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What Kind of Dogs Are Police Dogs?

Similar to human law enforcers, police dogs are a select type of dog. Animals that serve with police officers are impressive. They were bred from a lineage that performs complicated tasks required of police dogs. Serving with the police is not something every dog can do. What kind of dogs are police dogs? There are a few specific breeds that are highly trainable as police dogs.

Top 8 Breeds – What Kind of Dogs Are Police Dogs?

The police will require police dogs. One job of a police dog is to stop suspects from escaping. If these criminals escape, they help the officer in apprehending and making the arrest. It is not the entire story, though; these dogs can be utilized for various duties such as guarding, protecting, and tracking. These dogs are excellent at sniffing drugs and even human remains. The most common breeds for police dogs are the following:

German Shepherd

What Kind of Dogs Are Police Dogs

The German Shepherd is popular and the top choice for a police and military dog breed. German shepherds are versatile, have tons of energy, and rarely get tired. This breed is highly intelligent and trainable. They can pick up commands easily, which is crucial in police work. They exhibit courage and loyalty, which have been tested in the first world war. Back then, they worked as Red Cross dogs. These dogs were utilized to perform a wide range of tasks, including transmitting messages, assisting injured soldiers and civilians, guarding, and transporting supplies.

One of the top breeds used for the search and rescue during the tragic 9/11 terror attack was the German Shepherd. It worked tirelessly sniffing and rummaging through rubble for survivors. These dogs also provided comfort and company for those involved in rescue efforts.

Belgian Malinois

This breed is often confused with the German Shepherd. They are extremely similar to each other, but this breed is smaller and lighter in weight. Belgian Malinois make excellent police and military dogs. They have a strong work ethic and can accomplish various tasks, and learn quickly. They are responsive to commands. Similar to German Shepherds, this breed was first utilized in the first world war as a Red Cross dog. They were the first-ever police dogs that served with the Belgian police.

Dutch Shepherd

Dutch shepherds were originally utilized as herders. It is an athletic and intelligent breed that became well-known with the police and military during the rise of the industrialization era. There were fewer herding jobs for these dogs, and law enforcers utilized them instead. They have a strong skill set and high trainability, making them attractive as all-purpose police dogs. They are used across the world as search and rescue dogs.


What Kind of Dogs Are Police Dogs

Dobermans are not typically utilized as police or military dogs since they are high strung. But they are extraordinarily fearless and protective with tons of energy. Dobermans served in both world wars. Their main work was as a soldier’s assistant. They offered valuable search and rescue services. This breed searched for the wounded and alerted soldiers of landmines and enemies. They also served as sentries, guard dogs, as well as messengers.

During the second world war, the Dobermans were the top choice breed of the US Marine corps. They got the moniker devil dog of the Marines. But despite this name, they are tough and heroic dogs. They delivered crucial messages and supplies to those who need them. They also alerted soldiers to enemies and approaching strangers.

Specialist detection dogs

It should be noted that a dog’s nose is far more sensitive than a human nose. It is 2000 times more powerful. These sensitive snouts can follow human trails of people, identify drugs, bombs, as well as human corpses. In some cases, police dogs are specially trained as arson dogs. They can follow the trail scent of accelerants on arson sites.

If it isn’t enough, they are even utilized as cadaver dogs. They are efficient at detecting decomposing bodies. Dogs can sniff it out from any distance, even if the body is submerged underwater. They are helpful with detective work and help solve tough cases.


Beagles are one of the most powerful scenthounds around. Their sniffing power is utilized in airports to identify contraband and other illegal items such as weapons and drugs. They have a friendly look, which allows them to be inconspicuous in busy areas. Beagles are also the top choice as narcotics dogs because of their strong work ethic. They are also utilized in search and rescue. Because of their smaller size, they can navigate tight, remote areas that may be difficult to access for larger breeds and humans.


What Kind of Dogs Are Police Dogs

Bloodhounds have a powerful smell, unlike any other. They are one of the top choices for police dogs. Since they have high energy and can follow scent trails up to hundreds of miles away, these dogs are excellent at tracking criminals and search and rescue jobs.

As trivia, in some courts, the Bloodhound’s nose can be used as evidence. Data gathered from them is legally admissible.

English Springer Spaniel

This breed is highly intelligent and extremely agile. It is one of the well-known sniffer dogs utilized by the police and military. This breed is generally used for detecting bombs and drugs. There is even a case that an English Springer spaniel is so efficient at his job that a crime group put a bounty of 25,000 pounds on his head. This particular dog’s specialty was sniffing out illegal tobacco. In his five-year career, he was able to uncover several million pounds of this illegal stuff.

Labrador Retrievers

Labrador retrievers are one of the top choices for search and rescue missions. This dog can uncover explosives and drugs. They are also utilized as arson dogs. Labrador Retrievers are highly trainable, efficient, and quick to respond to the commands of their handlers. Because they were bred as hunters, they have a top-notch sniffing ability. But due to their friendliness, they are not suitable for protection work.


