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A GSD's Nose... It's more than just "WET"

Currently on Summer break and will resume in the fall of `21

A dog’s nose not only dominates its face, but also their brain. In fact, a dog relies on their sense of smell to interpret their world and even to tell time!!! A dog uses its nose much the way human use their eyes to take in information around them and to understand their environment. Do you ever wonder how a dog seems to know the time when you are due home from work? When we leave in the morning, your sent is very fresh and strong. However, as the time passes your scent in the house begins to weaken and dissipate. Your dog actually begins to learn at what level of reaming scent intensity exists at the time when you normally return home.

To gain more respect for your dog’s olfactory ability, compare it to a person’s nose. Inside the nose of both species are bony scroll-shaped plates, called turbinates, over which air passes. A microscopic view of this organ reveals a thick, spongy membrane that contains most of the scent-detecting cells, as well as the nerves that transport information to the brain. In humans, the area containing these odor analyzers is about one square inch, or the size of a postage stamp. If you could unfold this area in a dog, on the other hand, it may be as large as 60 square inches, or just under the size of a piece of typing paper.

Though the size of this surface varies with the size and length of the dog’s nose, even flat-nosed breeds can detect smells far better than people. The following table shows the number of scent receptors in people and several dog breeds. A dog’s brain is also specialized for identifying scents. The percentage of the dog’s brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is actually 40 times larger than that of a human! It’s been estimated that dogs can identify smells somewhere between 1,000 to 10,000 times better than nasally challenged humans can. Table: Scent-Detecting Cells in People and Dog Breeds. 

Species Number of Scent Receptors
Humans 5 million
Dachshund 125 million
Fox Terrier 147 million
Beagle 225 million
German Shepherd 225 million
Bloodhound 300 million


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Different Tracking Disciplines


AKC offers sever Training Certificates in the Sport of Tracking

Search & Rescue
From missing persons cases to natural disasters, dogs have been an integral part in finding people who are in dire situations. Search and rescue (SAR) dogs can either use a scent in the air or the scent of a specific object to find who they’re looking for. They can be used in many different situations, including disasters – such as earthquakes where dogs can find people beneath the rubble – cadaver searches, drowning situations, and avalanches. Search and rescue training is a rigorous process starting from puppyhood. Once training is completed, dogs are tested and certified by SAR organizations. Breeds that most commonly work with SAR are German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Bloodhounds, among others. These dogs are chosen for their intelligence, strength, size, obedience, eagerness, temperament, and gentleness. AKC works in conjuntion with FEMA and recognizes both Urban & Wilderness Seach & Rescue Dog certifications which AKC will record on your registration as: SAR-U and/or SAR-W


The SV Program thru GSDCA focusses German Style Tracking.
The tracking phase begins with a temperament test during which the judge evaluates the dog's general temperament, including its reaction to being crowded and handled by strangers. A shy or aggressive dog is dismissed from the field and is unable to proceed.

Tracks are laid under the careful eye of the judge while the dog and handler are off site unless the dog is going for their level 1 as the Level 1 tracks are laid by the dog's handler. All higher subsequent level tracks are laid by a stranger. Tracks are normally laid on natural surfaces such as dirt, grass or agricultural fields. The tracks are laid with the “track layer” walking at a normal pace, not stomping or scuffing the ground with the level of the track determining the length and difficulty of the track, with a level 2 track more difficult than a 1 and a 3 more difficult than a 2. Likewise, the amount of time the track must age before the dog and handler are allowed to start tracking increases with each level.

The tracking involves the handler following behind the dog at the end of a 10-meter line, as the dog follows the scent of the track layer. The track includes several turns, as well as man-made articles which are left on the track by the tracklayer. The dog must scent out and follow the track from start to finish at the same consistent pace only stopping to indicate on the articles that were left on the track. The dog must work on his own; help, encouragement or additional commands from the handler are not aloud. The handler can only give an initial command to track at the beginning and a command to re-start after the dog finds/indicates each article. The dog must be methodical, deliberate and accurate in his work with his nose deep into the track the both through the turns and straight legs of the track. The dog must indicate the articles dropped by the tracklayer by either: lying down with the article between their front paws; coming to a sit with the article between their front paws or by retrieving the article by picking up the article up and returning directly to and sitting straightly in front of the handler.

The tracking phase is designed to test the dog's trainability, ability to scent and the dog’s mental focus and concentration with great focus on the dog’s problem-solving skills and ability to work independently for a prolonged period of time at a very specific and detailed task without encouragement or reassurance by the handler.

RH - German Recognized Search & Rescue

  • Area Search - This phase is done by means of a systematic search pattern in open fields or forested areas to locate missing persons.
    • The dog is judged on: Search behavior; Temperament; Enthusiasm; Work drive; Fitness
  • Rubble Work - It is the most difficult level for dogs to work in due to the dangers involved.
    • Searches may be conducted in collapsed buildings and/or inside buildings.
    • The Dog is judged on: Intensity; Independence; Search willingness; Endurance and Dexterity; along with finding the search victim(s)
  • Avalanche & Water - New Criteria coming
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