Top 10 Best Police Dogs – History, Types, Retired Police Dogs and more!

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Best Police Dogs

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When you read ‘Police Dogs’, you subconsciously think of these dogs to be different and highly skilled from the rest. You are correct. Police dogs are special and highly skilled from other domestic dogs.

All dogs are unique in their own way and as a dog family, all dogs possess some basic skills. All dog breeds are loyal, protective, alert, and have a special sense of smell. But police dogs are the ones who get specially trained to work with the police force in helping them solve crimes.

The dogs require to perform different duties and all dogs have different characteristics. Therefore, some breeds are perfectly suited to perform these duties.

Below is a list of the best police dogs, keep scrolling to know everything interesting about the best and very popular police dogs.

What Do Police Dogs Do?

Police dogs have incredible working abilities. What separates them from the rest of the crowd is their willingness to work and assist the officers. These dogs also have immense determination to fight crime or solve a task at hand.

These dogs or breeds of dogs are naturally skilled, but they get special training to further enhance those skills. The training helps them to be trained in that field and develop their prowess.

These trained dogs then assist the police and law-enforcement officers. Their job involves search and rescue tasks, searching for drugs as well as explosives, finding evidence from a crime, and more.

There are some breeds that are well-known for being used as police dogs or K9 police dogs (K-9 is a homophone for canine). The Bloodhound, German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, Rottweiler are some of the very popular police dog breeds.

These dogs are used by the K-9 unit (a specialized group of law enforcement personnel or officers). These dogs undergo training and depending upon their skills and working ability they are used to carry out complicated tasks.

They are also divided into groups of single-purpose and dual-purpose dogs. Single-purpose dogs are given only one task to perform focusing on their main skills. Whereas dual-purpose dogs are trained to carry out multiple tasks.

History of Police Dogs

The relationship between man and dog has changed over the centuries and ever since dogs are used for many purposes. Even before the police dogs or training for police dogs was a thing, dogs were used as guards and attack dogs in the law enforcement workplace.

It all formally started in 1899 in Belgium and only in the 1970 police dogs gained popularity in America working in police departments. Both male and female dogs were used in the police department as police dogs or service dogs.

During World War II, the K-9 dogs and K-9 units came into existence and were officially recognized. These dogs were of great help during this time they joined soldiers on patrol duty, worked as scouts, and alerted soldiers of enemies nearby.

Large dog breeds served as guard and attack dogs like the bulldog and mastiff-type dogs. The Bloodhounds used to hunt down criminals during the Middle Ages.

From the middle ages to wars and till today police dogs have evolved and their serving purpose has only enhanced. If counted in the number of years, dogs have been serving and working with law enforcement agencies from 100 years or more.

Types of Police Dogs

1. Tracking Dogs

Tracking dogs are capable of using their incredible sense of smell and hunt down criminal suspects. These dogs have a heightened sense of smell and their inhuman capabilities can track down anything.

Their tracking skills are very useful for the detection of drugs or explosives or even finding missing people.  These police dogs in training go through years and years of practice and learning which makes their sensing abilities flawless.

There are many physiological mechanisms involved in a dog’s ability to track a scent. The capability of dogs to follow and track a scent is also known as olfactory ability.

These special dogs’ abilities of scent tracking have helped law enforcement agencies beyond belief. Bloodhound, German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois are some of the best tracking dogs.

2. Detection Dogs

Detection dogs also use their olfactory organs (sense of smell) to detect substances. They are also known as ‘Sniffer Dogs’. These dogs are excellent at detecting explosives, finding illegal drugs, etc.

They can also detect electronics such as illegal mobiles. These dogs are also further divided into search and rescue groups. Search dogs are great at finding missing persons and rescue dogs have the ability to rescue humans in distress.

These dogs are a great catch to work with the law enforcement teams and after their training, they become official police dogs. Some of the best sniffer dogs are Bloodhound, Basset hound, and Beagles.

3. Attack Dogs

Attack dogs were previously used for attacking targets. These dogs undergo special training and learn how to attack targets that pose a threat.

Attack dogs are now used for personal protection to defend humans especially the police officers from attacking persons. These dogs also guard a territory or property and defend attackers on their land.

In the past, attack dogs were used in battles and as watchdogs to alert the soldiers of any enemy attack. Now, these brave daredevils are used in the police force, military and security roles. Some of the best attack dogs are Rottweiler, Bullmastiff and German Shepherd.

