Dogs that serve man

Royal Canin - Dog rescue

The dog hero

Ever since dogs were domesticated, they have been helping humans in many areas of work, from hunting to guarding, herding and much more.

The avalanche dog

Avalanche search is one of the emergency disciplines that makes use of the dog's exceptional sense of smell, athleticism and speed. The dogs work alongside probers and diggers. 

Why are dogs so useful in this discipline? The time factor is essential in mountain emergency rescue- the more quickly the avalanche is explored, the more likely the workers are to find buried individuals alive. Twenty ski patrolmen take twenty hours to cover an area of 1 hectare; the dog can perform the task in just 2 hours for the same thorough result.

The tracking dog

Tracking consists in searching for individuals or objects following scent trails. The scent pattern the dog follows is made up of a number of factors: specific smells (specific to an individual, a group, a species), chemical smells (leather, fat, clothes), environmental factors in the field (trampled plants, bacteria that have surfaced because of breaks in the earth), habitats (wood, meadow, alfafa, crop...), weather conditions. Tracking is very complex and not all dogs are suited to it, even with specific training. Therefore young dogs with natural capabilities are selected and trained. The animals selected must have highly developed sniffing abilities; a great concentration ability (so as not be distracted by other smells in the environment); dynamism, stamina, hardiness and they must not be gun-shy. 

The search dog

Search is a discipline involves finding lost people; it is considered as part of the tracking category. However, it is slightly different: the dog is not shown a reference object, or a potential departure area. The dog is simply let go, without any harness or leash, to seek a particular smell in a defined area, as in avalanche or rubble searching.

The sea rescue dog

The Newfoundland is the favorite breed for sea and water rescue. This breed has many qualities important in sea and water rescue:

  • strength: he can tow several people or a boat of several tons;
  • endurance: he can swim for several hours and over long distances;
  • resistance to cold, he is able to enter the water immediately with no specialised equipment, unlike a diver who needs several minutes to prepare;
  • the dogs are calm in any circumstances, which provides reassurance to victims;
  • their tenacity means they will never abandon a mission ;

Puppies acquired with a view to this discipline are selected for their powerful muscular build and strong skeletal structure; there is systematic screening of potential sires for hip dysplasia.

The rubble search dog

The rubble search dog’s role is not limited to major earthquakes. They are also used in landslides, building collapses, after fires, mine collapses, railway or airplane disasters... Unfortunately, there are many occasions.

In Great Britain, during the Second World War bombings, dogs were used for the first time to find people buried under the rubble. As early as 1954, search dog training centers were set up in the United States, Germany and Switzerland. The Swiss dogs were the first to become famous after the 1976 earthquake in Frioul, Italy. 12 dogs working found 42 survivors and 510 corpses.

Since then, every disaster of this type, especially that of September 11, 2001, gives media coverage to the courage and tenacity of these rescue teams.

Any effective working partnership between a dog and a human must stem from a very close relationship between the two. The handler must know the dog well and be able to "read" the way he works through the site. The dog must have great trust in his handler, so that he will go with him everywhere, whatever the dangers appear to be. Such a partnership requires lengthy preparation. The dogs used for rubble search must have a good sense of smell, and a calm, well-balanced disposition with plenty of energy. They must be sociable towards human beings as well as towards their fellow dogs, as there are often several of them in the same rubble areas. Enjoying play is also essential for learning. The most used breeds are shepherd dog breeds, especially German and Belgian shepherd dogs.


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