Record-Breaking Medical Detection Dogs

Jackie (with shoulder length blonde hair wearing a blue top smiling) holding Logan a chocolate labrador in her arms looking directly at the camera in a grassy field

If you’ve been reading Lorna Cowan’s feature about Medical Detection Dogs puppy socialiser Jackie Ferneyhough in this week’s issue, you’ll know how much love and care goes into the preparation of an aspiring trainee for the important role of Medical Detection Dog.

Dogs like Logan, Jackie’s current foster-pup are being given the best possible start in life for their future as members of a talented team, trained to detect the smell of human diseases and save lives.

The latest news from the charity should inspire little Logan even more. The Medical Detection Dogs have become record breakers! Here’s what they said.

Record Breakers

In February 2022, the team achieved their first record — most medical conditions detected by dogs (organisation) . Since the charity was founded in 2008, dogs have been trained to detect a total of 28 diseases.

The list of medical conditions includes severe allergies, postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS), Type 1 diabetes, malaria and Addison’s disease.

That record, earning a spot in the Guinness World Records 2023 book, was only the beginning.

Another Test

In November 2022, the charity attempted to set a second Bio Detection record – most consecutive medical samples identified by dogs. Five dogs had to pinpoint the presence of different medical conditions, sniffing out their designated diseases from several samples, such as urine, saliva or breath.

The five diseases were Parkinson’s disease, prostate cancer, Pseudomonas infection, (PoTS) and COVID-19.

They did it!

The five record-breaking dogs, Bumper, Jodie, Jude, Florin and Lexi along with two trainers, Mark Somerville and Olivia James, teamed up to officially set the record by correctly identifying 24 samples in a row.

Not only did the team have to adapt to a different working method from their normal sessions, but each dog also had to pass by four other diseases before indicating that they’d found their own.

Provided by Medical Detection Dogs.

So Proud

The team at Medical Detection Dogs are delighted.

Sophie Aziz, MDD Head of Research, says: “We’re really proud of what we achieved, it’s a fantastic record. We already know our dogs are superstars and that they can find these diseases – and usually amongst very complicated samples that will smell very similar to the positive samples we lay out for them.”

MDD Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Claire Guest, says: “Medical Detection Dogs is so proud to have achieved this. Not only does it show the ability of our dogs – that we always knew – but it also shows how reliably they can detect these diseases, even in such an unusual situation. I think the thing the dogs were most pleased about is that they got their biscuits and other rewards!”

Trainer, Olivia James, said: “I love the dogs and they love their job, so I knew they’d make us proud.”


And what did the Guinness World Records team think?

Adam Millward, Managing Editor of Guinness World Records, said: “Having grown up with dogs who always managed to track down what seemed to be very well secreted snacks, I’ve long been aware of their superlative sense of smell. But after spending the day at Medical Detection Dogs and seeing their incredible Bio Detection dogs in action, I’ve got a whole new respect for canine olfaction. I was blown away not just by their accuracy and the huge potential this research could have for the future of disease diagnosis, but also by how much fun they were clearly having with their trainers while carrying out this potentially lifesaving work. Huge congratulations to the super-hounds and the MDD team – I suspect this may not be the last record they sniff out!”

You can find out more about the charity together with the fantastic five and their record-breaking attempt in this video.

Who’s Who?

Inside or outside work, the team are full of fun!






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Cover of The People's Friend issue January 21st depicting illustration of Bewdley

Copyright of DC Thomson.

You’ll find more about the Medical Detection Dogs in the recent issue of the “Friend”. Available online or from most major supermarkets and newsagents. Or, to make sure you never miss out, you can subscribe to get every issue delivered straight to your door each week.

Read about another amazing hero pet, Simba the Firefighting dog!

Marion McGivern

As editor of the cookery, money, pets and eco pages, Marion covers a wide range of regular Features content. Along with the rest of the Team, she enjoys finding interesting features for both the weekly and Special issues that readers will love. Having so much variety every day means that over ten years with the “Friend” has just flown by!