The breeds mentioned are just some of the military and police dogs commonly used. There are plenty of breeds that have made memorable contributions to law enforcement over the decades. These include Rottweilers, Golden Retrievers, and Border collies.

The Job of a Police Dog


One of the top jobs of a police dog is apprehending suspects. Police dogs are trained to attack suspects and control them. In many instances, they are on the front lines against armed suspects and shield their human owners. Breeds utilized for apprehension are herding breeds such as the German Shepherd and Dutch Shepherd. For several decades, herding breeds were developed for physical strength and intelligence. These traits are needed when working with their owners in herding livestock. These qualities can be used to restrain dangerous criminals. Herd dogs are stable dogs with the ability to judge when people and situations pose a threat. They will only act on the command of their handlers.


It is a fact that dogs have a superpowered sense of smell. Dogs have over 200 million scent receptors in their nose. Compare that to a humans’ 5 million. Their sniffing abilities were utilized to fight crime. In police work, dogs are trained to sniff out various drugs, explosives, and chemicals used in arson. They also work to get evidence at the crime scene. These dogs can be utilized anywhere and serve in airports and borders to search for explosives and illegal drugs. They also perform duties in large events to hunt for explosives and sniff civilian vehicles in checkpoints. Dogs in the military also serve to detect landmines to protect their handlers and other personnel from harm.

Search and Rescue

A majority of police work is to search and rescue victims. These may be people who are kidnapped, missing, or lost. When it comes to search and rescue, dogs are trained to find survivors and the remains of humans. They can sniff through layers of rubble after explosions, earthquakes, and other disasters. Dogs have enough endurance to cover large areas in search of lost hikers or someone buried in an avalanche. They can even sniff out bodies of drown victims in oceans and lakes. A dog’s ability to explore large areas in a short period is an excellent resource when searching and rescuing victims. Although their human counterparts play a crucial role as well, the services of a dog cannot be replaced. These dogs get the job done with precision.


Police dogs are also trained for tracking. Their powerful sense of smell is harnessed to follow the trail of suspects and missing persons. Tracking dogs require years of training and can hunt down even the most elusive criminal. Without the help of police tracking dogs, many suspects would have escaped from the law.

Cadaver Dogs

Although this job may seem gross, police dogs are also trained to find and uncover dead bodies. It is one of their essential functions in the police department. These dogs do this job excellently.

Frequently Asked Questions: What Kinds of Dogs Are Police Dogs?

Can my poodle breed dog be trained to become a police dog?

Although your poodle may be an awesome dog, it may not be an excellent fit as a police dog. Police dogs require unique and specific training. There are plenty of breeds of dogs that are utilized in police work. The breed often dictates the type of work they will be doing. The top choices include German shepherds and Belgian Malinois.

In some cases, Bloodhounds are also used since they are great for tracking. Beagles are excellent in detecting drugs. Police dogs are usually trained from puppyhood to learn crucial tasks for their job.

Where does a police dog end up when they retire?

Police dogs are often regarded as heroes. In many cases, they live with their human police officer handler. They have worked with this person for years and are considered family. It works well for both the human officer and the dog.

Can I donate my pet dog to the National Police Dog Foundation to be trained as a police dog?

In many cases, a law enforcement k9 unit will not accept dogs from private individuals. But it is worth contacting your local police to see if they have a need and if your dog matches their requirements.

Where do police agencies purchase police dogs?

A majority of police agencies will not have a budget for police dogs. In many cases, they are purchased via funds from corporate donations. Police agencies also require donations for the dog’s training as well as vet bills, nutrition, and training gear.

Do police dogs have a special diet?

In contrast to typical family pets, a police service dog is active and needs a diet to match their caloric needs and nutrient demands.

What will happen if a dog’s handler retires before the dog?

If the dog is still young, they might be retrained with a new police officer handler. They might also be allowed to live with the handler, depending on the dog’s age and circumstances.

Are police dogs spayed or neutered?

Female police dogs are often neutered to mitigate the effects of their heat cycle and medical benefits. In some cases, males may also be neutered for medical and behavioral reasons.

At what age is a police dog ready to work?

The youngest age a police dog can serve is between 12 and 15 months.

When is a police dog ready to retire?

Factoring their health status, they can be retired at about ten years of age.

What type of training do police dogs receive?

Police dogs are required to undergo patrol training. This training will include obedience, tracking, agility, and search and rescue. They will also be trained to detect narcotics and explosives. In some instances, they will be trained to track bodies, missing persons and aid the sick or elderly. They must also undergo scent discrimination training to match potential suspects to objects such as weapons or drugs in a crime scene.

Final Thoughts

If you are on the market for a new dog to add to your household, you might want to consider breeds utilized in police and military work. These dogs are proven to be highly intelligent and trainable. What kind of dogs are police dogs? Top choices would be a German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois. You might also want to consider scenthounds such as Beagles and Bloodhounds, which carry out crucial law enforcement work.

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