National Geographic Society Newsroom

Dogs Can Sniff Out the Differences Between Identical Twins

  Who is who in this picture?  Maybe you can’t tell the difference but your canine friend, Rover, might be able to help you out.  According to recent study conducted by scientists in the Czech Republic, some dogs are able to distinguish between identical twins even when a DNA test cannot.  Dogs in the experiment...

Twins chow down at the Mule Skinner Saloon in Oxford; photo by Joel Sartore

 

Who is who in this picture?  Maybe you can’t tell the difference but your canine friend, Rover, might be able to help you out.  According to recent study conducted by scientists in the Czech Republic, some dogs are able to distinguish between identical twins even when a DNA test cannot.  Dogs in the experiment sniffed samples from sets of both identical and fraternal twins between the ages of 5 and 13 years old.  Samples from unrelated children were included as well.  In every trial, researchers found that the dogs could both match the twins’ scents and distinguish them from one another — indicating that even people with identical genes have their own unique scent.

Rover might need a little practice before performing this trick, however.  All the dogs used in the experiment were German Shepherds and highly trained.

The scientists have published the results of their study online in the journal PLos ONE.

For all the latest science news, check out our twice-weekly news rundown, Earth Current.

About National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of the world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 14,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content. To learn more, visit www.nationalgeographic.org or follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Meet the Author

Alyson Foster
Alyson Foster works in the National Geographic Library where she purchases books for the Library’s collection and assists NG staff with finding research materials.