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Professional K9 Blog by DiagNose

A world leader in detection dogs services provision and home of the RASCargO Screening system

Can Sniffer Dogs Detect PETN Concealed in Baggage or Cargo Shipments?

Tests run by DiagNose experts show that the answer is YES.

The growing terrorist threat to the security of air freight – most recently illustrated in the recent attempts to conceal PETN-based explosives in printer toner cartridges, calls for an effective solution to yet another security gap. Within this context there is actually a multiple security gap: on the one hand the quality of the X-ray machine, and on the other, the skills of the person operating it. As well, in the case of complex items (particularly machinery), it becomes even more difficult to detect items that have been tampered with (in this case: the insertion of explosives into the toner cartridges).  Addressing this issue, DiagNose’s K9 experts conducted a preliminary trial to test the detection abilities of EDDs (explosives detection dogs) in scenarios of this type. The tests were run on November 1-2, 2010 at the DiagNose training center in France.

The goal of this trial was to provide a preliminary response to this cargo security threat and to clearly answer the question as to whether dogs can detect concealed PETN.

The teams were asked: (1) whether dogs can detect explosives concealed in toner cartridges; and (2) do toner cartridges contain any substances that mask the odor of explosives.

sniffer dogs

Explosives sniffer dog's clear indication

Trial Details:

Three different types of explosives were concealed in different toner cartridge-related scenarios and presented trained EDDs.

The explosives that were concealed:

a.    Powdered  PETN
b.    PETN mixed with paraffin
c.    C-4

The dogs were presented with three scenarios:

a.    Row of toner cartridges
b.    Toner cartridge in its original packaging found among a group of various items
c.    Toner cartridge in its original packaging packed among other boxes on a shrink-wrapped cargo pallet

In Scenario C the items were also screened by RASCargO™ dogs that analyzed an air sample taken from inside the shrink-wrapped cargo pallet.

The results:

Detection of all concealments in all scenarios by four EDDs, and clear indication of the target sample by the two RASCargO™ dogs.


  • Explosive detection dogs are capable of detecting explosives concealed in toner cartridges, including PETN, in a variety of scenarios.
  • The various substances in the toner cartridge do not mask the odor of explosives.
  • The various substances in the toner cartridge do not confuse the sniffer dogs or cause them to give false alarms.
  • Dogs can provide an effective, reliable solution in the realm of cargo security, both in general and in order to detect concealed explosives in different scenarios.

PETN bomb dogs are available at DiagNose for sale or as a service – contact us

Recommended Reading

One Response so far.

  1. Don Dave says:

    Very informative post, I will keep track of this for my future reference. Thanks for sharing this to us. It was such a a great help.