9 Amazing Police Dog Breeds (And What They Do)
Loyal. Intelligent. Brave. Protective.
As if we needed any more reasons to love dogs and these remarkable traits they possess, they’re also essential for keeping our communities safe.
Police dog breeds have been assisting law enforcement for more than 100 years and serve in many roles to stop crime and save lives. Also known as a K-9 (a play on the word “canine”), a police dog requires extensive training to ensure they have the right skills and personality for the job. The following breeds best fit the bill for a career on the force!
#1: German Shepherd
The regal German Shepherd is synonymous with police work. If you’ve ever seen a dog alongside a law enforcement official at an airport or train station, there’s a good chance it was one of these doggos.
German Shepherds are renowned for their poised disposition, high trainability, and exceptional dog intelligence—the perfect recipe for a variety of police roles such as smelling contraband and locating natural disaster victims. Their abilities and strong work ethic also shine in other important jobs, as these pups are popular military and service dogs.
#2: Belgian Malinois
With tall, pointy ears and a muscular build, it’s easy to mistake a Belgian Malinois for a German Shepherd! The Belgian Malinois tends to weigh a bit less and can be more excitable. While the breed’s high-strung nature might not seem like the best trait for police work, dogs who can control that energy make superb K-9 unit members.
With their natural athletic abilities and top-notch sense of smell, these furry friends thrive in jobs ranging from sniffing out explosives to apprehending criminals. The Belgian Malinois also reacts quickly, serving as reliable partners when situations get tense.
#3: Bouvier des Flandres
At first glance, the shaggy Bouvier des Flandres (pronounced boo-vyey-duh-flan-ders) might look more like an adorable cuddle buddy than a police dog breed. However, that double coat is hiding a burly, muscular body ideal for search and rescue work.
Excellent obedience and a docile temperament add to their skillset, as these even-keeled dogs are eager to assist their handlers. You’re more likely to find a Bouvier des Flandres on the force in Europe than the United States, but their incredible abilities can shine anywhere.
Bloodhounds are widely known for their powerful sense of smell, but do you know just how valuable this tool is? Their noses are so sensitive that Bloodhounds became the first animal whose evidence is legally admissible in some U.S. courts, according to Guinness World Records.
These dogs can follow scents for miles, which is an exceptional skill for tracking down missing individuals—including children since Bloodhounds are known to be calm around kids. They’re also recruited to match crime scene evidence to suspects; there’s no fooling a Bloodhound’s sense of smell!
#5: Dutch Shepherd
Yup, the Dutch Shepherd is a real breed! Although not as well known as other shepherd dogs, they are among the smartest and most alert K-9 dog breeds. Dutch Shepherds can learn on the fly and possess a strong work ethic, helping them excel at many police duties. Search & rescue and detection work headline this breed’s resume, although you shouldn’t be surprised to find Dutch Shepherds participating in dog sports and herding jobs as well. After all, they’re quick-witted athletes!
#6: Doberman Pinscher
It’s no surprise the strong and agile Doberman Pinscher was originally bred to be a watch dog. Today, many law enforcement units train them to catch fleeing criminals. Although Dobermans have a reputation for being tough, they’re highly disciplined and taught to apprehend without causing harm. Courageous and active, Dobermans are a reliable type of police dog that just about any department would be happy to welcome to the force.
#7: Labrador Retriever
Not only is this furry friend the most popular dog breed in America, but they’re also a top choice for K-9 assignments. Labrador Retrievers often assist law enforcement in areas that get a lot of foot traffic, helping to sniff out narcotics and other illegal items.
While Labs’ protective mindsets make them an effective police dog breed, there’s a more surprising reason they’re chosen for this kind of work. Many people don’t see these dogs as a threat due to their peaceful nature, which helps keep the public from feeling afraid when they’re walking through policed areas. Even in the line of duty, Labs keep us in good spirits!
You might not expect the hyper Beagle to be a model K-9 dog breed, but they have two superpowers: their size and their sense of smell. Beagles’ sensitive noses can locate drugs and food, which often comes in handy at customs agencies. Plus, their compact size helps them fit into tight spaces like security conveyor belts with ease. Beagles with a docile demeanor and willingness to obey commands are the best candidates for this job.
#9: American Pit Bull Terrier
Pit Bulls are the new pup on the block when it comes to law enforcement! Although these dogs display great confidence and strength, they have emerged primarily because of cost. Fully training a traditional police dog can cost upwards of $15,000, according to the National Police Dog Foundation. Many Pit Bulls, on the other hand, come from rescues—saving police departments money on fees yet offering the same key abilities as other breeds.
In addition to saving these dogs, employing them to protect the public helps negate Pit Bulls’ reputation as aggressive and dangerous pets. You can often find these pooches patrolling with officers or sniffing for illegal items.
To Paw-tect and Serve
The most effective types of police dogs come in all shapes and sizes, serving in a wide range of capacities. Even pups that might not come to mind when you think about police work possess special skills that help protect our neighborhoods. From your own loyal pup to the brave four-legged members of the force, dogs always stand by our side when we need them most!