Remarkable Skills of an Avalanche Rescue Dog

The Right Tool For the Job

When it comes to mountain life, avalanches are part of the territory. If you’re lucky, you might only see or hear one. But on the off chance you get caught, there’s little even the most experienced mountaineer can do to escape. Bright gear, a beacon, shovel and probe are key to survival, but when disaster strikes, nothing beats four furry legs and a wet nose. Trained since puppies, avalanche rescue dogs have unique talents that are unmatched by humans or human science – covering as much ground in thirty minutes as twenty humans could in four hours.


The Search is On

Working with their nose in the air, avalanche rescue dogs can pick up human scent in the avalanche field. Finding a scent carried in air currents, they are trained to zero in on the point of greatest concentration to find a survivor.


A Nose for Rescue

A highly-refined tool, a dog’s nose is made for tracking scents. Wet and spongy, it literally absorbs scents out of the air. Smelling with nostrils separately, it can determine the direction of the scent. Inhaling, a specialized scent chamber with 300 million scent receptors analyzes the air for scent and intensity. Combine that with the fact that dogs devote 40 times more of their brain power to smelling than humans do and it’s easy to see why man’s best friend passes the smell test when it comes to avalanche rescue.