Dogs have skills that enable them to assist humans. One particular example is the police dogs. The breeds of police dogs which are employed as K-9 officers are trained for different tasks such as patrolling, sniffing out bombs, curbing drug-trafficking, tracking and bringing down criminals, guarding handlers and civilians, and aiding in search and rescue operations.
Well, this is not a job for just any dog. Just as a human needs to be an extraordinary type of person to become a police officer, likewise, a dog must be a special type of dog to become a police dog. These impressive canines come from generations of dogs specifically bred and trained to perform the complicated tasks that police dogs are required to accomplish.
In history, police dogs have been introduced over a 100 years ago. The English used Bloodhounds on patrol during 1888, and in 1899 the Belgium Police began formally training dogs for police work. Using dogs for police work had gained popularity. In the year 1910 Germany had police dogs in over 600 of its cities. The US started using dogs in their K-9 unit by 1970’s.
The British and the Germans were the first to actively use dogs in police work after intense research, breeding and training. Decades later, when the security forces in other countries realised the immense help dogs provide, their police units started training dogs to help fight crime. Since then, the range of breeds of police dogs has been expanded.
But which dog breeds make the best police dogs? It’s no secret that German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Doberman Pinschers have been the most popular breeds of police dogs. But there are many other potential police dog breeds fit for police work with traits like intelligence, alertness, strength, obedience, trainability and loyalty. Let’s meet the police dogs, generally called K-9, which is a homophone of ‘canine’.
1. Belgian Malinois
The sharp Belgian Malinois is a world-class working dog which has been extensively used as a police dog in many countries. This handsome alert-looking breed resembles a German Shepherd Dog. Though they are usually a bit smaller than the GSDs, they have a quicker reaction time than the German Shepherd Dogs.
The Belgian Malinois is an active dog with an incredibly strong worth ethic. These dogs are good listeners and quick learners. They are loyal and easily please their handlers with proper training.
The Malinois are generally used to seize and bring down criminals, but also serve in other law enforcement tasks like narcotics or bomb-sniffing. Because they aren’t normally aggressive by default (German Shepherds are naturally more aggressive), this police dog breed makes an excellent candidate for police work and has become one of the most common breeds of police dogs in every country.
2. Cane Corso
Descendant of Roman war dogs, it’s only logical that this muscular Italian dog is used in the police task force. The breed’s name – ‘Cane Corso’ roughly translates from the Latin as ‘bodyguard dog’.
Additionally, the Cane Corso is closely related to the Neapolitan Mastiff. Attentive, lionhearted, strong, and extremely intimidating, the Cane Corso is a hardworking police dog who is perfect for protection, guarding and patrolling.
Like Dobermans, the Cane Corso dogs are known for their physical capabilities – although not as fast, they have one of the strongest bites of all dogs. This breed of police dog is highly intelligent, versatile, and loyal.
Currently, this majestic dog breed is not a very popular police dog breed. But the number of Cane Corso dogs as police officers will rise in the future due to their adaptability and working attitude. As with any other big guardian dog, responsible breeding and focused training is vital.
3. Giant Schnauzer
Originally, the Giant Schnauzer was raised to assist on farms to drive cattle and guard the local farmer’s property. The German dog breed gradually reached the cities where it worked as a guard dog. It became a popular military dog during the World War I and World War II.
This pretty large yet quiet dog breed is very suspicious of strangers, and therefore, has been working as a police dog for many years. However, they’re not often seen as police dog breeds in the US, and that’s only because they entered the profession much later than the other breeds of police dogs.
Giant Schnauzers are extraordinary trackers of suspects, missing persons, explosives, and narcotics. They are also used in search rescue because of their determination, loyalty, and unwillingness to give up.
Trivia : The idea of police dogs was born in the late 1800s in London, where Bloodhounds were used to trace the infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper.
4. American Pit Bull Terriers
This newest police dog breed scores a 12/10 for the intimidation factor. Smart, obedient, fearless and certainly imposing when patrolling, these macho-dogs are just now being rescued and recruited from local dog shelters.
The American Pit Bull Terriers were rarely employed as police dogs before due to their dogfighting history. However, the law enforcement realised their great potential and decided to give them a second chance.
Trained in obedience and responsiveness, the breed is primarily used for detection and patrolling. There are claims that the military also is looking into using this dog breed in the future for it is fearless, athletic, fast, and sturdy.
5. Dutch Shepherd
This brindle athletic dog breed finds its origins from Holland. The Dutch Shepherd dog has progressed from a herding dog to a working-class dog. Their brains make them easy to train, but only if the handler is willing to put in the time to keep them entertained.
Because of their herding past, the Dutch Shepherd dog has a lot of energy to burn. They are non-aggressive and learn commands quickly. Their stamina, alertness, keen instinct, and protective nature makes them a favourite choice as police dogs.
The Dutch Shepherd police dogs are used for tasks including odour detection from narcotics and explosives, and for tracking humans and suspects in police work.
