The Real Reason Farmers Switched From Pigs To Dogs To Hunt Truffles

As many foodies know, truffles certainly don't come cheap. According to Truffle.Farm, the price per pound of truffles can be anywhere from just under $40 for the Chinese black truffle to over $1,500 for the coveted Italian white truffle. Given the expensive nature of this particular ingredient, it makes sense that individuals would want to be extra cautious when harvesting, to ensure nothing is lost or wasted. However, as many truffle lovers will know, it actually isn't humans that do the hard work of figuring out where to find these tasty morsels underground; truffles are located through the trained help of select four-legged friends.

Traditionally, it was pigs who were responsible for finding where the truffles are located in a particular area (via Modern Farmer). Lately, though, there's been a new animal on the truffle-hunting front: dogs. There are a few reasons that these four-legged creatures are even more ideal for truffle-hunting than the traditional pigs.

First of all, dogs are easier to train than pigs. They also have more endurance, making them perfect for longer truffle hunting sessions. The one downside is that, unlike pigs, who will naturally be on the hunt for truffles, dogs do need training to be able to detect them. However, while pigs are also naturally inclined to munch their way through some of their findings, dogs aren't as likely to sample the wares they've discovered.

What breeds of dogs make good truffle hunters?

If you're trying to bring in a canine companion to help you with truffle hunting, the most important thing is the training. Truffles have a certain odor that is released when they're ripe and ready to be harvested, and any dog could theoretically be trained to pick up on that odor and know that there's a truffle available just underground (via Bone and Yarn). This also means that they won't be digging up truffles before they're ripe and therefore wasting them. However, there are a few breeds that are particularly well-suited for truffle-hunting adventures.

Lagotto Romagnolos are one of the first dogs that those in the business associate with truffle-hunting, and in fact Italy has deemed them the official truffle hunting dog (via Rover). They used to earn their keep as waterfowl retrievers, but their sharp sense of smell and thick coat that cushions them from any thorns or branches means they're perfect for truffle hunting. Other well-suited dog breeds include poodles, who have similar protective coats as Lagotto Romagnolos, and beagles, whose muzzles have 220 million scent receptors. Other sharp-scented hunting dogs include springer spaniels and Belgian malinois (via Wag Walking).

Regardless of breed, there is one additional benefit to truffle hunting with a dog: discretion (via Modern Farmer). For any truffle hunters trying to avoid alerting the competition, walking around the woods with a dog won't trigger attention the way a porcine companion might.