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There's something minor I never told you guys or the people who remember me. Back when I had Lucy, I became interested in a local search and rescue group. Today, two years later, I find myself STILL interested in search and rescue.

So, I have some questions.

Is search and rescue something a german shepherd is made to do? Can german shepherds excel at search and rescue, or should that be left to scent hounds? I know I have NOT went out and saw a lot of German Shepherds, but when I do get out and see some, how will I know what types are best fit for search and rescue? I really like WGSL german shepherds and I am assuming they can do it since they obtain SCH and other titles, but I don't know.

I just want to know can I do search and rescue and do it well with a german shepherd, or will I have to do it with a golden retriever or another dog with good scent detection.
 

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If you seriously want to have a dog in SAR some day, get with a group now. Train with out a dog. You will find what traits are good traits to have. Lots of GSD's in SAR. Mrs K has her Indra in training, one of my pups is with another member of her group, seeing if he can make the cut. There are other members on here in SAR as well.
 

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Follow Dawn's advice about starting without a dog.

Many teams want to make sure of your committment before they let you bring in a dog.

I have honestly not seen nearly as many showline GSDs as I have workinglines doing SAR, but I have seen a few. Our team alone has 9 GSDs, 8 of which are workingline and one BYB not sure what it is. We then have other breeds.

GSDs, labs, border collies, aussies - you see a lot of these breeds in SAR. Some hounds for trailing work, not as many as you would think and we seem to have strugged more with the hounds when it comes to gaminess compared to the GSDs. Depends on the team.

Some teams are more into one breed than another - so if everyone on the team has a lab, it may be more difficult for someone with a GSD because labs are labs and GSDs are GSDs. So you typically have the pointy eared camp and the floppy eared camp.
 

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There's something minor I never told you guys or the people who remember me. Back when I had Lucy, I became interested in a local search and rescue group. Today, two years later, I find myself STILL interested in search and rescue.

So, I have some questions.

Is search and rescue something a german shepherd is made to do? Can german shepherds excel at search and rescue, or should that be left to scent hounds? I know I have NOT went out and saw a lot of German Shepherds, but when I do get out and see some, how will I know what types are best fit for search and rescue? I really like WGSL german shepherds and I am assuming they can do it since they obtain SCH and other titles, but I don't know.

I just want to know can I do search and rescue and do it well with a german shepherd, or will I have to do it with a golden retriever or another dog with good scent detection.
you need a dog with determination , perseverance, high hunt/search, confident , not dog aggressive, not reactive.
GSDs are certainly capable at SAR. My team is mainly GSDs (about 12+). We have one English Shepherd and have had others in the past. Titan and I started on our most recent team about 5 months ago.. and were on a team in Germany for about 4 or 5 months. He's still a beginner for sure but we are working toward certification.

More experienced people would be able to go into detail on qualities to look for in your GSD. Carmspack is dead on with the ones that were listed. Those are what my team looked for when evaluating Titan. I ask the breeder of my new puppy to look for those when she picks my puppy for me as my new girl is going to be SAR as well. Remember too that the different areas have different disciplines, e.g., air scenting, tracking, HRD, etc.

I would however like to offer advice on finding a good team.. I researched teams left and right for a good 2 months before even going to a training. Here is what I would suggest..

  • I would ask what organization they certify their dogs through, if it's not a nationally recognized organization, keep looking.
  • How often they train, if it's less than once a week, keep looking.
  • Don't ask this but if they say, they will be charging you money to come out and & train or they want to take your dog and charge you to train it, keep looking.
  • Ask them about their policies and procedures, if they don't have anything in writing it is most likely not a team but a dictatorship. A lot of ego's get in the way of many new/apirering K9 handlers and turn them away with their ego's.
  • Ask them if they are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, if they don't have their act together, you should keep looking
  • Ask if you can come watch a training session or volunteer with them before you commit to a team. If they say no or say you have to be a member, keep looking.
It is truly a rewarding occupation for you and your dog. I am a beginner and already can't seeing myself not do this from now on. I just love it.. I love watching the dogs work.. it's just incredible. I hope that you move forward with this :) Keep us posted!
 

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My only modifiers there would be to also ask around. I would go with most of those criteria but some teams certify to state (not national such as California and New York) standards and some have offical training 2-3 times a month with break out pockets meeting more often. Most of our team members train together 2-3 times a week but full on team training is only two full all day saturdays a month....