Bloodhounds are the first dog breeds to start their career in the security forces due to their impressive sense of smell. They are ranked among one of the most popular breeds of police dog and picked as one of the top 10 best K-9 officers by law enforcement units themselves.
The Bloodhound is a fantastic tracker and one of the original police dog breeds. Large, intense, and masculine, this dog breed can pick up scent and track a missing person weeks after they have disappeared.
At the same time, it is funny that these dogs are a challenge to train due to being easily distracted by tempting scents. (Hey Sheriff! Sniff this. Wait, I sniff a squirrel. No, it’s bacon. No. No. No. It’s Daisy-my love. Wait! What’s this in front of my nose? Sneeze!!! Oopsie! That was drugs, officer.)
However, with consistent obedience training, these submissive dogs do great in detection and search operations in the police forces.
Bloodhounds are one of the old school dogs which are especially great when locating missing children because they don’t look intimidating or aggressive.
7. German Short-haired Pointer
The German Shorthaired Pointer is a friendly dog if you are the good guy. The highly intelligent dog is commonly known for its hunting skills. The breed had a changeover from being a hunting gun dog to a police dog.
Enthusiastic and bold, the German Shorthaired Pointer has long been used as tracking dogs by hunters due to their keen sense of smell and overall intelligence.
Non-aggressiveness and a strong willingness to please their owners are their main features, and that’s what makes the German Shorthaired Pointer easy to train and work with for police officers.
According to many interviews from their police officer handlers, these sturdy boys mean business.
The Boxers are war heroes. They are one of the most versatile dogs that have served in World War 1 and World War 2. In the wars, they were effective as guard dogs, patrol dogs and messenger dogs, serving shoulder to shoulder with their military officers.
These agile dog breeds specialised in transporting communication wires between troops. The spool of wire that was attached to their collar, and the wire unwound as the dog ran between certain points during the brutal war.
Loyal, stable, and sociable, the Boxer is still very popular and commonly used as K-9 officers for certain operations in the German police force.
Trivia : After completing the police training, the dog (and its handler) take the oath the same way as a human police officer would. The handler affirms on the dog’s behalf and the dog barks in affirmation of the oath.
Underneath the Briard’s long, shaggy coat lies an intelligent, confident, and loyal dog. The Briard is a very old breed of French purebred herding dog.
During the First World War, the French Army deployed the Briard as a sentry, ammunition carrier, messenger, medic dog, and to search for wounded soldiers. Today this dog breed is used in a large variety of roles such as police dog, military dog, watchdog, search and rescue work, service dog, and therapy dog.
Because of its agility, bold spirit, and alert personality, the Briard is used as a police dog breed in certain countries like France, Great Britain, Ireland, etc. At present, the Briard is most often used in police search and rescue missions, tracking, and PTSD service dogs.
This large French police dog has changed the way many people see working K-9 officers, and that’s because the Briard’s work is different from that of other breeds of police dogs.
10. Rajapalayam Dog
Undoubtedly the most famous and popular dog breed from India, the Rajapalayam is an Indian sighthound. Needless to say, they’re popular among the Indian Police force.
In particular, the Rajapalayams are employed as guard dogs at the borders of Kashmir by the Border Security Force (BSF)and Central Reserve Police Force(CRPF).
These large, swift and powerful dogs don’t like being handled by strangers. This unique trait makes them great for guarding.
Apart Rajapalayams, the Indian Police Force also uses German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Labradors, and Doberman Pinschers in different service areas of law enforcements.
Oh don’t let that size make you question their skill. Beagles are hounds with a big heart and an even bigger nose which is indeed their weapon to sniff out illegal substances.
Because of their powerful sense of smell, Beagles have been used in many situations that require sniffing in airports and harbours all over the world. In the United States alone, Beagles are responsible for seizing over 180,000 pounds of banned foods being smuggled into the country. Pawesome work, Sheriff!
Coming back to the size of Beagles, there are many advantages to these tippy-toes and droopy ears. They can reach smaller areas which a person otherwise can’t access. They can also be swift, while staying less detected and sneaky. Stealth-mode on!
12. Akita Inu
The Akita Inu is the national dog of Japan. This territorial dog breed is a courageous and protective dog breed currently serving in the Japanese police force.
Akitas are protective, which makes them excellent guard dogs for the service. These Japanese dog breeds are also exceptionally good at sensing danger or any suspicious behaviour.
Appropriate training and drill has transformed Akitas into Japan’s premiere police dogs. Their loyalty is a bonus for their handlers.
Currently, Akitas aren’t as popular as police dogs beyond Japan. But perhaps with the country leading the way, we may start to see Akita Inus more around the world’s police forces.
Honourable Credits: Breeds of Police Dogs
We are grateful to be protected by all our four-legged heroes. I feel proud to see countries all over the world to believe that these impressive breeds of police dogs can help law enforcement tremendously. Here are some more popular breeds of police dogs serving their nation with equal loyalty and courage:
- Airedale Terrier
- Springer Spaniel
- English Cocker Spaniel
- Bouvier des Flandres
- Basset Hound
- Border Collie
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