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Discussion Starter #1
I've always wondered if smaller dogs would be better suited for SAR situations like in Haiti - where they could maneuver the rubble better and get into more places than a larger dog.

Are there small (as in Crested sized) SAR dogs?
 

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I have heard of small terriers like Jack Russells being used for SAR.

Here is an American Hairless Terrier SAR dog:
http://www.ahts.ca/scooby.htm

AHTs are a hairless version of the Rat Terrier. I was interested in doing SAR or detection work with my Rat Terrier... He was very agile and good at scenting but then he was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. I can see how they would be good for this type of work due to their agility and balance.
 

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I would be worried about a hairless dog- they don't have the protection that a coated dog has and I'd be concerned about the dog getting scraped up, especially in urban rescue.

But then again I am NOT a SAR person but it makes sense to me.
 

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My 11 inch, 18 lb beagle has been taking tracking lessons for months, and is a natural. She is (most likely) starting too late for SAR. But she has a killer work ethic and worked multiple surfaces her first time out.

Beagles have that nose after all...


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHVoE_V0G4o

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xhHZS2X4tc

(Someone -- I think it was Nancy -- posted for me additional links to videos of a woman in San Diego who has been doing SAR with beagles for years.)

Eleven inch beagles would a great choice because they're small and don't weigh much, but still sturdy like their bigger 13 inch counterparts. Even appropriately sized 13" beagles shouldn't weigh more than about 25 lbs.
 

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I have struggled with that one myself. I can see pros and cons to working a small RUGGED dog....
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Nancy - what would be the cons?

I see lots of Pros:

Easy to transport
Able to maneuver in small places
Totally NOT intimidating to those being rescued
More agile
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Originally Posted By: 3K9MomMy 11 inch, 18 lb beagle has been taking tracking lessons for months, and is a natural.
I'm thinking more about the types of situations like in Haiti - where there is tons of rubble for dogs to move around in.

A small dog would have the advantage of being able to fit in smaller places - to get further into the rubble than a large dog.
 

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The challenge to me would be the temperament of many of the small dogs, particularly terriers and dog aggression, as well as proclivity towards going for vermin. Also you now have a coat to strip because trimming makes it soft. For beagles - I don't want to mess with a food driven dog, which is what most of them are. That hairless thing........well...........I don't think so. If it IS a terrier, AND it is bred for hunting, well terriers have the "kill vermin" embedded in their genetics.....

For size - I guess a small terrier could navigate 80-160 acres fine and get over and under obstacles. I can't really address for climbing all over rubble but figure many of the terriers were worked in rugged rocky terrain...........For usefullnes of the dogs running around under rubble piles - I just can't answer because I don't do disaster

I think it would be a matter of saying is it "worth it" to adjust training methods to suit these dogs vs. using tried and true methods wtih tried and true breeds of dogs?

Most [not all] folks really serious about doing SAR work don't have a lot of time to waste trying to make something work for a dog..............if it isn't going to work, you wash it and get another one........
 

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I don't train on rubble piles, but I'm not so sure that a small dog getting further into the rubble would be an advantage. Disaster dogs are trained to locate where human scent is coming out from a pile and then they stay there and bark to alert the handler. If a small dog were to make its way closer to the source of the scent underneath the rubble, its barks may not be heard. And if it gets trapped underneath the rubble it may be impossible to get it out.
 

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SAR is not that much about the scent ability of the dog as many people think. Almost all dogs, with the exception of, maybe, sight hounds, have a super developed scent ability compared to any human, you really don't need to pick a breed for SAR because of its nose. I'm always asked why more hunting breeds are not used in SAR and the reasons has much to do with why smaller breeds are not more used in SAR.

The problem with smaller dogs is most of them are hunting breeds, and many of them are terriers, but most of those dogs, like terriers and beagles, were developed to work on their own. They follow the scent while the hunter is behind on horseback or kill the vermin without any help of their human. They hunt on their own , but they do not collaborate. They don't really have what you'd call a "handler".

In SAR you need the nose of the dog, but you need one willing to be a partner with the searcher, one willing to be leaded without losing drive, but you, as a handler, can guide and trust that will follow omands, won't get lost and will search where YOU want to be searched. Here is where most shepherds and retrievers come in action.

Yes, there are many advantages of smaller dogs, but the temperament factor is usually bigger. Many handlers look for smaller dogs between proved breeds or groups of breeds, like Border collies, ACDs, Malinois, field retrievers and spaniels, etc.

Other small breeds are lap dogs and their health may be a problem for SAR dog, like skin and respiratory problems. Also consider that the smaller the dog the quicker they dehydrate in the heat and the quicker they freeze in the cold. A dog that covers a meter in 5 jumps will tire faster than a dog that cover the same distance in one leap and in rubble work you need them to be able to go in confinated spaces, but also to jump over a collapsed roof, get to a second story through a broken stair, etc.
 

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I saw on a tv show, "Dogs with jobs" I think, a lady had a Dachshund as a SAR dog. She was on a team somewhere. I can't remember where.
I just can't imagine having a dog with a stride that short covering ground on a wilderness search.
 

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In SAR you need the nose of the dog, but you need one willing to be a partner with the searcher, one willing to be leaded without losing drive, but you, as a handler, can guide and trust that will follow omands, won't get lost and will search where YOU want to be searched. Here is where most shepherds and retrievers come in action.
The main thing is DRIVE. We in law enforcement and military use retrieve/hunt drive. Nothing to do with being a partner,it has to do with the dog have insatiable drive for the reward and be willing to work nonstop for it. It is the training method. I also use a lot of english springer spaniels and cockers from the UK for bomb work as do a large portion of the europeans and canadians. They are high drive, small,agile and have amazing scenting ability. Smaller breeds do not dehydrate easier. I work dogs here on check points and in ships in 100 degrees and 100% humidity. My little spaniels and cockers have no problem. A smaller dog negotiates rubble much easier,regardless of breed. We find them more useful in narc and bomb searches as well because they search vehicles,trucks and ships easier. I work all breeds and all things being equal,it is hard to be a little lab,spaniel or mal for tight spaces. Just a fact


Quote: Other small breeds are lap dogs and their health may be a problem for SAR dog, like skin and respiratory problems. Also consider that the smaller the dog the quicker
totally untrue. Again the Brits,canadians,isarelis etc have used the spaniels and cockers for many many years because of their high drive and scenting ability. they also do not have the frequency of hip trouble that the GSDs have.
 

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Renee, if you read my post, you'll see that I put spaniels between the "proven breeds" for SAR because I do know they are extensively used. I've met some very good springer spaniels and cockers (at least English cockers) out there.

To me a lap dog is something much smaller and delicate, like a Poodle toy, a Yorkshire or a Miniature pinscher.

I can't speak of bomb detection, because I've never trained that, but in SAR, with the standards we work, to be certificated the dog has to find a victim that is about 100 meters away of the point where the handler is allowed to enter, sometimes out of sight. Only after the dog has pointed the first victim the handler is allowed to follow the dog to keep searching the other victims. You need a lot of drive (autonomy come in hand with drives) but you also need to be able to trust your dog enough to know that he will search in the designated area and not to take a trip to the country.
 
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