July 14, 2024
Can K9 Dogs Smell Vapes

As a fellow vaper myself, I understand more than anyone else how worrisome it is for you to carry vapes. The laws around vapes are still fuzzy. On top of it, cops now use k9 dogs for detection. So, I deep-dived on the question, can K9 dogs smell vapes? 

K9 dogs absolutely can and do smell vapes. K9 police dogs have 300 million scent receptors. Thus, with certain training, they can and will detect e-cigarettes with more than 90% accuracy.

Now, are you interested to know more about how they do this? I’ll explain everything you need to know about K9 dogs and vapes. So stick with me. 

Can K9 Dogs Smell Vapes? How? [In-depth Explanation]

can police dogs smell vapes

In short, yes, absolutely. K9 dogs are specifically trained to sniff out various substances 40 to 60 times better than humans. So they easily sniff out vapes and vape juice. 

As reported in Wikipedia, their incredible sense of smell comes from their noses’ over 300 million scent receptors. (We only have 5 million as humans). When a dog inhales, airflow bifurcates into the lungs for respiration and the large olfactory recesses for smelling. This large, dedicated smelling area provides dogs with an exceptional ability to detect odors. 

When it comes to vapes, dogs can smell the base components of the vape pen itself, including metals, plastics, and electronics. But their main target is vape juice or e-liquid. This liquid contains flavorings, vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, and often nicotine as solvents. And dogs can pick up on all of these scents

You might ask how that is possible. Well, a recent 2021 study published by the Animal Cognition journal has shown dogs can pick up flavors of chemicals even at a concentration as low as 0.0001%. That high sensitivity means even the faintest vapor trails of nicotine on your clothes, bag, or hands could trigger a detection. 

Therefore, while vapes aren’t as aromatic as marijuana, a well-trained k9 dog’s nose poses a risk for you if you’re vape sneaking. 

What Vape Objects Can K9 Dogs Smell?  


Any vaping device and its juice or botanical contents can be identified by police K9s. Here’s a breakdown so you understand better:

A. Vape Pens and E-Cigarettes

The core vaping device itself has detectable odors. According to 3dk9detection.com, dogs pick up scents from the device’s metals, plastics, solder, electronics, and batteries. Vape pens and e-cigs contain all these components, making them smellable to K9s.

B. Vape Juice and E-Liquid

The vape juice or e-liquid provides the most abundant smells for dogs to identify. Oils, flavorings, vegetable glycerin, nicotine, and other ingredients all emit volatile odor molecules the dog can latch onto. Even residue of vape juice on your hands or clothes could trigger detection. 

C. Dry Herb and Wax Vaporizers 

Vapes designed for marijuana, wax, and other botanical materials have a strong odor from the dried plant matter and extracts. These pungent natural scents make identifying these vapes easy for trained dogs.

D. Disposables and Cartridges

As single-use products, disposable vapes, and cartridges contain concentrated amounts of vape juice. So, a concealed disposable vape pen or nicotine cartridge likely represents an easy find for a K9 dog.

E. THC Carts and Synthetics

THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) oil cartridges have pronounced terpene and cannabinoid odors from cannabis extracts. 

Synthetic cannabinoids and other lab-derived substances also produce distinctive scents dogs can hone in on.

According to Secretnaturecbd, these black market items are perfect targets for detection teams.

How Effective Are K9 Dogs at Smelling Vapes? 

can k9 dogs smell vapes

When it comes to vape detection, testing data, and real-world results prove K9 teams are extremely effective thanks to their scent ability and rigorous training. Specific statistics on effectiveness include:

  • As already mentioned, a published study shows dogs can detect trace amounts as low as 0.0001% of flavors. This sensitivity is on par with analytical chemistry instruments.
  • TSA data indicates that 83% of dogs graduated from training among all that are trained for substance detection. That’s an awe-inspiring graduation rate, thanks to the natural capabilities of k9 dogs. 

The proof shows that a trained K9 dog is extremely likely to effectively sniff out vapes when odor molecules reach their highly sensitive noses. 

What Are The Ways To Hide Vapes From K9 Dogs? [Experts Hacks]

What Are The Ways To Hide Vapes From K9 Dogs

Avoiding detection by K9 units is extremely difficult, given dogs’ scenting capabilities. However, I’ve discovered some potential methods from Petkeener. These may help you conceal vapes:

Note: None of the below tips are actually tested in the field. So, try at your own diligence

1. Airtight Containers

An airtight container like a glass jar or resealable bag can temporarily contain odors. But opening it in the dog’s presence or residue on the outside could still allow detection.

2. Vapor-Tight Bags

Special bag materials like carbon-lined mylar can sometimes absorb and block odor molecules from escaping. This might conceal a vape’s scent until the bag is opened.

3. Odor Masking 

Strong scents like pepper or dryer sheets may help cover up vape odors. But trained dogs can often smell past masking agents.

4. Electronic Storage

Storing a vape device in an electronic lockbox or even a freezer can help contain scents. But retrieving and opening still carries risk.

5. Remote Storage

Keeping vapes physically distant from your location avoids having the odor nearby. But this isn’t practical for personal everyday use. 

What Are The Legal Implications Of K9 Dogs Smelling Vapes In Me?

K9 inspection discovery of your vape has the potential to result in legal liabilities beyond just confiscation of your device. It can lead to many legal problems depending on your circumstances:

1. Under 18: Illegal Possession

As reported by Pumphreylawfirm, it is illegal for minors to possess vapes in all U.S. states. Penalties typically include fines, community service, tobacco education classes, and potential misdemeanor charges.

2. Airports: Security Issues

Uponarriving.com reports if stopped at an airport security checkpoint, it can lead you to detention, arrest, fines, or charges.  

3. Schools & Public Buildings: Policy Violations

Many institutions ban vape possession on-premises. So, for you, detection can mean school disciplinary action or trespassing violations with associated penalties (as demonstrated by Hudsonvillepublicschools).

4. THC Carts & Synthetics – Drug Charges

Illicit THC oil cartridges or synthetic vaporizer substances often bring felony controlled substance charges. They invoke penalties just like other forms of marijuana or illegal drugs. 

5. Traffic Stops: Probable Cause

A K9 vape detection can establish probable cause for further unwarranted search and seizure when you get stopped in a vehicle. Any other illegal items uncovered can be used to file charges against you.

Final Verdict 

In essence, K9 police dogs absolutely can and do smell vapes thanks to their 300 million scent receptors and special training. They are able to detect even the tiniest traces of vape juice ingredients with 90%+ accuracy. 

Really, only methods like remote storage or sealed electronic cases have the potential to evade detection by a dedicated vape K9 unit. 

However, getting caught by one of these talented dogs, unfortunately, can be damaging for you.

Ultimately, the safest bet for you is to be aware of and abide by all the laws as best possible instead of trying to sneak around them.