Every truffle hunter needs his partner to help searching for truffles in the forest, so who is this important partner? A truffle hog or a truffle dog? Actually, both of them have the ability to do the job.
Truffle Hogs are Smart
First about the hog, also known as pig. These kinds of animals have small eyes, chubby bodies and looks foolish, but in fact they are not like this. An American study shows the intelligence of pigs is not less than dogs, the researches tested the learning abilities of different animals and the result shows the learning ability of pigs is even close to primates – chimpanzees. Moreover, pigs have a strong sense of smell, French truffle hunters used to bring along truffle hogs for for truffle searching. Even truffles are somewhere with 5-40cm deep in the soil, truffle hogs can still sniff through it, this inborn talent helps hunters a lot in searching.
However, pigs love to eat, they search by innate and eat truffles by innate as well. If the hunter could not stop the helper on time, the whole piece of truffle will enter its stomach without hesitation. Another research indicates that truffles can attract female pigs, as the musklike scent has similar components to a kind of sex hormone of pigs, therefore, female pigs hunt truffles naturally. Even though pigs are smart and have a strong sense of smell, it is slower, less flexible and less active than dogs. Nowadays, truffle hogs could only be found in certain places in France whenever there are requests from journalists or tourists.
Truffle Dogs are Playful
About dogs, they are fast and also have extraordinary sense of smell. However, hunting truffles is not their inborn talent. There is no strict rule about the species for choosing a truffle dog, hunters usually select those are active, playful and obedient for training. The training process is like a game, hunters will hide a toy with truffle scent and let the dogs to search for it. The dogs will get some food as reward when they find the object. Day by day, hunters and dogs will build up good communication and confidence, dogs can learn how to search for truffles by its sense from the gameplay. Most hunters nowadays need assistance from dogs for searching truffles.
Weaknesses of Truffle Dogs
Truffle dogs treat training and searching as games. If they are not interested, they may ignore commands from hunters. Some of them may continue after the motivation and encouragement by the hunters, but some may be distracted by other things and lost the interest in the search. We have interviewed a Croatian truffle hunter, he said he needs at least one year to find some potential dogs from the training dogs. He will then bring the a more experienced dog and a potential dog to undergo a field training in the forest. There are many things could distract a dog in the nature, therefore hunters could identify those are more concentrate with this training. In general, dogs will not eat truffles, yet, their fast claws could damage the valuable truffles easily if the hunters did not stop it on time. Claw marks will affect the selling price of a truffle.
Hogs use inborn ability to search for truffle, while dogs treats searching like a game. Both animals have the ability to do the work. Truffle hunters can never go searching without his partners, with their joint effort, we could enjoy the deluxe truffles in Hong Kong.