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Since 1975, the Customs and Excise Department has introduced detector dogs to assist in passenger and cargo clearance duties for combating drug trafficking. Today, the Department has developed a professional canine force comprising more than 100 officers with dedicated units responsible for operations, tactical training and puppies development. The detector dog teams of Operations Units are deployed to the airport, land boundary control points and container terminals for the detection of narcotics, explosives and cash. To enhance enforcement efficiency and sustainable development for the growing challenges at the forefront, the Customs Detector Dog Division was upgraded to the Customs Canine Force in June 2020.

Types of Detector Dogs

By nature of job duties, Customs Detector Dogs are classified into three categories namely, Drug Detector Dogs, Explosive Detector Dogs and Cash Detector dogs. In the early development stage, dog handlers and detector dogs mainly performed anti-narcotics duty. After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the Department started the training of explosive detector dogs for enforcement actions on counter-terrorism activities. In addition, upon the implementation of Cross-boundary Movement of Physical Currency and Bearer Negotiable Instruments Ordinance on 16th July 2018, the Department first introduced cash detector dogs for detecting a large quantity of cash at entry / exit points.

All the three types of detector dogs mentioned above are responsible for screening travellers, personal baggage, cargoes and cross-boundary conveyances at Customs control points. They will sit still in front of the object when they detect suspicious scent or discover any findings.


Professional training

The Department attaches great importance to the quality and performance of detector dogs. Dog handlers and detector dogs have to undergo a 10-week intensive training programme for the development of bonding and the enhancement of enforcement capabilities. In Jan 2021, the Customs Canine Force successfully attained accreditation for its Drugs Detector Dog Handling Training Programme, which makes the department the first laws enforcement agency in Hong Kong to own such qualification in dog handling area. The training is pitched at QF Level 4, the same QF level as a local Associate Degree or a Higher Diploma. The accreditation recognizes Customs’ edge in having a quality training mechanism to develop professional dog handlers which can further enhance professional management of canine force in the long run.

To upkeep the expertise of dog handlers in various spheres, the Department adopts multi-pronged approach by collaboration with various academia, professional institutions and law enforcement agencies in order to equip our officers with related professional trainings for working in different scenarios.

Dogs originated from the Mainland and overseas, have already received basic training from their respective training institutes. Upon arrival, the Department will also provide adaptation training and assessments to the detector dogs before they start working at the forefront.

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Customs Detector Dogs