4. Cadaver Dogs

Last but also the most important type of police dogs are the cadaver dogs. A cadaver dog is a dog who can detect or trace human remains, dead bodies. These dogs are excellently trained to smell death.

To be able to smell death specifically means to be able to smell decomposition of a body. After death as all bodies decompose there is a certain smell that comes from the body or all the body organs. Cadaver dogs are trained to smell these decomposed body parts, blood, tissue, etc.

By their innate sense of smell added with the high-quality training, the cadaver dogs’ sense and track down the dead. Dogs with a good nose, high-drive and focus make great cadaver dogs. The breeds include American Pit Bull Terrier, Beagle, Belgian Malinois.

Top 10 Best Police Dogs

1. German Shepherd

German Shepherd Dog Police dog

When we think of the best police dogs, the German Shepherd comes to our mind as the first best police dog. This dog has every quality that fulfills the criteria of being a great police dog.

The German shepherd is the most favored dog breed by the police force and military across the world. Their trainability, aggression, intelligence sets them apart from the rest of the dogs. The GSD is very intelligent, fearless and fast.

These dogs are born with these qualities and when they undergo training that only makes them more powerful. Even their ability to detect drugs and explosives is unmatched. 

The German shepherd is mostly favored by the police force and military because of its dual-purpose capabilities. They can be used for performing not one but multiple tasks and they excel at each one of them.

These dogs are strong and fierce their average life expectancy is around 9-13 years. They weigh almost 60 to 88 pounds and they are 1.8 to 2 feet tall.

Did You Know?
A German shepherd popularly known as ‘Strongheart’ initially trained as a police dog, was the first dog to star in movies. 

2. Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois Dog

The next in line is the Belgian Malinois. The Belgian Malinois is pretty similar to the German Shepherd. They not only share distinctively similar looks their personality and qualities are similar as well.

These two dogs have all the potential to start a heated argument about which one is better. Malinois is a smart, loyal, protective, and very alert dog. It is also a herding dog breed (herding dogs make great police dogs).

This dog is unarguably the best with the highest energy levels. They are always alert and active. These dogs are also great sniffer dogs and can track down possibly anything.

This dog is ideally not suitable to be a pet for two reasons. One, their energy is incredible and their owners may find it difficult to keep up with their energy. Two, keeping them as pets is depriving them of their natural potential suitable to serve as police dogs.

Their average life expectancy is around 14 to 16 years. They weigh 60 to 80 pounds and stand tall at 1.7 to 2 feet.

Did You Know?
A Belgian Malinois police dog, named Diesel, was killed in the Paris terrorist attacks in November 2015.

3. Bullmastiff

Bullmastiff police dog

The Bullmastiff is a fast learner, very powerful, strong, muscular, and also sensitive. The bullmastiff is cross-bred by using the bulldog and the mastiff-type dog. It thus inherits the genes and qualities of both the breeds.

The mixed inheritance makes the bullmastiff more powerful and perfect for working with the police force. These dogs are great at locating things as their tracking skills are just on point.

They can sniff out drugs, heavy explosives, evidence from a crime scene, suspicious entities and much more. These are also great watchdogs and they can sniff of any threat that comes close to their owner or their area.

The lifespan of bullmastiff is around 8 to 10 years. They are huge and heavy giants and weigh as high as 110 to 1300 pounds. They are also tall and at the shoulder level, they are 2 to 2.1 feet tall.

The Bullmastiff does not need special training to become police dogs, they naturally possess all the qualities of a police dog.

4. Rottweiler

Rottweiler police dog

Rottweilers are very fierce and strong dogs. They are alert, watchful, and very brave. Rottweilers love action and adventure and this makes them perfectly suitable to fight crime.

If trained well rottweilers can also be great attack dogs. Their bite and grip are wide and deep which cannot be shaken off easily. Rottweilers are mostly used in investigation groups to solve crimes.

Rottweilers also have varied characteristics that make them great police dogs. They are eager to work, very obedient, devoted and have a very high-intensity of alertness.

Rottweilers are used a lot in public enforcement groups to alert and protect the officers from any danger. This sturdy beast can be great as a domestic pet and be a smart watchdog. They are loving and very loyal.

A Rottweiler’s life expectancy is around 8 to 10 years. They weigh 100 to 130 pounds and are 2 to 2.3 feet tall.

The movie “Show Dogs” which involved a police dog called Max was a Rottweiler.

