Illustrated Search & Rescue Temperament Test

Search & Rescue Temperament Test

Illustrated with Photographs of Litters from the Last 11 Years

So many people ask me how I determine which pup goes to which family and for what (working or pet) that I put together this explanation of one of the two temperament tests I have done on my pups to help me determine where each one should go. I began doing the Police Narcotics Test on my pups in 1997 and a few years later added the Search and Rescue Test.

The main difference I see between the police/narcotics test and the SAR test is the attitude of the tester. In the police test, the tester is very quiet, talking little and using very little body movements. No other people are present and the environment is kept quiet. In the SAR test, the tester (often two do the test together) is somewhat more enthusiastic, uses some verbal praise and body movements to get the pup “up” and gives praise. Other people are sometimes present to watch, though they are asked to be as quiet as possible. This would fit well with the ultimate purpose of the dogs being tested for both types of training. In police work the dog must be able to dig down deep inside himself or herself to find the courage and aggression to confront a criminal and/or to search independently and at great distance from the handler. In SAR the handler is usually closer to the dog and is able to praise and encourage him, especially in extended searches. There is also generally all kinds of activity and distraction at a search scene so the dog must be able to filter out the extraneous activity and focus on her job. Both tests are fascinating to watch as is the difference in the pups’ responses in each test.

Links to most of my litters’ test results (not illustrated) can be found on that litter’s page in the Past Litters section.  The tests evolve as we get new ideas of things to do, so every litter’s test will not be exactly the same.  


An explanation of each test is given with the photos: 

1. Attachment, Eye Contact, Confidence, Retrieve
2. Retrieve (continued), Perseverance, Tug
3. Tug (continued)
4. Metal Object, Prey Drive
5. Hunt for Toy
6. Pain Sensitivity, Unstable Footing
7. Submission, Cadaver
8. Runaway
9. Runaway (continued), Reaction to Strange Object
10. Wagon, Wheelbarrow
11. Fear (can), Surprise (umbrella)
12. Independence, Aggression/Courage
13. Hunt for Food I (food drag)
14. Hunt for Food II (good search)
15. Puppy Drag, Rating Summaries


see the illustrated Police Narcotics Temperament Test

see recent SAR test results:  OO Litter and PP Litter