I'm trying to pick out a dog breed for MAR (Missing Animal Response)

Discussion in 'Dogs - General Dog Chat' started by Thor, Sep 29, 2011.

  1. Thor

    Thor New Member

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    Hi, I've been doing a lot of research on MAR as I would like to get involved with it.

    I'm looking to get a scent hound. For those of you who don't know what MAR is, it's Missing Animal Response, I'm going to specialize in dogs.

    What happens is the MAR dog is given something that smells like the dog they are looking for, such as a dog bed or a shirt, then tries to track the animal through sent.

    I'm stuck between bloodhound and St. Bernard.

    I somehow have the idea in my head that bloodhounds have the best sense of smell out of any dog. I think I may have researched it in the past, but can't find the article again so I don't know if this is true.

    If it's not true, I would much rather get a St.Bernard, as I could end up moving to Alaska, and I hear they do well in cold weather. Plus, I think I would end up searching for lost hunting dogs in the wilderness quite a bit, and I believe a St.Bernard is large enough to stand up to a bear if needed.

    Sense of smell trumps anything though, as I could always put a sweater on a bloodhound and carry around bear mace if needed.

    I know I'm going to be asked this, so let me get it out of the way. The dog is a pet first, co worker second. I have tons of experience with different types of dogs as I've been raised around them since I was 8. I will however be getting a professional to assist me in training my new puppy in MAR.
     
  2. Thor

    Thor New Member

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    Just realized I should have put this in dog breeds..... mods feel free to move it for me. Sorry.
     
  3. Zoom

    Zoom Twin 2.0

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    Many, MANY breeds do well at scent work, not just scent hounds. In fact, one of the top SAR dogs in the country right now is an Australian Shepherd. Tons of Labs excel at scent work as well.

    What are you looking for in a dog beyond their nose?
     
  4. Thor

    Thor New Member

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    Do you know if you can use a dog that isn't a scent hound for trailing?

    I know that you can use just about anything for tracking, but with trailing I'm inclined to believe you need a dog with a much more advanced sense of smell.

    The difference is in tracking, you send a dog into a burning building and it just goes in and finds whatever it's looking for.

    In trailing they may have to follow a sent that's 5 days old for miles.

    Not sure if I got the two terms mixed up.

    Another thing that would be nice to have, but isn't necessary is a dog that can handle business if we're trailing in the woods and an animal decides we look like a good meal.

    It would also be nice to have an animal that can do well in a variety of weather.

    Smart would be nice, but I think I'm overstepping by throwing this in. I'm starting to sound like I'm making a grocery list of what I need in a dog. Average intelligence should do the trick.

    Also, I'd like the dog to be friendly to EVERYONE as it's going to be working with the general public. But with proper training I'm sure that can be done with any dog.

    I'm really wanting a St.Bernard mainly because it checks off on more than half of my grocery list, and it would be an awesome pet to have. I would also be able to train it in weight pull just for fun. But I have to be reasonable in what I'm getting because even though it's going to be a pet first, it's also going to have to do its job well.

    Any idea if a St.Bernard can track a 7 day old sent for 5 miles? If so, I've made my decision.
     
  5. Renee750il

    Renee750il Felurian

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    Filas have noses and fit your physical criteria, but Alaska might be a tad cold for them and they're definitely NOT the dog for the vast majority of dog people.

    MyHorseMyRules (Jess) could probably give you the best advice.
     
  6. Thor

    Thor New Member

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    I've been fascinated with Filas before. Thing is, I don't know how it would do working so closely with animal and human populations. I need a dog that attacks when it's being attacked or an attack is definitely going to happen. From my understanding Filas friggin hate you just because they don't know who you are whether or not they've been through the rigorous training it takes to get the dog to understand not to attack everyone.

    What happens when it finds a dog during an MAR search and the dog has fear issues and is growling? I can't really trust that every dog I'm finding is going to be well trained.
     
  7. Zoom

    Zoom Twin 2.0

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    I'd think Search and Rescue qualifies as "trailing" and a variety of breeds excel at that.

    MyHorseMyRules would be an excellent resource for your questions. :)

    I'd foremost be thinking of a breed I could live with on a daily basis, because the calls for MAR aren't a daily occurance from what I understand.
     
  8. Romy

    Romy Taxiderpy

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    In Alaska you darn well better have a gun to protect your tracking dog. I don't care how big, tough, or stubborn a dog is. A grizzly charges you guys and that dog is dead if he tries to stop the bear without any backup from you or a team of psycho dog buddies. Same thing goes for ticked off moose or desperate hungry wolves. It might actually be better if you get a dog that won't engage wildlife, because if your dog starts fighting with a bear you can't shoot the bear and save yourself and the dog without risking your dog getting shot too.

    Just as an example, our obedience trainer has a sister in Alaska. The sister had two rottweilers. The overly large, overbred kind (100 lbs +). She drove up to the house one day only to have a rottweiler fly through the air and land on the hood of her suburban (it was thrown). The second dog came running, freaked out, with a grizzly right behind it. The dog on the hood jumped up and ran away too. They never saw their female rott again after that. The male showed up a few days later but he was so traumatized that they had to put him down a few months later.

