Top Ten Notable Police Dog Breeds

Top Ten Notable Police Dog Breeds

the cutest police dog
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The Cutest K-9 Puppy

Curious about what dogs are used in police forces? Our top selection of police dog breeds could have been entitled ‘top ten smartest dog breeds’ too. As you are about to see, these specialized dogs have been widely used in law enforcement since the Middle Ages due to their amazing abilities. The profile of such dog is what makes it ideal for police work. Not only they have an incredible sense of smell, and are aggressive enough to detain suspects, but they are also very intelligent.

Police Dog Breeds: A Short Intro

Police dog breeds are also known as K9 dogs in North America. The beginning of training them for protection and ‘policing’ was tracked in the 12th century England. The first training of a police dog is attested in the late 19th century Belgium, although dogs had been used in law enforcement in the 14th century France. The police dog breeds service introduced by Belgian police spread in Continental Europe in countries such as Austria, Germany and Hungary.

However, the first training school for police dogs opened in Germany, in 1920. The ideal breed selected by German officers was, of course, the German Shepherd Dog, which remained a favorite even today.

The first job of police dogs was that of protection. Soon after agents have acknowledged their capacities other than strength, such as agility and extraordinary sense of smell, they have become regular companions in rescue and tracking missions.

What Kind of Tasks Do Police Dog Breeds Perform?

There is a significant number of specialties K9 dogs are trained for, ranging from substance detection to cadaver sniffing. Here is a short list of tasks police dog breeds can perform:

  • Detecting illicit substances like drugs or explosives. Most popular substance detection dog breeds are: Beagle, English Cocker Spaniel, Belgian Malinois, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd Dog.
  • Detecting decomposing bodies. Most popular corpses-sniffing dogs: Beagle, Labrador Retriever, Bloodhound
  • Tracking lost items or persons. Popular tracking police dogs breeds: Bloodhound, Coonhound, Australian Shepherd, German Shorthaired Pointer.

How are Police Dogs Trained?

In the US today, police dogs are trained to respond to two types of alerts when it comes to the odor they need to detect. According to the K-9 Unit of Summerville Police Department, these signals correspond to the types of dog breeds police agents use: passive (non-aggressive) and active dogs.

The ‘passive alert’ is for non-aggressive canines that are used to detect explosives. While smelling the odor they are trained to detect, these police dogs are required to sit.

Alternatively, ‘the aggressive alert’ is common among dogs that are trained to scratch and bark at the item containing the substance they are specialized in. These police dogs are used in narcotic detection.

Top 10 Selection of Police Dog Breeds
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Now, let’s take a look at the best trainable police dog breeds used worldwide to enforce public order. They are arranged alphabetically.

American Pit Bull Terrier – Attack Dog

Strong Points: Solidly build, the American Pit Bull Terrier dog makes for one of the most popular police and military attack dogs. Among their most important characteristic are strength, energy, and agility. They are also incredibly smart dogs.

Used for: tracking missing objects or persons; search & rescue interventions; protection.

Beagle – Illicit Substance Detection Dog

Strong Points: Known ascent hounds, Beagle dogs belong to one of the best detection dog breeds used in police enforcement. Their sense of smell is so incredibly developed that they can smell human remains under running water.

Used for: tracking is the specialty of Beagles. They are also search & rescue dogs.

Belgian Malinois

Strong Points: this 135 years dog breed is the second most popular breed of police dogs in the US after the German Shepherd Dog. Actually, a Beligian Malinois is a smaller version of a German Shepherd, well known for its endurance, agility and speed.

Used for: arson & narcotics detection; human tracking; transporting prisoners; search & rescue missions.  

Bloodhound – Tracking Dog

Strong Points: known for its excellent sense of smell, a Bloodhound is one of the best dog a police agent can use in tracking work.

Used for: locating explosives; odor-specific sniffing.

Doberman Pinscher – Attack Dog

Strong Points: This is a very powerful and athletic dog breed, exceling in agility. Dobermans are also known as obedient dogs which makes them popular police dogs. Not as well trainable as the German Shepherd breed representatives, these dogs are very adaptable and attentive.

Used for: They are mainly used for protection or as attack dogs.

Dutch Shepherd – Attack Dog

Strong Points: The Dutch Shepherd is a versatile dog breed. They are extremely adaptable to harsh conditions which makes them ideal for heavy training.

Used for: attack & protection; search & tracking.  

English Springer Spaniel – Detection Dog

Strong Points: The English Springer Spaniel is one of the smartest dog breeds. They are also very friendly and obedient, although not as strong and agile as an attack dog. Still, they are known for their alertness, exceptional sense of smell and stamina. For this reason, they make for great companions and sniffer dogs.

Used for: explosive & drugs detection.

German Shepherd Dog – Multi-Purpose Police Dog

Strong Points: this police dog belongs to the smartest dogs breeds out there. For its keen intelligence and size, the German Shepherd Dog has been widely used in police forces since the WWI. This popular breed is known to be 200 years old.

Used for: crowd control; illicit substance detection; tracking human remains.

German Shorthaired Pointer – Tracking Dog

Strong Points: The German Shorthaired Pointer is a dog breed of sporting dogs. They are tough and very active. That is why these police dogs require a lot of attention and exercise. The most important abilities that make them a popular large dog breed is intelligence, resilience, obedience and reliability. As they are very tenacious, training them is easy and effective.

Used for: human & evidence tracking (both ground & air-based);

Labrador Retriever – Detection Dog

Strong Points: commonly known as amazing domestic pets, these police dogs are very intelligent, obedient, but also playful. Due to their good work ethic and sniffing abilities, these dogs are widely used in police work. They are also good swimmers and can tolerate low temperatures and harsh conditions for an extended amount of time.

Used for: Labrador Retriever dogs typically work in explosive detection due to their high level of tractability. They are also used in water rescue and cadaver detection.

I hope our post proves useful and informative. If you enjoyed reading it or have any questions, ideas and suggestions, please don’t hesitate to leave a message in the comment section below. Cheers!

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