Our Story

1953 - 1965, Karen was born. 

In 1953, Karen, the Alsatian bitch whose name was adopted by the Company, was born. Her unparalleled qualities and effusive character combined to produce the second half of a partnership which would influence the fundamental procedures for dog training across every continent on Earth and it continues to do so to this day. The unique qualities consistently demonstrated by Karen in almost every aspect of dog work, more particularly in specialist research and development projects, quickly gained international recognition. Training commissions were received from every European country and from every Scandinavian country, where the Company quickly established a reputation for its efficiency and professional excellence.

As a result, the early 1960s was a period of intense activity when Karenswood (International) Ltd received many requests for technical advice and assistance from police and military establishments around the world and notably from the British Army War Dog Training School - now the Defence Animal Centre, and also from the British Royal Air Force. In 1961, the Company introduced Explosives and Narcotics Detector Dogs to the Police Forces of Great Britain.

Following research trials conducted by Karenswood (International) Ltd in 1964, the Company produced the world’s first ever Hydrocarbons Detector Dog (for use in fire investigation). Unfortunately, due to the lack of interest in Great Britain at the time, the project was taken overseas. It was in 1996 that Karenswood (International) Ltd gave Europe its first Hydrocarbons Detector Dog for use in Fire Investigation.

1965 - 1975 

The Company had consolidated its position as world leader in the commercial field for the provision of trained dogs and it continued to develop the range of specialist services it offered to Governments and Government Agencies.

Having successfully secured its home market, the European and Scandinavian Markets, the Company expanded into Africa and in 1970 Karenswood added the International affix to its trading title. This decade, like the one before it, was a period of intense activity with major research projects being undertaken for several international organisations, including establishing the use of dogs for Land Mines Detection.

Feasibility trials conducted by Karenswood (International) Ltd include, but are not limited to, the training of dogs for the following purposes:

  • Natural Gas Leak Locators;
  • Specific Mineral Detectors;
  • Tobacco and Alcohol Detectors;
  • The Use of Dogs to Detect Water Beneath the Sahara Desert.

1975 - 1985

The Company continued to broaden its horizons and by 1985 it was operating extensively in the Middle East, Asia and the Far East. During this period, Karenswood (International) Ltd established Police, Military and Customs Dog Training Schools for governments across the world and was often engaged on live time combat operations with the very same units which it helped to create.

Karenswood followed up on earlier research regarding Hydrocarbons Detector Dogs and conducted the world's first - Cable Oil Leak Locator Dog project, funded by the British Electricity Council, in 1982. 

Karenswood (International) Ltd has an on-going policy of business development across the world. 

Training courses offered to the Police, Customs and the Military at home in the United Kingdom and in countries overseas, emphasise the need for improved understanding. 


By 1985, the Company had become a veritable institution to which governments and world organisations turned for assistance and by the mid 1990s, Karenswood (International) Ltd would service the needs of over 80 countries.

Government Departments and Government Agencies, Universities, the Police, Customs, the Military, Industry and Commerce considering the use of specialist trained dogs may refer to Karenswood (International) Ltd for:

  • Advice - Supply - Support
  • Recruitment - Training
  • Management
  • Research and Development
  • Building Design
  • Planning and Construction

1995 - 2005

Throughout the 1990s and beyond, Karenswood (International) Ltd was heavily involved in Mines Detection Dog programmes throughout the world.

It was in 1999 that Karenswood (International) Ltd was elected to the Advisory Group of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian De-mining (GICHD). Whilst in post, Karenswood (International) Ltd originated the document that evolved to become the International Mines Action Standards, having particular reference to the use of Specialist Trained Dogs for mines detection. On behalf of the GICHD, the Company conducted reviews and mines surveys in many mine plagued countries across the world.

In 2003, the GICHD accepted the Karenswood (International) Ltd proposal that the GICHD should form a Committee to regulate world wide Mines Action Standards. As a result, Karenswood (International) Ltd hosted the first meeting of the GICHD Standards and Implementation Committee (SISC).

Despite an already successful decade relating to Mines Detection, 2005 saw Karenswood Mine Detector Dog teams commended for the outstanding quality of their work in the Lebanese theatre of operations.

2005 - 2015

In 2006 Karenswood (International) Ltd established the first Hydrocarbons Search Dog Unit for a notable Fire Service in the Far East. The fully trained dogs provided by Karenswood were so impressive that some of their finds attracted the attention of the media. “Dexter”, a yellow Labrador, was thought of so highly by his country that he was not only awarded the Animals Asia’s [sic] Dog Devotion Award for Outstanding Service, but he also had a ceremonial stamp made in celebration of his accomplishments.

The Far East Fire Service returned to Karenswood (International) Ltd for additional Hydrocarbons Detector Dogs and handler courses in 2012 and 2018. In 2016, the department also approached Karenswood to establish their Search & Rescue teams, including the compliment of fully trained dogs and the courses of instruction for their respective handlers.

The new decade started with some exciting news for the Company  -  it had been commissioned to provide a young German Shepherd Dog and a young Golden Retriever to join a Royal Household in the Middle East. In 2014 Karenswood (International) Ltd was appointed as the only dog related end user and evaluator of the D-BOX platform - a humanitarian de-mining project, funded by the European Union.

Whether through the supply of dogs, ancillary equipment or upgrading outdated training programmes, Karenswood (International) Ltd has been responsible for improving the operational capability of Specialist Dog Units across the world.


2015 - Present Day

Over the last seven decades, Karenswood (International) Ltd has worked in 82 countries across all continents (with the exception of Antarctica), established Dog Training Schools for the governments of 27 countries and has pioneered much of what is today common practice in dog work.

It is irrefutable that specialist training techniques and procedures originated by Karenswood have been adopted and are practiced by Police, Customs and Military Dog Units around the globe - in 2016, Karenswood (International) Ltd conducted a seminar to explain Canine Psychological Principles to various UK Police Forces and Her Majesty’s Prison Service dog sections.

The wide ranging aspects of its business, served by its enormous wealth of international experience, is the foundation of the organisation and it makes Karenswood a truly unique institution.



68 years of enlightenment

and still the story continues…..