Breed choice for lost pet tracking

Sparrow

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#1
I would like to get into lost pet tracking with my next dog. I already help with some local volunteers in difficult cases running live traps, feed stations, game cameras, etc. I would eventually like to make a business out of it, but doing so may not be viable in my current community. In any event, I want a capable dog.

I think the main problem I am finding in selecting a breed is that many of the ones I love have too much prey drive to be safe tracking lost cats/small breed dogs without having a... rather dangerous "alert" upon finding them. :)

Probably my biggest issue is that I don't really click with sporting breeds. Retrievers and spaniels are nice enough as other people's dogs, but I wouldn't want to take one home. I have considered some pointers, but haven't really met one that I quite click with either. Same with herders. I generally feel most connected to bully types (see above re: prey drive... I want a staffy bull, but don't see it working with my goals) and the working group. I feel like this would be way easier if I got along with certain breeds better.

I like my dogs to be a bit sharp and hard. I didn't know what to do with myself when I first got Rook, because she is so sensitive. Don't get me wrong, I'm 100% for positive training methods, but I need a dog who won't melt under pressure. Stubborn I can deal with happily, but I still need a dog that wants to work with me as a team.

I'd like something mid-sized so it could go fast/far and still be agile. Large enough to cover ground but small enough to get into smaller spaces or get packed out if injured would be ideal, though I'm not opposed to accepting that there is no perfect dog and I'll just need more than one for different "jobs."

I have a handful of potential breed ideas, but am still torn. This will probably be a 2017 puppy.

Thoughts?
 
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*blackrose

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#4
I was also wondering about maybe a Catahoula? Doesn't someone here do search and rescue with hers?
 

Romy

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#5
Wirehaired pointing griffon would be amazing at it. They are closer working than other sporting dogs. Charlie acted like he had an invisible 100' tether. He was an amazing tracker.

As a breed they have as close to zero % dog aggression as is possible. They aren't what I would consider sharp, but they are probably one of the most resilient breeds outside of the bully breeds. Charlie used to crawl under the cow's electric fence after swimming in the ocean. It would go, "GZZZT GZZZZZT GZZZZTTT CRAAAAKKK!" His back skin would flinch, and he would be all like "heheh, that tickles." He was immune to people yelling and stuff at him when mad. My ex got mad at him constantly and he was like, "whut? SQUIRREL! whut?" Honestly he was a lot like a non DA bully, with sasquatch hair.
 

Sparrow

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#6
Thanks for the input. I wanted to see initial reactions and thoughts before yammering about my own ideas. :)

I've definitely looked into Beagles. They seem like really fun little dogs, and there are some breeders still hunting with their dogs and actively breeding for more than just companionship. I want to do obedience and agility with my next dog as well, and think Beagles would be fun to train in both of those sports. I have a soft spot for hounds of all sorts, and have looked into several scent hounds for lost pet tracking, but the larger ones that I like a lot (Harriers and Redbones) I'm not sure would be cat safe in a tracking situation.

I have a friend with a Catahoula and he has... a lot of derp to him. I think ours up here are different than those found in other places? He's pretty large, too. I wouldn't want to have to carry him. Not sure about cat safety again... he's a big friendly dope, but I get the feeling most 'houla lines are drivier than him.

I've also looked into WPG after some older posts here... but I've only met one, and wasn't super impressed. That could easily be the owner, or the individual dog. The again if I based my decision solely on which breed I have met and adored, I'd end up with a Rottie or SBT, sooo... :D

But yeah, the WPG sounds like an awesome worker. I like high pain tolerance in my dogs. Not that I intend to put them in painful situations, but I just appreciate it. The females come close to being within my range of preferred weight. I love me some wiry coats. I just wish I could meet more. The one I've been around was just... hard to describe. I get the feeling it may have been the handler not training focus well enough. I think it's also a younger dog (maybe 3?) She has a GSP as well, who seems more serious and focused (and is also older.)

I'm not entirely opposed to sporters and herders, I'm just picky about them. I've seen certain lines of Labs and Golden around here that are really nice. I just don't care for a dog that is overly friendly to the point of being oblivious to people and other dogs not wanting them around. As the owner of a reactive dog, I've come to be extra aware of retrievers because no matter what Zoe tells them, they just want to come love her face.

I do like what I read about American Water Spaniels. They sound closer to Chessies in certain ways, but in a little package. And they have tails! If I went spaniel, that would probably be my choice.

I've looked into Dalmatians quite a bit. I like the LUA project for better health in the breed, and like their endurance, but haven't spent enough time around enough of them to say for sure.

Koolies - I go back and forth thinking Koolies are THE ONE. They may still be, as they don't seem to have some of the herder traits I dislike. They seem a bit different than the BCs, Aussies and Shelties. All great dogs, but not what I want. I actually really adore the Malinois I've met, even my trainer friend's neurotic rescue girl who was locked in a crate for years. They're just more dog than I want right now (not in terms of needing activity, but in terms of worrying about safety issues.) I think Pyr Sheps are awesome little dogs, but am only aware of one in my state, and that's probably not enough for me to know they don't actually drive me nuts.

