Contraband - NZ Customs


Detector dogs get the spotlight

Featured in the popular TV programme DOG SQUAD NZ are six handler and detector dog teams namely (from left to right in the photo) Brad Maxwell and Waldo, Chad Golding and India, Paul Ferguson and Zulu, Brendan Kircher and Roxy, Matt Thorne and Lobo, and Andew Bond and Rajax.

Detector dogs get the spotlight

Customs’ detector dogs grabbed the spotlight anew as the popular TV series DOG SQUAD NZ returned to the TV screens last 21 April.

The programme, which is now on its sixth series, showcases how Customs’ detector dogs and their handlers are successfully stopping attempts to smuggle illegal drugs across the border. The new series also shows the trained dogs detecting large volumes of undeclared cash.

The show also features dog teams from the NZ Police, Corrections, the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Department of Conservation.

Since their introduction in 1973, the detector dog unit has played a vital role in Customs’ work. The dogs are highly skilled and have excellent detection abilities, helping Customs intercept illegal substances before they can do harm in the community.

In 2014, the detector dogs had 240 drug interceptions, up from 186 the previous year. They also logged 91 cash interceptions last year amounting to NZ $2.9 million. This was an increase from the previous year when they had 52 cash intercepts amounting to a total of NZ$1.76 million. 

Detector dogs, which are purebred Labradors, are recruited for their attitude, temperament, and strong but not aggressive retrieval instincts. They work mostly at international airports throughout the country and at the International Mail Centre. They also regularly search ships small craft and cargo.

The dogs have weekly refresher training sessions to ensure that they remain on top of their game. Training is conducted at various locations where Customs work takes place including locations simulating search warrant activity.


The detector dogs are featured in Customs' Instagram account. Follow them at @nzcustomsservice.