Avalanche dogs, these rescuers like no other

The mountain is as beautiful as it is dangerous, especially when winter comes, and with it the risk of snow avalanches. Fortunately, avalanche dogs can find missing persons every year

Dogs, much faster and more efficient than men

Faster and therefore more effective than men, dogs are irreplaceable in situations of extreme urgency such as searching for people buried under the snow

In just a few minutes, they cover areas that would require hours of work by trackers.

The survival of Avalanche victims are a matter of minutes. Speed ​​is therefore essential to hope to save them.

In France, there are two types of mountain dog research teams: that of the Army and the Gendarmerie, and that of the CRS and ski resorts.

Which breeds of dogs are adapted to life in the high mountains?

If the Saint-Bernard is often the first one to be thought of when 'we evoke the rescuer dogs, this race is not adapted mountain life in winter. Too heavy, it lacks efficiency, and the snow sticks to its long hairs.

These are mainly German Shepherds and Belgian Shepherds who are mobilized. These dogs adapt quickly to the conditions of the high -montagne .

Their coat changes and protects them more effectively from the cold. Their pads are also transformed. They harden to better withstand the snow and salt that tend to irritate the paws of dogs.

Other breeds, such as the Boxer, Golden Retriever or Labrador are also sometimes trained to rescue victims. avalanche


Rescue dogs must be trained naturally before participating in mountain rescues. They begin this training at the age of 1 to 4 years, and it takes about 1 year and a half training for a dog to be ready and mobilized on missions.

They then learn to recognize a particular smell of the human body , which goes back to the surface of the snowpack. Thanks to their incomparable flair, dogs can spot this odor, even when the victims are buried under a layer of snow up to several meters.

Dogs do not know the notion of work, and their training is above all a game for them. The training is articulated around different exercises, some aiming to develop their speed of discovery, and others to teach them perseverance.

Unflinching trust between the dog and his master

dogs is of course indispensable, the relation they maintain with their master is also primordial .

Unceasing complicity and trust must be born between the animal and the man.

A rescuer dog usually remains with the same master throughout his career, and very often all his life. The relationship is indeed so strong that it is unthinkable to separate the two workmates.

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