So... yeah. I would think a Koolie could do the job? I do really want a one at some point, but not sure about sources. I'm not opposed to importing, but don't know what the current law is for Rabies vaccines/age of pup? Is that waived for Australia?

I generally prefer bitches, so avoiding SSA is a big deal for me (hence me probably having to give up my dream of a nice "little" Rottie girl. I just need to whine about that some more, because I love the breed even if they don't have the other traits I want. I'd get one if it weren't for SSA concerns.)
 

Sparrow

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#7
Oh man, now my WPG research has led me to the Pudelpointer. They are gorgeous! It looks like they got a bit of a slimmer build from the poodle. I'd have to explain a million times to people that it's not a designer breed, though. I wonder how they compare to the WPG.
 

Grab

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I met a Pudelpointer puppy the other day at work. Obviously no clue on working ability, but lord she was cute
 
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#10
I think there are a lot of hounds that could do this well, and wouldn't worry too much about cat-safeness with them in general if you start one training for the job young. They're mainly bred to notify loudly once they've found quarry, less so to kill on their own (unlike dogs like terriers), and from what I've seen watching people train them as pets and as hunting dogs they can be pretty easily put off harming small animals if that's your goal and if you start working with them on it soon enough. Lots of them turn out to have more "bay drive" than "prey drive" and will be too busy barking to bite unless encouraged to it. Might overdo it with the barking though, and that alone could stress or scare a cat. :p Beagles are one of your surest bets there. I like Elrohwen's ESS and ECS ideas too but maybe they'd be too "sporty" for you, not sure.

I don't know about Alaskan Catahoulas but I wouldn't recommend working line Catahoulas from the continental US because lots of Catahoulas have predisposition toward high prey drive and dog aggression. They can also be a lot of dog... a lot. Enough that BC people are known to comment on how much dog I have (and there are some Catahoulas that are much more intense than my dude).

Perhaps feists and small curs would be worth a look for you, though. I find smaller curs softer than larger ones like Catahoulas and the Mt. Curs I had as a kid were pretty easy to train out of chasing cats or poultry. I'm really fond of Mt. Curs and would love to see their uses expand because they can be very versatile dogs, so I'll admit bias.
 

BostonBanker

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#11
I find smaller curs softer than larger ones like Catahoulas and the Mt. Curs I had as a kid were pretty easy to train out of chasing cats or poultry. I'm really fond of Mt. Curs and would love to see their uses expand because they can be very versatile dogs, so I'll admit bias.
Completely off topic, but my Mountain Cur would like to request photos of your childhood dogs :)
 
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Completely off topic, but my Mountain Cur would like to request photos of your childhood dogs :)
I wish I had some to share but I don't...of any of our dogs, and we had way too many. My parents wouldn't have been interested in photographing them and my first good camera of my own I didn't get until I was sixteen and out of the house. : /
 
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#13
i didn't even know having dogs to track lost pets was a thing. It doesn't sound very plausible in theory or in application. Regardless if the dog you get to do it is safe with all other animals, a very high percentage of other unfamiliar animals are going to run from another dog tracking them. I don't know how this helps other than you might now know an area they were last seen in and now they've run from it, so again, not sure how that helps much.
 

Sparrow

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#14
Thank you all for the input and help. I think I may end up leaning more toward a herder, but it would have to be just the right one, so it could be a long hunt if I go that route.

Rook has traits of all the breeds in her, and I'm finding myself enjoying the herder traits, but probably because they are tempered by everything else. I like some herders, just not... um... on the crazy, creepy BC end of the spectrum? No offense to BC people, but I don't think I could have one.

Perhaps feists and small curs would be worth a look for you, though. I find smaller curs softer than larger ones like Catahoulas and the Mt. Curs I had as a kid were pretty easy to train out of chasing cats or poultry. I'm really fond of Mt. Curs and would love to see their uses expand because they can be very versatile dogs, so I'll admit bias.
Do you think a Blue Lacy could be cat friendly? I really, really love the look of them. I haven't met any, but they seem super awesome.

i didn't even know having dogs to track lost pets was a thing. It doesn't sound very plausible in theory or in application. Regardless if the dog you get to do it is safe with all other animals, a very high percentage of other unfamiliar animals are going to run from another dog tracking them. I don't know how this helps other than you might now know an area they were last seen in and now they've run from it, so again, not sure how that helps much.
There are a few pockets of people doing it successfully, but it's part of a multi-faceted approach. I have experience with the other facets (networking, live traps, game cams, feed stations, other unique means of catching super wary loose dogs...) but a tracking dog can really help in certain situations, if only to affirm a certain animal is in the area of trapping efforts.