    They also had an Irish wolfhound that did engage a grizzly that came in their yard and went after their kid. The dog fought the bear for few minutes, giving the father time to run inside, get his gun, and scare the bear off with gunshots. The dog wasn't going to give up, but he was tore up pretty bad and would have died without his owner's backup.

    As far as trailing dogs, you don't have to stick with just scenthounds. There are dobermans, collies, labs, mixes, german shepherds, etc. on the local SAR team and they do just fine locating folks on cold trails. Most dogs have incredible noses. Keep in mind that if you're working in subzero temps, the cold temperature by itself is going to affect the dog's ability to pick up a scent. Breed is less important than protecting their noses by not smoking around them and doing other things that screw up their ability to smell.

    Honestly I'd probably pick something compact and adapted for the cold. Many of the giant breeds that would be all right for tracking are slow maturing and prone to lots of health problems. If your dog's elbows/hips go out you can't use all that training you put into him (and he won't be stopping any bears). If your dog gets injured on a search, you'll have a really hard time transporting him out of the wilderness if he weighs 100+ lbs. I'd probably look into a good samoyed or Norwegian elkhound. Laikas would be good trackers but they're kind of standoffish/aggressive with strange dogs and people. Samoyed would probably be my first pick though. They're small enough to carry if one got injured, big enough to work, adapted for cold, handler oriented since they are a herding dog, and you probably wouldn't have a hard time teaching one to ignore wild game.

    If you're open to finding a good mix prospect, there are a lot of really nice working bred sled dogs in Alaska who are adapted for the climate. My sister had two, they were both black lab x malamute x mishmash of other sledding breeds. Both dogs were awesome, friendly, well adjusted, barked at moose and were willing to protect their people if the need arose (which didn't because my sis was prepared to defend them as well), they were physically sound, etc. Shadow was washed out as a sledding prospect, but would have been perfect at what you're describing.
     
  9. Tazwell

    Tazwell New Member

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    Just to throw this into the mix... Beaucerons excel at SAR work, and have an awesome ability to stay focused till the job is done. They can work for a long duration of time (bred to herd 30+ miles a day!) and are easily trained.
     
  10. PlottMom

    PlottMom The Littlest Hound

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    As far as scenthounds go, I've known some people to sell some of their Redbones to go on and become successful SAR dogs, and there's a guy who breeds Majestic Tree Hounds who have gone as far as Africa to track game, and he also sells to police departments and other people who do SAR.
     
  11. Aleron

    Aleron New Member

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    While many breeds can do well at scent work and tracking, I tend to think a Bloodhound bred for the work will be your best bet for trailing and it sounds like trailing is what you will need. Bloodhounds have been bred pretty much only for that job and everything about them lends itself to the job.


    Underdogs ~ The Bloodhound's Amazing Sense of Smell | Nature | PBS
     
  12. Most dogs can be taught to use their nose, and you can hone their ability with training and practice. Yes, it is useful to find a breed that has a natural ability for scentwork. But that's neither the only nor the first thing I look for in a SAR dog. You take a dog that is athletic, confident, high drive, attentive, and handler oriented... You can almost always get a good working dog out of that mix. And while you'll have a professional helping you train, you are going to be the handler. So you need to figure out what kind of personality would suit you. As someone else already pointed out, MAR won't have you called out on a daily basis. So you need a breed that you will be happy living with first and foremost.

    Second, you might think about a medium sized dog. If the dog gets hurt in the field, you get to carry it out. Yes, large dogs CAN be pulled out on deer drags. But what kind of terrain will you be going over? How far out are you likely to be? I absolutely love large dogs. But I need dogs that I can work, so I have medium sized dogs. Because I know that if they get hurt in the field, I can carry them on my shoulders for quite a distance. Not to mention when we work rubble... But I don't think you'll have to deal with that as much.

    I certainly would not ask one of my dogs to handle a wild animal. Yes, my dogs are strong and capable. But that's not their job. Their job is to find what I ask them to find. My job (and in SAR, the flanker's job) is to do my best to keep them safe while they do that. If you're going to be in Alaska, travel well-armed. You are right to be looking for a dog that can handle the cold if you might move to Alaska. But how sure are you that you'll be going there? If you're not positive, you might think about a dog that has a fair tolerance to both heat and cold. Because you can take measures to protect yours dogs from either extreme, but it's very hard to work a dog in the heat when they're far more suited to the cold.
     