All the HRD dogs are nationally ceritified and have been for years and we are now pushing the others to national certs but we did not until we had certifying resources within reasonable driving distances (3-4 hours). Several of our members can not afford flying across country and taking off a week to certify. We do have inhouse which does require someone from another team to administer the test. Not ideal but that is an evolving goal. Could be with other teams as well.
 

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That makes sense.. Like I said I have only been apart of SAR for about 10 months total. Everything is still pretty new to me.. not VERY new but I still only know what our group does and the definite do nots! Like the team I was in in Germany.
 

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I definitely agree that National Certs should be the norm..and that is why we are pushing them now. I know people say that if someone can't fly across country and take a week off work to do so they should be excluded from SAR.

FWIW- we certify under different NAPWDA cadaver trainers than the one in our area just because we train and search together - so we just flew in one and put her up in a hotel and fed her, and provided her with a car, as it was less expensive than all 4 of us (3 our team, one on another team-the team with the other master trainer on it) racking up seminar and travel expenses. You gotta give it to these folks. They do this and cannot be paid for their time.

There are lot of NARC and Utility trainers but few cadaver ones so it is easier to get the trailing and air scent tests (which are, in fact, less extreme than our internal advanced certs (40acre NAPWDA, 160acre SCSARDA) (2 hour (I think) track NAPWDA, 24 hour SCSARDA)

Not too keen on NASAR due to the grandfathered in evaluators (who have never certified in the discipline they are judging) and not all national certs are equal.
 

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Not too keen on NASAR due to the grandfathered in evaluators (who have never certified in the discipline they are judging) and not all national certs are equal.
Did not know that about them. good to know.
 

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What would you do as a volunteer for them? Just curious, I've only been a part of a group where I was a handler as well as played victim if they needed it. Our volunteers generally are victims.
 

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Is search and rescue something a german shepherd is made to do? Can german shepherds excel at search and rescue, or should that be left to scent hounds? I know I have NOT went out and saw a lot of German Shepherds, but when I do get out and see some, how will I know what types are best fit for search and rescue? I really like WGSL german shepherds and I am assuming they can do it since they obtain SCH and other titles, but I don't know.

I just want to know can I do search and rescue and do it well with a german shepherd, or will I have to do it with a golden retriever or another dog with good scent detection.

It is not the breed,but the dog :) The dog must have retrieve/hunt drive, rock solid nerves and good hips/elbows,no dog aggression issues. My dog listed below ,Karo, is IRO certified for SAR. Agility is important as well. The large boned huge dogs are not the best choice. As far as the lines I have used WGSL dogs before as HRD dogs,narcotic dogs and patrol dogs. There are tons of them being used in police work. Again,the dog should have the desired traits for training in the discipline. :) You also received some great advice with regard to certifications nationally. Do some research on the teams. :)
 

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This is the SAR I went to visit two years ago:

Search and Rescue Dogs - Mid-South - Search Dogs South

The lady was really nice and she told me to come back when I wasn't in college and had more time to commit to them.

That was two years ago, and I'm not ready yet.
I don't know how busy you are, but I love doing SAR while in college and working. For me the random hours of my schooling allow me to get away for the mid-week training more so that if I was working full time.
 

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What would you do as a volunteer for them? Just curious, I've only been a part of a group where I was a handler as well as played victim if they needed it. Our volunteers generally are victims.
I don't know, it's been two years since I talked to them and so it's hard to remember every detail of the conversation.
 

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Starting without a dog makes sense. Training the dog is not as hard as training the handler. I started with the dog directly and have a serious lack in Land Navigation skills which are absolutely critical as a handler. Be a Grid Searcher for at least a year. Go on searches once you have the DEC and be a flanker. You can learn a lot from just being a flanker, seeing how the handler navigates the dog.

There is SO much more to SAR than just training the dog. I'm going to the SAR Academy at Feb. 8th to learn what I haven't learned yet. We also started training with another K9 team which helps us getting our dogs certified and my fellow team member (who is handling one of dawns dogs) to get him certified in Cadaver. He's not dual purprose, he's going to be Wilderness Cadaver.

He is doing great by the way. He takes time maturing. Gorgeous dog, but he is doing great. He got a lot of praise from the other team of how well both of them do.
 

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I don't know, it's been two years since I talked to them and so it's hard to remember every detail of the conversation.
Then just start over. Tell them that you are ready now. If it is a good team they shouldn't have any issue to answer your questions all over again.
 
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