs such as cannabis, nicotine, and many more. Vape pens are not an exception, although it depends on what it contains. Some law enforcement agencies can utilize trained dogs to detect the scent of vape juices.

In essence, if a vape juice has a hard substance, trained dogs can detect the hard substance in it, no matter how the smell is disguised. 

Can Drug Dogs Detect Vape Cartridges?

Likewise, dogs can be trained to smell THC; hence, they can detect vape cartridges that contain cannabis. The dogs may not perceive the smell of hard substances through the glass cartridge of a vape pen. However, the smell of the illegal substance on the person’s finger at the exterior part of the vape pen can be detected by the dogs.

Nonetheless, military dogs are trained to detect the smell of things as tiny as micro SD cards, so detecting a vape cartridge that contains some illicit substances shouldn’t be tasking for them. So, it all depends on whether the dog has been thoroughly trained or not.

This is how the dogs detect hard substances in vape cartridges and pens;

How Drugs Dogs Detect Vape Cartridges and Pens

Sources from dog handlers in the law enforcement agency said that drug dogs could only detect within the range of two to five different drug substances. This implies that if you train a dog to detect THC (cannabis), it will detect the cannabis wherever it is present. Even if it is mixed with other substances, it will still detect it no matter how hidden the smell is.

If a custom dog is trained to detect nicotine, it will detect it, even in vape pens and cartridges. These trained dogs are usually used at borders where tobacco trafficking is common. They are used to check for tobaccos and other hard drugs.

Even if the drugs are mixed with a liquid, for instance, in a juice, these trained dogs will detect the hard substances in them. This is due to the ability of these sniffer dogs to differentiate between mixed odors. They will detect the hard substance smell, no matter how hidden they are.

An instance is when you, as a human, cook a stew, the smell you perceive is a smell of stew. On the other hand, when a dog smells the stew, it can sense the scent of individual ingredients present in the stew. If a dog is trained, it detects the seasoning in a portion of food even when mixed up in the food.

Drug Dogs Are Only Trained to Detect A Particular Substance

Dogs won’t just start smelling vape pens around only because they can; they need to be trained to do so. Generally, most drug dogs are trained to focus on things that are of the greatest threats to the police and airports. This means that explosives and amphetamines, or any other dangerous elements are believed to be a significant threat to them.

Can Drug Dogs Detect Hard Substances in Vacuum Seals?

Dogs have a tremendous smelling organ; they can perceive the smell of substances that have been packed and sealed in vacuums. The organs responsible for their smell are so cultured that they perceive the smell of vape juice that has been sealed in a vacuum. This liquid will leak and may be on the carrier’s hand, making it easy for the dog to sniff.

The reason behind this is that plastics are majorly used in vacuum bags. Odors can escape vacuums through some microscopic holes present in plastics. So, no matter how tight a vacuum bag is sealed, liquids will always leak.

Besides, scents of hard substances pollute other items they come in contact with. The same hands which put the hard substance in pens and cartridges will also handle it when sealing. Then some microscopic elements in the substance will, at some point, contaminate the exterior part of the container, thus making it easy for the drug dogs to detect.

Nothing can conceal the smell of cannabis and other hard drugs. The drug dogs can detect the scent of a sealed drug placed at the bottom of a 55-gallon gas container. The drug dogs have been trained for it, an official from the police confirmed.

How Drug Dogs are Trained to Smell Hard Drugs and Substances

Just as discussed earlier, the sniffer dogs can detect any hard drugs and substances trained for, no matter where it is hidden. However, they must have been trained for it. However, let us consider how these drug dogs are trained to detect the smell of vape juice that contains cannabis or nicotine.

These dogs are so good at detecting vape juice because they have been trained to familiarize themselves with the scent of these hard drugs. Apart from having the smelling organ, they have also turned detection of these hard drugs into a fun game for them. Thus, it makes them want to play this game.

So the following processes are followed when training a dog to detect hard drugs in vape juice;

  • The dog is made to socialize with a training toy that has a scent of vape
  • The toy may be a small towel, white in color, of which the trainer plays the“tug of war” game with the dog. The towel can be easily washed and reused again.
  • Once the dog sees the game as fun, the trainer then adds some traces of the target substance on the towel.
  • The drug dogs then start sniffing the towel and getting familiarized with the smell with time. This automatically implies that detecting the scent of vape cartridges and pens becomes a game for the dogs. 
  • Then the trainer may progress to putting the towel in some hidden places for the dog to find. However, ensure to reward the dogs with treats immediately it locates the towel.

During training periods, real drugs are used, but in minute quantities due to the dogs’ ability to sniff out smells. The dogs are then trained to locate the scent by sitting down and pointing the nose to the exact location. However, note that any dog can be trained. 

The difference between a sniffer dog and other dogs is the training they go through. But some breeds do better than others. The most breeds commonly used for detecting vape substances include the German Shepherds, the Retriever breeds, and the Beagles.


You may observe the military officials fighting crime with dogs. You may also see some police officers working at the borders or airports with dogs to detect a wide range of illicit substances. But with comprehensive research and reading articles on sniffer dogs, I have been convinced that;

Drug dogs can detect the smell of vape pens and cartridges. The dog’s willingness on whether or not to sniff the substance depends on how it has been trained.

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