scent-detection golden retriever
Service dogs provide all sorts of assistance, from guidance for the visually impaired to comfort for the emotionally labile. But one scent-detection Golden Retriever serves a unique niche in the service dog sector by detecting peanuts for a girl with a severe allergy.

Scent-Detection Golden Retriever Trained to Recognize Dangerous Allergen

The clever canine, named Harley, was only 3 months old when Natalie Rice, mother of a teen daughter with a longtime peanut allergy, found her through a trainer. Rice’s daughter was being bullied for her allergy, and Rice thought an allergen-detection dog might help ease the alienation.

The Golden Retriever puppy seemed like the ideal candidate for a detection dog because of her eagerness to learn, so she underwent a year of training to learn to detect peanuts.

Harley was initially schooled in detecting the allergen by scent and alerting a human when she did so. According to People, dogs have as many as 100 million scent receptions in their noses, making them the perfect candidates to detect allergens. Furthermore, the American Kennel Club states that dogs can sniff out specific ingredients in foods. While humans might simply recognize the scent of a chocolate chip cookie, canines can pick up on the smells of flour, eggs, chocolate chips, and more ingredients. They can also learn to recognize cross-contamination, so even if nuts are not an ingredient, but the food in question has come in contact with them, pups can recognize that and protect humans from life-threatening allergic reactions.

After training her scent receptors to recognize peanuts, Harley then learned the obedience necessary to be a detection dog in a variety of settings.

In 2019, Harley came home to Rice and her 14-year-old daughter in California. She’s protected the teen from anaphylaxis by sniffing out traces of peanuts ever since.

“Before Harley, we were always wondering if food was safe or if people were taking food allergies seriously,” Natalie told SWNS. “My daughter missed out on so much because we weren’t sure if things were safe to eat — being able to do things outside of our home was very difficult.”

Now, Harley is tasked with inspecting all takeout and restaurant meals, new foods, and edibles with vague labeling.

“She has an added layer of protection and the confidence to eat out,” Rice said of Harley’s effect on her daughter.

Dog Educates People About Peanut Allergies

But Harley’s work doesn’t stop there. She’s also raising awareness about food allergies and cross-contamination dangers through social media. Online, the pup is known as Detective Harley, F.A.D.D. (Food Allergy Detection Dog).

Harley even has a website,, that informs people about food allergies and empowers children afflicted with them.

“Food allergies are not a choice, and they are not a joke,” Rice told SWNS. “While the world will never be free of food allergens, education and understanding are key to making the world a safer place.”

Rice continues training Harley in peanut detection, but eventually, the hardworking fur baby will retire. For now, Harley takes breaks from detection work with the household’s other Golden Retriever, Joey, a dog described as “a big, cuddly teddy bear.”

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