  13. SaraB

    SaraB New Member

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    I think if you are set on a Saint to make sure you get one from active/working lines. I know far too many saints that are unwilling to stay sitting in a sit stay (rather than sliding into a down) much less actually work. LOL
     
  14. Saintgirl

    Saintgirl New Member

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    It really depends on what you want first and foremost. While a Saint does have a strong nose and has reportedly said to be able to smell out buried avalanche victims 20 feet under the snow they have a short career lifespan. A Saint is very slow to mature both mentally and physically and they are fast to age. My old boy stopped moving through the snow well at seven (he died when he was only 8 which is certainly not an uncommon age for Saints). I certainly wouldn't expect any Saint to defend against a bear. While very large they are far from fast and agile. My 4 year old Saint gets nearly a chuckle out of everyone who sees him running, it looks like a slow motion video of lots of jowls, dewlap, and drool moving in every direction at once! The other thing to take into consideration with a Saint is that trekking through the snow for hours on end is going to be very heavy work for a Saint Bernard. The ones used by the monks where not nearly as draft like as todays Saint Bernards, they were a lighter build dog capable of trekking through the snow for hours at a time.

    Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Saint Bernards and can't imagine life without them but I always tell people to be realistic when they are thinking of gettng one. They are HUGE, hairy, drooly dogs who want to be with you at all times. They don't live long and they are prone to heartbreaking joint problems. While alot of people tell me that they would just love to own one they are not the breed that many people realistically would enjoy for the lifetime of the animal.

    I personally think for the work you are looking to get into that a Saint wouldn't be the best fit, something smaller with more energy and agility would be a better fit. With that being said if you are determinded to get a Saint I'm sure you could find a smaller bred Saint from a reputable breeder that might suit what you are looking for. A small smooth coated female could be 90 to 100 lbs and might be a great fit.
     
  15. AliciaD

    AliciaD On second thought...

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    I've read a little, but not much, about SAR and if I got anything wrong please let me know!

    From my understanding of what you want, and what MAR and SAR entail, I think you want a dog that can do trailing, not just air scent. Trailing/tracking (I've heard them used interchangeably, and I've heard them defined as two separate things.) means that the dog has its nose to the ground and is trying to follow the path of the missing as closely as possible. This is the method that will find lost articles on the ground.

    Air scent is when a dog sniffs out the missing with its head held high. It's sniffing the air. There's some specific stuff about working into the wind, and dividing the work amongst grids, etc.

    From my understanding, most dogs naturally air scent, and if you teach air scenting first it can be very difficult to teach trailing afterwards, because air scenting is the easier of the two. Bloodhounds naturally trail, so that may be what you are looking for.

    German Shepherds, as one example, can be trained to do both. Don't rule out other breeds though! Regardless of what you think has the best nose, they are all far better than you!

    On a side note, if you're in Alaska and come across a Kodiak bear, please don't let your dog fight it! You can get certain bear dogs (isn't the Plott a hound that was used for hunting bears? They are a scenthound you may want to look into) like the Karelian Bear Dog, and other dogs bred to hold large game- but even then a bear that doesn't back down can do horrible damage. I wouldn't let my dog fight it out with a Kodiak.
     
  16. Thor

    Thor New Member

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    From my understanding, you're the one to talk to about a MAR/SAR type dog.

    I'm thinking Beauceron. They fit what you told me to look for and what I would want in a pet. Only problem is they aren't scenthounds.

    Would their huge drive to work make up for the fact that they don't have the same sense of smell as a bloodhound?
     
  17. Tazwell

    Tazwell New Member

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    The breeder I got Fleetwood from has trained and handled quite a few of her dogs in SAR. They excel at it, and seem to have a natural affinity for the task. I have to imagine scenting pets might even be easier than scenting people, but I don't know that.

    Her kennel name is in my siggy, if you're really interested you may want to contact her! I'm sure she'd be happy to answer your questions about Beaucerons and SAR work.
     
  18. I think you're thinking about the nose a bit too much. Yes, it would be beneficial to have a dog with a superior sense of smell. But the fact is, that ranks a lot lower on my list of traits I look for in a working dog than you might think. That being said, I don't know anything about Beaucerons. So if you want to look into that breed, I would contact breeders (like the one Tazwell mentioned), owners, and trainers who have dealt with them. Make sure you hear the good and the bad. No breed is absolutely perfect. What you want is the breed that's perfect for you. I love my lab, but she's a hoover dog. I love my 'houla, but he's very vocal. I love my husky, but.... Well, she's just a PITA. lol But these are all "faults" that I can happily live with. People have a tendency to try to gloss over things like that, but you need to be aware so you can make an informed decision. There's no rush. Take your time, and find the breed that's perfect for you.
     
  19. Thor

    Thor New Member

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    Ya know what just occurred to me 5 minutes ago....

    I was walking one of my dogs and she was smelling everything and anything.
    She also has a strong drive and literally the most confidence I've ever seen in a dog.

    She's a 6 months old 75% pitbull 25% Akita. Is there any reason I couldn't just train her for this?
     
  20. PWCorgi

    PWCorgi Priscilla Winifred Corgi

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    My corgi kicked every other dogs butt in our nosework class, scenthounds included. Just sayin' :cool:

    Not that I am suggesting you get a corgi :lol-sign:
     

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