When we think of truffle hunting, pigs are usually what comes to mind.

But did you know that in Australia we use dogs?

And the use of ‘truffle dogs’ is becoming increasingly common around the world for truffle hunting, for a number of reasons:

• They are easier to train
• They have more stamina than pigs
• They are less likely to eat the truffles they find (and we think this one’s pretty important, don’t you?!)

So why do we need help from animals to find truffles in the first place?

Well for starters, truffles grow underground on tree roots, so a superior sense of smell is essential in sniffing out the truffle’s location. Once the location has been pinpointed by the dog, the grower can then gently dig them up from the earth.

If you think about it, truffle hunting is pretty much a real-life treasure hunt (minus the X marks the spot!). You are searching for something that grows underground and is potentially worth thousands of dollars. It’s a pretty important role!

What sort of dogs are good at ‘truffle hunting’?

When you are looking for edible gold, you want to be sure you are using the right breed of dog.

Lagotto Romagnolo originates from Italy and, although their traditional role is as a gun dog, they are the canine of choice in their native country for hunting truffles.

Springer Spaniels are adaptable to different surroundings and Beagles, with their 220 million scent receptors, are also great breeds for truffle hunting.

Of course, other breeds should not be discounted as many can be trained to sniff out the goods.

How do they know what they’re looking for?

The dogs are carefully trained by being introduced to the scent of truffle, followed immediately by a treat. This creates an association of ‘treat’ when they smell ‘truffle’, creating the perfect incentive!

Have you ever been on a truffle hunt?

If you want to join in the fun of truffle hunting, there are some farms that organise hunts and tours through the winter season. And if you think your dog is up to the challenge, there are training courses available throughout the country.

Or you can make it easy on yourself and just come along to our Truffle Celebration Day event on Sunday, 8 July and get your hands on the best black truffles you’ll ever taste!

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