When you are in danger, a well-trained survival dog may be your only hope of survival.
Not just any old dog will do. Does your dog need to be fearless and scary or helpful and gentle regardless of the situation, or a good balance of both? Let’s take a look at the characteristics or uses for a survival dog.
In a survival situation, your dog must be able to perform multiple valuable tasks. Depending on the situation it may need to:
- Locate animals for you to eat
- Defend you in the event of an attack
- Keep you warm in cold weather (especially if you are injured)
- Warn you of pending danger
- Chase off small predators/protect livestock
- Offer a significant morale boost
Your immediate reaction may be to think big: big dog, strong enough to carry its own BOB, better personal protection, and better able to withstand bad weather. These are all valid points, but there is another thing you need to consider – a big dog eats a lot, so its BOB is going to be bulky and heavy. Not to mention that the disaster situation could last a long time, so you will have to have stockpiled a huge amount of food.
Smaller dogs take less fuel to keep them going. However, they may not be as intimidating in the event of personal attack and may be more sensitive to cold.
Both large and small dogs can be trained in a number of survival techniques such as tracking and trailing. Of course some breeds have been specifically bred to excel in a specific set of skills. But it’s also not unusual for the skill set of the dog to reflect the skill and consistency of the trainer. Some times you can teach an old dog new tricks!
No soldier goes into battle untrained – no dog will be useful to you when disaster strikes if you haven’t trained it well. You are going to have to put time and effort into training to get the reliable results you need.
All breeds of dog must be thoroughly trained in basic obedience commands. One-on-one teaching and intense individual attention will pay huge dividends and the results will likely exceed your expectations.
Here’s a list of dog breeds you should consider – review this information so you can make an educated decision on what type of dog best suits your needs.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback
The Rhodesian Ridgeback, sometimes called the African Lion Dog or Hound, may be a good one to consider if you are bugging out.
Medium sized, but not huge, the Ridgeback is a fearless yet loving dog that will do an excellent job of protecting you and your family. They are loyal, intelligent and very athletic, are able to effortlessly travel long distances in a day.
The Ridgeback, just like any dog, needs sound training – especially when it comes to socializing. Aggressive behavior in these dogs usually happens when the dog isn’t socialized properly. Considering that they are quite capable of warding off lions, I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of a Ridgeback.
They tend to hold aloof from strangers, however this is not aggressive behavior. They will, more often than not, simply ignore strangers rather than challenge them.
The German Shepherd
The German Shepherd (GSD) is one of the world’s most popular breeds of dog. Sometimes known as the Alsatian, or Alsatian Wolf Dog, the breed originated from Germany during the 19th century, where they were primarily used for herding sheep.
GSDs are highly intelligent and make excellent guard dogs. Today they are heavily relied on for police patrols, criminal tracking, and search-and-rescue missions. Their sheer size and strength makes them ideal for a wide range of tasks and their obedience, loyalty, and versatility is highly prized.
Thousands of GSDs have been employed in military missions such as scout duty, messenger dogs, and personal guard dogs. They can be trained to warn soldiers of enemy presence and in the detection of explosives.
They are extremely athletic, have the second most powerful bite of all dog breeds, and possess strong protective instincts.
The Rottweiler is famous for its powerful bite, which is second to none. Despite this ugly reputation, the Rottweiler is surprisingly gentle and friendly in disposition, extremely loyal, devoted, and eager to work.
Although it may be aloof at first introduction to strangers, the Rottweiler is generally good-natured and self-confident. It is highly intelligent and hardy, makes a fantastic guard, companion, and working dog, and has a strong desire to please.
Training these dogs can be a little tricky, but your patience and persistence will pay off and the results will be well worth the effort.
Rottweilers are basically fearless, have an inherent desire to herd, and can be relied on to work stock of any kind under any weather conditions. However, this instinct may cause difficulties in the home environment if the dog is to be near other home pets or small children – behavior of this kind isn’t going to work in a family environment.
Dangerous behavior in Rottweilers usually results from mishandling, neglect, abuse, or lack of opportunity for normal socialization. For this reason, breeders insist that the dog is given opportunity for extensive socialization and responsible, formal training.
