Imagine sitting in a restaurant watching the meals being served to guest tables. Your attention is drawn to a unique smell which turns out to be a delicacy is known as Black Winter Truffle.
This earthy morsel has distinctive flavour and is found in the shallow earth by dogs. Yes, truffle dogs.
In the past, pigs were used to find truffles due to the similar testosterone compounds found in pigs. However, due to the pigs' erratic digging method, they damage the environment and the fragile fungal structures in the soil. To make matters worse, hogs love to eat the truffles once they've found them. Dogs, on the other hand, can be trained to locate the truffles and not eat or destroy produce.
Dogs have been introduced and have replaced mainly pigs in the hunt for truffles. Training a dog can take between four weeks to three months. Certain breed’s and characteristic’s need to be considered, as not all dogs will make the cut to be a perfect truffle dog. Dogs are trained to use their heightened sense of smell to rustle around the soil and find the truffle's exact location.
Breeds such as Labradors, Weimaraner’s, Beagles, German Shorthaired Pointers, Field Spaniels and Welsh Springer Spaniels tend be a good choice. For instance, Labradors are intelligent and highly motivated by food, which makes the training and rewarding process easy. Field Spaniels are typically docile and laid-back, so they make great truffle dog companions as well.
The dogs “mark” the area where they smell the subterranean prize by gently scratching the ground during the process. Once they find the truffle, the dog is rewarded, and the truffle is picked up by hand.