I helped get a cat who bolted after a fatal RV accident, and it was a wild goose chase the first couple of weeks without any idea which way the cat went or if he had holed up in the vehicle. He ended up found near the garage the RV was towed to. He hid really, REALLY well inside the RV, then snuck around the property for a few weeks until he happened to be spotted and the traps were moved from other "sightings" that weren't really him. A detection dog would have saved so much time and effort.

We brought someone up to tranq a semi-feral dog escaped from a foster a couple of years ago, but it was a really tricky situation limited by the weather because we couldn't dart the dog when it was below a certain temp without a reliable means to track her. It ended up taking an additional four months to catch that dog by other means because she was trap-savvy and it got too late in the year to tranq without a tracker.

They are also great for confirming the death of a lost pet, but of course one doesn't need to worry about cat-safe in those cases.
 

Romy

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#15
i didn't even know having dogs to track lost pets was a thing. It doesn't sound very plausible in theory or in application. Regardless if the dog you get to do it is safe with all other animals, a very high percentage of other unfamiliar animals are going to run from another dog tracking them. I don't know how this helps other than you might now know an area they were last seen in and now they've run from it, so again, not sure how that helps much.
Surprisingly enough, it's extremely effective and becoming one of the default responses for folks who have lost sight hounds.

A few months ago someone locally lost their whippet. It's a very rural county with a high population of coyotes, black bear, large aggressive raccoons, and cougars. They put up fliers everywhere. Organized large search parties of volunteers. For two weeks the owners and volunteers were outside for hours searching for this dog.

After those two weeks with zero sightings, most volunteers had given up and assumed the dog was wildlife food.

The owners didn't give up. They hired a pet tracker and within hours of going out, the tracking dog found the lost whippet alive and well hunkered down in a field that had been combed over dozens of times over the 2 week period.
 

Romy

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#16
Thank you all for the input and help. I think I may end up leaning more toward a herder, but it would have to be just the right one, so it could be a long hunt if I go that route.

Rook has traits of all the breeds in her, and I'm finding myself enjoying the herder traits, but probably because they are tempered by everything else. I like some herders, just not... um... on the crazy, creepy BC end of the spectrum? No offense to BC people, but I don't think I could have one.
A smooth collie could potentially work really well for you. They are pretty calm and collected for a herding dog, highly intelligent, good with other animals, and excellent at tracking.

Mel at Moxie Collie's original search and rescue dog was a smooth merle named Tucker. He was an amazing SAR dog, and ended up making the county SAR team at only 1 year old. It was pretty unheard of, because they'd never allowed a dog on the team under 2 years old before. He was super amazing and mentally very mature though.
 
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#17
Surprisingly enough, it's extremely effective and becoming one of the default responses for folks who have lost sight hounds.

A few months ago someone locally lost their whippet. It's a very rural county with a high population of coyotes, black bear, large aggressive raccoons, and cougars. They put up fliers everywhere. Organized large search parties of volunteers. For two weeks the owners and volunteers were outside for hours searching for this dog.

After those two weeks with zero sightings, most volunteers had given up and assumed the dog was wildlife food.

The owners didn't give up. They hired a pet tracker and within hours of going out, the tracking dog found the lost whippet alive and well hunkered down in a field that had been combed over dozens of times over the 2 week period.
learn something new every day :)
 

Sparrow

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#18
A smooth collie could potentially work really well for you. They are pretty calm and collected for a herding dog, highly intelligent, good with other animals, and excellent at tracking.

Mel at Moxie Collie's original search and rescue dog was a smooth merle named Tucker. He was an amazing SAR dog, and ended up making the county SAR team at only 1 year old. It was pretty unheard of, because they'd never allowed a dog on the team under 2 years old before. He was super amazing and mentally very mature though.
I do like smooth collies. I'm not sure if they are exactly what I want in all arenas, but I'm sure they could get the searching jobs done. They seem like nice dogs.

In trying to find a potential herder that works for me I've been reading up on Kelpies lately. I think Koolies would be awesome, and they seem to be really healthy and long-lived from what I've read and generally a lot of fun. But Kelpies are easier to find, and seem maybe a bit sharper and less... goofy? More like ACDs, which I love (but want to avoid a high chance of DR/DA/SSA.)
 

Romy

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#19
I do like smooth collies. I'm not sure if they are exactly what I want in all arenas, but I'm sure they could get the searching jobs done. They seem like nice dogs.

In trying to find a potential herder that works for me I've been reading up on Kelpies lately. I think Koolies would be awesome, and they seem to be really healthy and long-lived from what I've read and generally a lot of fun. But Kelpies are easier to find, and seem maybe a bit sharper and less... goofy? More like ACDs, which I love (but want to avoid a high chance of DR/DA/SSA.)
You could get a merle and not tape his ears. :p

This is Tucker with baby Strider, many years ago.

 

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