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High hopes for new breed of sniffer dog

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/12/2016

High expectations are being placed on a new "super-breed" of biosecurity detector dogs.

Clara, a beagle, has given birth to three male and three female puppies. The sire was Morley, a harrier.

Both dogs work at airports and ports to sniff out food and plant materials that pose a biosecurity risk.

The Ministry for Primary Industries hopes the puppies will become the best sniffers yet.

MPI detection technology manager Brett Hickman says it's the first time in the world that anyone has crossed a beagle and a harrier for detection work.

"The idea is to combine the height of the harrier with the proven biosecurity qualities of the beagles we have been breeding for nearly 20 years," he said.

"The result could be the perfect sniffing machine to keep unwanted pests out of New Zealand."

Mr Hickman said the new dogs would grow to the size of a labrador and their extra height would make it easier for them to sniff backpacks carried by travellers or airport baggage stacked on trolleys.

MPI started using harriers as detector dogs last year. It has employed beagles in the role since 1996.

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