Some dogs are content on being adorable companion pets while there are those that are bred for police work. The latter is a special breed of dogs, able to perform different tasks that their human counterparts can only dream of accomplishing. That said, canine police officers are one of a kind. They undergo very rigorous and demanding training. Only the toughest, most dedicated, and smartest hounds can ever get the chance to be called a canine crimebuster. Here are five of the world’s best breeds of dog that are cut out for police work.
The 5 Breeds of Dogs for Excellent Police Work
There’s no denying that the best dog breed for police, search and rescue, and military work is the German Shepherd. Almost every other K9 unit in the world has a GSD in their roster. From the police forces to those in elite military units and para-rescue organizations, the GSD is a versatile working dog. True, its original intention was to become Germany’s most prized herding dog. But this Von Stephanitz creation became a worldwide sensation because of its remarkable stories of bravery, loyalty, and strength.
German Shepherds have a graceful body and an unquestionable work ethic. These dogs have a very strong desire to work. They are very intelligent dogs, third only to the Border Collie and the Poodle. Teach them a trick and they will get it right the first time. They have this very intense desire to please their people, making them ideal for police work. German Shepherds are very trainable, strong, and biddable.
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This Belgian hound shares a lot of characteristics with the German Shepherd. Perhaps the only difference is the characteristic black and tan coat of the GSD. But don’t ever underestimate the Belgian Malinois when it comes to police work. As a matter of fact, SWAT teams and special military units prefer the Malinois over the GSD. Don’t believe us? Look at the grounds of the White House and you will see members of the US Secret Service patrolling the grounds with their Belgian Malinois.
The Chien De Berger Belge is a great all-around working dog. It is especially skillful when it comes to the detection of explosives, narcotics, and fire accelerants. This breed also does a fantastic job as a tracker, often employed in pursuit operations. And when it comes to search and rescue activities, the Belgian Malinois is at the top of the game.
Labradors have come a long way from being fishermen’s best friends. They have taken on a number of different roles from their early days as descendants of the St. John Water Dog in Canada. Today, Labrador Retrievers are not only darlings of American homes, they are excellent members of canine law enforcement units, too.
Labradors have the intelligence and the remarkable work ethic of a German Shepherd. But what separates the Labrador from other police dog breeds is that they have a gentler nature. True, police dogs have to be tough, but the Lab uses its gentle and kind demeanor to make potential troublemakers feel at ease. When you see security personnel with a GSD, you will almost always cower in fear. But if the same security personnel is tugging a Labrador along, you will feel at ease. Be forewarned, however. The Labrador is excellent when it comes to screening and detection.
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It may have a woeful sad look but the Bloodhound is king when it comes to tracking by law enforcement units. No other hound can match the tenacity and sheer tracking skill of the Bloodhound. A fugitive may have a head start of up to 130 miles, but the Bloodhound will never let up. No scent is ever too faint for the billions of olfactory receptors found in the Bloodhound’s nose.
Keep in mind that the Bloodhound is not only proficient in tracking fugitives and criminals. It is also very prolific when it comes to tracking missing people as well as lost pets. It is a law enforcer’s best tool when it comes to searching for anyone missing. It is relentless. Once it has locked-in on the scent it is tracking, there’s no way you can ever dissuade the Bloodhound. It will never stop until it is done with its job.
Rottweilers deserve to be in this list of the best dog breeds for police work even if they have had their share of bad publicity. A descendant of ancient Roman Army guard dogs, Rottweilers are rugged and dependable. They have this very strong guarding instinct that they obtained from their Roman forebears. It’s a Mastiff type of dog that is well-known for protecting livestock against wild animals and robbers.
The two World Wars of the 20th century saw the emergence of the Rottweiler as a trusted police, ambulance, guard, messenger, and draught dog. Today, Rotties serve in the police force while many others serve as members of search and rescue organizations. Rottweilers are intelligent dogs. They have a remarkable work ethic and discipline when it comes to performing the task at hand. This is a police dog that will never fail its partner.
Characteristics of a Good K9 Crime Fighter
Not all dogs are cut out to become excellent crime-fighters. If there is any takeaway in our list of the 5 best dog breeds for police work, then it would be that they all share a set of characteristics. It is these traits that set them apart from other breeds. It is critical that any K9 officer candidate should possess all of the following characteristics.
Without question, intelligence has to be a major factor in the determination of a breed’s suitability for police work. Canine intelligence translates to ease of training. And whenever we talk about dog training for police work, this is not your ordinary basic and advanced dog training course.
Each dog goes through the lengthy process of different aspects of law enforcement. In general, police dogs undergo training in suspect apprehension, contraband detection, and search and rescue. These are no ordinary feats where men and women who undergo similar training programs are known to fail.
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- Willingness to Work
A candidate police dog must show a willingness to work. It will never be happy idling by. They have this eagerness to please. We all know that dogs have an innate drive to please their owners. But the drive of police dogs is very different. They have this work ethic that matches that of their K9 handler. This is a very crucial characteristic of all police dogs. They must be willing to learn the ropes of the trade. They will always show interest in learning new things.
How else can you expect a police dog to subdue troublemakers if it doesn’t have the strength to do so? Police work can be a very physically-demanding job. Obviously, you cannot expect dogs to lift objects but you can always count on them to take down a fleeing fugitive.
Police work is never for the weak of heart. And that is true for the canine units of elite police departments. These dogs must be fearless whenever they go out in the field. The last thing you need when faced with a life-and-death situation is a dog that is so skittish, it would rather stay in the squad car than do its job.
Running after fugitives or other troublemakers requires tremendous stamina. Police dogs have to have that staying power to allow them to fulfill their duties without question. Dog breeds that are cut out for police work have to have remarkable endurance if they want to last in the game.
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- Sense of Smell
Part of the job of a police dog is sniffing potential threats. And with a sense of smell that is more than 30,000 times more sensitive than the human nose, dogs make excellent sniffers or contraband detectors. They can detect very faint chemical signatures. Hounds are also perfect for tracking fugitives who may have had a head start of several days.
Police dogs do not work on their own whenever they are on duty. They always have a partner with them – their canine handler. These well-trained human members of the police force undergo more rigorous training than their canine counterparts. They must form a team. Hence, a good police dog is one that responds well to the commands of its human handler.
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All dogs that are worthy of a position in the police force should have a very strong focus on any given task. They should never get distracted. Many of these canine law enforcers work in environments that ordinary dogs will have problems trying to focus on a single task. There will be instances when explosions and small arms fire will distract the concentration of a dog. But a true canine detective will always zero-in on the task at hand and disregard other non-important events.
Police dogs are a special breed. They have to be intelligent, responsive, very focused, fearless, and strong. They also need to have a work ethic that is unquestionable and unparalleled. Plus, their endurance and keen sense of smell put them well above the rest.
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- The Beginning of American K9 Units: A Brief History – National Law Enforcement Museum
- Product Feature: K-9 Units: Training and Protection Key to Keeping Dogs and People Safe – The Police Chief