The Dobermann Pinscher
The common perception of Dobermann Pinschers is that they are aggressive, intimidating, and ferocious. Considering that the breed was developed as a personal guard dog, these traits are quite natural.
The Dobermann was bred to be fearless in the defense of its master, yet with enough obedience to do so only on command. This kind of dog that only needs one word from its master and it can put down that burglar in your house.
However, over the years breeders have toned down the aggression of the Dobermann to produce a breed which is much better natured, extremely loyal and easily trained.
They are highly intelligent, energetic, and fearless. Their medium size and short-haired coat also made them popular as house dogs.
The Labrador Retriever
The Labrador (or Lab) has the boast of being the most popular breed of dog in the world. It is extremely versatile and can perform a huge variety of tasks.
Originally bred in Canada for the purpose of bringing in nets from the water and retrieving escaping fish, the Labrador has won international accreditation as a guide for the blind and as a companion for those with other disabilities. They are excellent swimmers and have been known to save children’s lives by dragging them from the water.
Labs are used extensively by law enforcement agencies for detection and screening purposes.
Their keen sense of smell enables them to follow almost any scent trail. Their persistence allows them to remain on the scent until they find their object, a trait which has led to their extensive use as trackers for criminals, terrorists, thieves, and smugglers.
The ability to carry an object in its mouth with little damage is unique to the Labrador, however it has more than enough grunt to make a vicious attack on an unwanted intruder.
Playful, energetic, loyal, and very obedient, the Labrador is works well in almost any situation. It’s even temperament makes it a fantastic family pet, although it’s fun-loving nature may require firm handling to guarantee the best results.
The Border Collie
The Border Collie was originally bred In Northern England as a working dog and is highly prized for its intelligence and obedience. It responds well to human commands and is famous for its herding ability, especially with sheep.
With such a heritage, this dog is extremely energetic, demanding, and playful and requires regular, rigorous exercise.
Although they may make good companions, the Border Collie may not a good option for your family – due to their strong herding desires, they may become jealous and even attack. Obviously this behavior can’t be tolerated, especially if there are children in the picture.
As a member of the hound family, the Beagle was originally used as a hunting dog. Beagles were developed for the primary purpose of hunting hare. They made ideal companions for hunters on horseback or those on foot, which makes them an excellent choice if you are bugging out – they can hunt out rabbits, squirrels, and other small quarry.
The Beagle is not dissimilar in appearance to the foxhound; though smaller, shorter and with longer ears. Its strong sense of smell has rendered it useful in quarantine roles, detecting prohibited foodstuffs, and agricultural imports.
Their even temperament, single-mindedness, medium size and intelligence has made them popular family pets.
Yes, the Poodle. Incorrectly stereotyped as a dainty, fancy little bit of fluff that walks sedately beside well-to-do ladies, the Poodle is actually a highly intelligent and very capable dog. We are talking about the ‘larger Poodle’ here – not the little kind that has bows and ribbons in its hair.
The Poodle was traditionally a highly valuable gun dog, used in the hunting of fowl. It is very intelligent and requires a lot of physical and mental stimulation to maintain peak performance.
This breed’s instinctive behavior is worth noting – hunting and marking drives are more obvious in Poodles than a lot of other dog breeds. It ranks as one of the most intelligent dogs, is highly trainable, and an excellent swimmer.
While the Poodle is being more extensively used again in America as a hunter, many men still refuse use this breed because of its association with the ‘elite’ of society.
The Jack Russell Terrier
The Jack Russell Terrier (JRT) is a small, fearless, and extremely athletic dog. Originally bred to chase out ground game such as badgers, fox, and groundhogs, the JRT has the ability to locate the victim in the earth then either hold it there or flush it out.
JRT’s require a lot of physical exercise and can become easily bored and destructive if not properly stimulated. They seem to have endless energy and more likely than not, you’ll get tired long before your dog.
They are known to be noisy, stubborn at times, and can become aggressive if they are not adequately socialized.
There are as many opinions on survival dogs as there are people to give them. No one dog is the perfect ‘all-rounder,’ so you need to assess what you need and choose accordingly.
When the tide turns ugly, you want a dog you can rely on – one that is trustworthy and can help you get out of trouble as quickly as possible.