Maryland Pet

Detection Dogs- Part 1: Is The Labrador Retriever The New Rising Hero?

When you hear somebody speak of a true life hero that reacted in a moment of bravery and did something courageous, regardless of the risks involved, a dog rarely comes to mind. But some of the most amazing feats of bravery and accomplishments are done by service-trained dogs each and every day.

After the disastrous terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in 2001, the need for highly skilled working dogs to detect bombs, narcotics, chemicals, and explosives skyrocketed. In addition, more search and rescue dogs (SAR) were in demand as well.

In the past, working breeds such as the Belgian Malinois and, more commonly, the German Shepherd, took over these types of roles. But today, the Labrador Retriever is gaining huge popularity as the breed of choice for these demanding and potentially dangerous situations.

In fact, the Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Customs, and the Auburn University’s Canine Detection Training Center have all initiated detection-dog breeding programs that are 100% exclusive to the Labrador Retriever.

What Makes The Labrador Retriever So Qualified?

Research studies have shown that most dogs (in general) have the ability to detect infinitesimal amounts of scent, estimated to be lower than 400 parts per trillion.  This ability alone makes dogs more reliable than any mechanical detection device available. In addition, dogs also have the ability to hold onto an odor and trace that scent directly to its source.

These skills are common with dogs in general, so when you consider that field and hunting Labradors are genetically favored to locate game when a hunter sends them out to retrieve fallen foul, this alone adds more power and ability to a Lab’s detection ability. When hunting, all a hunter has to do is give the Lab a general area of where the bird fell, and the dog does the rest, picks up the scent and brings back its prey.

In addition to having to rely on only an area of land to track down a particular bird, these Labrador Retrievers must also have the ability to block out every other scent that comes along the way. He must be able to discriminate against these other odors in order to be successful. These outside odors can often be so powerful that other dogs would not be able to concentrate and follow the direct target line like the Labrador Retriever can.

Another reason why Labrador Retrievers make excellent detection dogs is due to its work ethic. These dogs are highly intelligent and seem to have an endless drive to learn. And Labs are always begging for something to do. They enjoy working with people as opposed to other hunting breeds that prefer to act independently. This human-canine comradery is essential when facing a dangerous situation that has the potential to kill human beings.

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