Turns out dogs are more than just a man's best friend, and they may be much smarter than most people realize. Studies are showing that they could actually save your life.

Dr. Hideto Sonoda said the latest research confirmed a "specific cancer scent does indeed exist and that cancer-specific chemical compounds may be circulating throughout the body".

The volunteers also included smokers and those with gut problems, such as ulcers, but this did not pose a problem for the dog.

It identified the samples from people with active cancers with 95 percent accuracy for the breath test, and 98 percent accuracy for the stool test, compared to what a doctor could see with a colonoscopy.

Sounds almost too good to be true, right? Well in a way it kind of is. The expense and time put into training the dogs makes it highly impractical.

Professor Ian Olver, from Cancer Council Australia, said a "mechanical equivalent" of the dog's cancer-attuned nose would represent a significant breakthrough.

"If you're going to apply this to a population you need to have something a little less high-maintenance (than a dog)," he said.

"But this does show us how clever animals can be and how they can give us the lead to do other things."

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