May 5, 2017 by: Andy & Chris Moreno

The Amazing Capabilities of Search and Rescue Dogs

The Amazing Capabilities of Search and Rescue Dogs

This blog was written by Sally Perkins. Thank you, Sally.


The Amazing Capabilities of Search and Rescue Dogs

As any dog owner can tell you, dogs are amazing creatures that provide affection, companionship, and love. There are also some dogs that go above and beyond as man’s best friend, by providing invaluable search and rescue services to individuals in peril. From finding lost hikers in the Blue Ridge Mountains to saving people during major disasters, we will discuss some of the amazing capabilities of search and rescue dogs.

What Is Expected of Search and Rescue Dogs?

The majority of search and rescue dogs are hunting, herding, or sporting dog breeds, such as German shepherds, golden retrievers, bloodhounds, Belgian Malinois, Labrador retrievers, and Newfoundlands. These breeds are preferred because they have impressive endurance, tracking and hearing abilities, mental stability, and strength.

According to the American Rescue Dog Association, the following traits are a must for search and rescue dogs:

·         High level of intelligence

·         Excellent scenting capability

·         High degree of trainability

·         Physical stamina and endurance

·         Strong drives (pack, play, prey, etc.)

What Do Search and Rescue Dogs Do?

It can take years of extensive training to become a certified search and rescue dog. Additionally, dogs may be trained in multiple rescue modalities because of the different rescue situations that call for different skills. Let’s look at a few of the more important search and rescue dog jobs.

Trailing dogs follow the “trail” of skin tissues, cells, or other particles left behind by a person on the move. A trailing dog will search with her nose to the ground since that is where these particles are usually found. Bloodhounds are ideal for this job. They sniff an article of the person’s clothing, go to where the person was last seen, and follow the scent trail.

Much like trailing dogs, tracking dogs can follow an individual’s path. Yet, even when there is no scent article available, tracking dogs are still put to use. If there is a criminal on the run, law enforcement officials will typically use a tracking dog.

Air scenting dogs are trained to pick up human scents in the air. They are able to detect where the smell is most concentrated. When people are lost over large areas of land, air-scenting dogs are generally put to use. Some dogs are even trained to be able to find human scents in collapsed structures, like after an earthquake, explosion, or tornado.


As you can see, these are special dogs that help make the Blue Ridge Mountains safer for all of us.


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