Truffle Dogs and Harvesting
It has only been in the last few years that well-trained truffle dogs have become available in New Zealand. Kings Truffles have a team of 4 truffle dogs all at different stages of their careers. All are trained by Jax Lee who has had guidance in the past from airport drug dog handlers, the New Zealand Police Force as well as other truffle dog handlers.
Freddy, a labrador/pointer cross, is Jax’s main truffle dog and had her first season in 2014 as a pup in training. After another truffle dog had to be put down she stepped up into the ‘top dog’ roll and hasn’t looked back since.
Freddy is joined by Moe, a spaniel, who is still in training but has abundance of drive and sniffing power that need to be fined tuned into finding truffles. There is also Snoop and Moose, bred with the intention of being truffle dogs they have already started their training that will continue into the 2016 harvest season. With Freddy successfully locating truffles and a growing team of dogs and handlers, dog services is something that Kings Truffles can offer for other growers, with growing confidence and success.
Truffles are harvested using specially trained dogs. Female pigs were originally used to indicate where individual truffles were by smelling them out, but today dogs are used as they are easier to control. Handlers carefully dig out the truffle, which can be as much as 30cm below the surface.