If you've ever watched a search and rescue dog'
you've seen a dog breed maximizing its natural instinct to help man. Whether
they are diving in water, climbing ladders or intently following a smell, search
and rescue dogs have amazing natural abilities and instincts.
Search and rescue (or SAR dogs) can be found as:
It takes a great deal of natural instinct, agility
and most importantly temperament to be a search and rescue dog. Not all breeds
are right for the job, many are too small or don't have the right attitude.
Search and rescue dogs have to be use to lots of external input (i.e. noises,
activity) while they are working, be adaptable to different environments and
have a strong sense of smell. Breeds such as Labrador
Australian Shepherds, Newfoundlands
and many mixed breeds naturally make great search and rescue dogs. It's also
worth noting that many dogs that fall within the AKC's sporting dog (link to
sporting dog book mark on Dog Groups article) and working dog groups make great
SARS dogs. Other breeds such as Schnauzers,
Collies, Golden Retrievers
and Rottweilers are
also excellent for this type of work.
Tracking dogs use their naturally strong sense of smell and follow the trail
or scent of a person on the ground. Typically, they work quickly; smelling an
object of a missing person (shoe, shirt, etc); finding the trail, and tracking
the person giving both negative and positive signs. Tracking dogs must be distinguished
Air Scent Tracking
Air scent dogs track odors in the air versus ground and are better
suited for open parks and fields for tracking lost humans. Air scent dogs don't
necessarily need a trail to follow a scent and are invaluable for work areas
that are older, have been tampered with or have had a lot of other activity.
Another type of tracking dog are Avalanche dogs. These dogs search for people
who are trapped under the snow and can someone under as much as 15 feet of snow.
Many people visualize the loyal St. Bernard playing this role, but these days
many breeds including German Shepherds and Labradors also perform this much
The final search dog that relies heavily on its sense of smell are Cadaver dogs.
Also referred to as Human Remains Detection Dogs, these dogs are relied upon
to locate dead people by detecting scents rising from the ground. These dogs
are many times used for recovery after natural disasters like hurricanes or
earthquakes. While it's not the most glamorous job, these dogs often bring closure
to families by being able to properly bury their loved ones.
Water Search dogs
Water Search Dogs are another form of search and rescue dog that search for
drowning victims in the water. These dogs work along shores or in boats following
a scent as it rises to the surface of the water. The dog will slap and bite
at the water once it's found the trail. Breeds that are naturally comfortable
and enjoy water such as Retrievers and Newfoundlands usually fill this role.
While some SARS dogs may be dedicated to their
jobs on a daily basis, many SARS dogs live with search volunteers and spend
a lot of their days as a family dog, working only when duty calls. Regardless,
these dogs have become more skilled and valuable to society over the years and
there's no doubting the vast natural ability these dogs enjoy.