Dogs are capable of being more than just man’s best friend. By their very design, they can assist people in multiple ways, including policing and protective services. But not every dog can work alongside law enforcement officers. Only certain breeds can fulfill the responsibilities required of a dog in this line of duty.
Ideally, a police dog should be physically fit, large and muscular. Depending on the specific requirements of the police dog’s position, it is desirable for him to have intensity, hyperfocus, patience, and a high-working drive.
Police dogs are often divided into two categories: general purpose and special detection.
General purpose dogs are used primarily for searching and tracking. They chase after fleeing suspects and hold them in place until their police officer partner arrives. These dogs also excel at tracking drugs, evidence, and human remains.
Special detection dogs are trained to locate specific, exclusive items, such as guns, bombs, and other explosives. A trained special detection dog can sniff out specific scents, as its nose is roughly 10,000 times better than a human’s nose.
Here are 6 of the best police dog breeds who encompass these traits.
1. German ShepherdThe German Shepherd breed has traditionally been associated with the popular image of a police dog, and for a good reason. This breed is highly versatile and charismatic, as well as extremely smart. They often form strong bonds with their handlers.
Perhaps what the German Shepherd is most prized for is his drive. The breed is well-known for its hyperfocus and prey drive, a reason why some of them are not a good mix with small pets in a home. However, this drive is critical when chasing suspects, or searching for survivors in earthquakes or avalanches.
2. Belgian Malinois
Also known as the Belgian Shepherd dog, the Belgian Malinois is a sleeker, smaller version of the German Shepherd. As such, this breed is often selected for police work because of its similarities to the German Shepherd.
The Belgian Malinois is lighter weight, can work to an older age, and has a better, more square build than the German Shepherd. Malinois are used primarily for arson detection, narcotics detection, and tracking for search and rescue missions.
3. Belgian TervurenWith a history of police work dating back to World War I, the Belgian Tervuren is another shepherd breed whose energy, intelligence, and nose are often used to assist in law enforcement.
This dog breed is very companionable, but also emotionally sensitive and demanding of attention, especially during its youth.
The Belgian Tervuren has a high adaptability rate and is comfortable and eager to go into new situations and places. The breed is most often used for tracking fugitives and sniffing out drugs, but can also be used in search and rescue missions.
4. English Springer Spaniel
The English Springer Spaniel is a perfect example of the kind of dog trained to be a special detection dog. This medium-sized breed is energetic, outgoing, and loyal.
Known for its willingness and obedience, as well as its intelligence, the English Springer Spaniel is a highly trainable dog, making it perfect for police work.
As a special detection dog, this dog can quickly learn what is required of it. This breed is frequently used for bomb and explosive detection.
Although the Bloodhound won’t be seen chasing down a suspect anytime soon, it is still a breed highly sought and valued by police departments around the world. The reason why has to do with the Bloodhound’s incredible aptitude for tracking.
The Bloodhound is an excellent dog for detective work, and with the best sniffing capabilities of any breed, it’s easy to understand why law enforcement so values them.
This breed has a larger olfactory system, and their noses have more scent receptors than any other breed of dog. This fact alone explains why the Bloodhound is still a force in the police industry.
6. Labrador RetrieverAside from its easy trainability, reliability, and friendliness, the Labrador Retriever makes an excellent special detection dog because of its highly developed sense of smell. They are an ideal breed to work in search and rescue missions.
The Lab’s intelligence level matches his sniffing ability. Many police departments take advantage of the breed’s qualities and put it to use in sniffing out drugs and bombs. Labrador Retrievers also make excellent arson detection dogs.
There are other breeds of dog that police departments rely upon, but the above 6 are the most highly prized and sought after. The traits that police officers look for in a four-legged partner — drive, reliability, loyalty, and intensity — can easily be found in these dogs, making them the best breeds for police work.