Stuart Phillips: his search for illegal tobacco and making whisky better with detection dogs


Sunday, August 29, 2021


08:00 PM Europe/Warsaw

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Mr Stuart Phillips

Having handled and trained working dogs for over twenty years, Stuart Phillips’ operational expertise is second to none. The tobacco detection dogs he has trained have been used all over the UK by Police, Customs and local government law enforcement officers to locate over 16 million pounds-worth of illegal tobacco products and cigarettes.

During his career, Stuart has worked with dogs of all types including explosive, drugs, firearms, cash, tobacco and mobile phone detection. For two years, he assisted UK Border Force in France, working and training live body detection dogs to locate illegal immigrants trying to cross the English Channel on ferries.

Stuart’s law enforcement career began when he joined the Police at 18. In 1999 he then started his dog handler career, training with Military Working Dogs (MWDs) at the British Army’s Defence Animal Centre. Stuart and his MWD Kiaser competed at the MOD Police & Guarding Agency national dog trials, before leaving to establish his company, B.W.Y Canine Ltd.

Stuart and two of his Explosive Detection Dogs (EDDs) Chester and Pip worked at the 2012 London Olympics, ensuring that Hyde


Stuart Phillips is a multi-award winning search dog handler, trainer and instructor. A former Ministry of Defence dog handler, Stuart now works with Police, Customs and other UK law enforcement agencies on illegal tobacco operations with his team of Spaniels. 

With over 20 years experience working with dogs it is only since working operationally with tobacco detection dogs that Stuart has realised there is a lot more to training detection dogs than he ever realised. Stuart now firmly believes that all disciplines of detection dog training should have a unique approach, there is not one method or approach for all disciplines of detection dogs. A phrase which Stuart uses on a regular basis is, training is training, training is not real. 

In a normal month Stuart will take part 18 operations and his dogs will carry out 90 searches helping law enforcement officers to locate tobacco, cash and weapons. Since 2012 dogs that Stuart has trained and worked have found over £12 million worth of illegal tobacco products and over £5 million in cash. Criminals trying to hide illegal tobacco use the most sophisticated methods of concealment that means they can only be found using specially trained tobacco detection dogs. Stuart and his dogs have become so successful at locating concealments of illegal tobacco that criminal gangs from around the UK have made Stuart and his detection dogs targets, with money offered for killing them. 

Over the past 12 months Stuart has led a special project in the UK, to train two Cocker Spaniels to identify defects with whisky barrels. Rocco and Bran are the first dogs to be used in the world for a detection role like this with a whisky maker. The project took over 8 months complete, due to the complexity of training and the need to train the dogs in contamination free environments. 

In this webinar Stuart will discuss the difference between training and operational work, reducing contamination during training and why an indication is not always important.