Lifeguard dog on Beach in Italy

Lifeguard Dogs: Italy’s Air and Seaborne Rescuers

Canine heroes come in all types and sizes – whether they be therapy dogs, in the military, or family guards. In this case, we focus on a troupe of them who act as rescue guards.

Rising to the challenge, the world’s first air and sea dog rescue team jump from helicopters into the ocean. These lifeguard dogs rescue tourists who have found themselves in perilous situations.

Ferruccio Pilenga founded the Italian School for Lifeguard Dogs in 1988, after training his own Newfoundland dog to rescue people. He believes canines make ideal lifeguards, as they can remain calm and choose the safest path through the water to the distressed person These dogs undergo around 18 months of intensive training to learn rescue techniques and how to jump from land and air vehicles.

The organisation now has 30 instructors and 10 bases. Many of this team consists of Newfoundland dogs – a breed which has deservedly gained the nickname ‘The Lifeguard Dog’. Strong and with a lot of stamina, these dogs are able to rise to the task of pulling someone out of perilous waters. Along with bravery and strength, Newfoundlands possess a calm and loyal temperament, which makes them ideal for this kind of work.

Newfoundlands also love the water – their webbed paws give them the propulsion to swim and save people fast. Not only do they jump from up high, but these lifeguard dogs also patrol the water in boats, to monitor the safety of swimmers. 

It is thanks to these heroic hounds, and those who run the training courses and operations that he Italian coast guard can save around 300 people from drowning every year. 

Looking for something great to treat your dog with? Try our monthly themed boxes!