5. Doberman Pinscher

Doberman Pinscher Police Dog

The Doberman Pinscher, also known as just ‘Doberman’ is a great guard dog. The Doberman happily serves the police force in their security activities and accompanies as guide dogs.

The Doberman is also used by the police on search and rescue missions. This dog is a powerhouse packed in a long and petite body. These dogs are bold, muscular and powerful.

Their appearance and body-built may be thin but their courage and dedication are beyond their looks. They have sharp ears that are erect which implies how alert these dogs are.

The Doberman is also a speedy runner. Their super-fast speed is almost unmatched. Once the Doberman chases something it will only stop when its mouth is on it.

The Doberman pinscher is also a great domestic dog. Its life expectancy is 10 to 14 years. They weigh almost 60 to 80 pounds and stand tall at 2 to 2.3 feet.

The Doberman Pinscher is a war hero. In 1944, Kurt, a Doberman was the first dog ever who lost his life in a battle during World War II.

6. Dutch Shepherd

Doberman Pinscher police dog

Dutch Shepherd is basically a German Shepherd who is Dutch. This breed is called the Dutch Shepherd because of its Dutch roots. This is a working dog and belongs to the herding group.

Dutch shepherds are loyal, independent, and smart dogs. They appear to be scary, thanks to their grey-gold stripped coat. They compared a lot with the German shepherd but they are also more and faster and versatile than the GSD.

They are immensely loyal to their pack and so are they with their human handlers. They are very strong, courageous and determined. The Dutch shepherd is also very reliable and obedient. They come with a lot of energy and readiness to work.

As police dogs, they are excellent watchdogs and very trainable. In a family, they are the same and they prove to be great domestic dogs as well. Their lifespan is around 13 to 15 years, they weigh 65 to 88 pounds and are 1.8 to 2 feet tall.

The Royal Dutch Police Dog Association, in the Netherlands, has trained many Dutch Shepherds since 1907.

7. Boxer

Boxer police dog

The boxer is a famous police work dog. The boxer breed has a face and expression that represents alertness, all the time. They are great watchdogs. These dogs are also great at hunting prey and serve good as attack dogs.

Their body is well-muscled and robust. They have dropped or folded ears that stand-up when they are alert. They also have a docked tail. The boxer breed can also be great as cadaver dogs.

This breed has a long history of looking out for humans and administering as police dogs and even war dogs. This canine is very loyal and determined and will always achieve what it seeks.

They also make as great house pets and are absolutely lovable pet dogs. Their life expectancy is 10 to 15 years. They weigh a good 50 to 70 pounds and are up to 2 feet tall.

The Boxer dog breed was used as Police dogs in Germany even before the beginning of World War I, which is before 1914.

8. Bloodhound

Bloodhound police dog

If we made a list exclusive of “best tracking dogs” the Bloodhound will top the list. The bloodhound has a nose that can smell and mark anything that crosses its path.

These dogs have very intense tracking skills. If a human has a great sense of smell they are often quoted as “he/she has a nose of the hound “and this is exactly how great their olfactory organs are.

The bloodhound is without a doubt the best smell-sensitive dog. It has as many as 300 million sensory or smell receptors that make him the best of the lot. These dogs are of great help in tracking down missing people or even dead bodies.

When the toughest of a situation (case) arrives, the police may turn to a Bloodhound to sniff it out. Their sense of smell can track a smell from miles apart and their incredible focus makes them the best tracking dogs.

They have a lifespan of 8 to 10 years and they weigh 80 to 100 pounds with a height of 1.8 to 2.1 feet.

A Bloodhound can help the police to track down missing humans and it can smell their scent even after many days of their presence in that area.

9. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever Police Dog

The most popular dog in the US, the Labrador Retriever is not just a great family dog but also a great police dog. Labrador Retrievers are very versatile and have many qualities in one.

An overall well-balanced dog, the Labrador is short and strong, athletic, and fun-loving. They are also good sniffers and have decent tracking abilities. Labradors as police dogs in training can turn out to be exceptional as police work dogs.

It also has a great reputation as hunting dogs good at hunting small games. This is why they are well-known as detection dogs because they can detect and retrieve any object.

They are very fast learners and a Labrador Retriever can practically be taught anything. Without a doubt, they are the best dual-purpose dogs. Their life expectancy is 10 to 13 years, they are 70 to 80 pounds heavy and about 2 feet tall.

A Labrador retriever as a police dog is the best dual-purpose dog good at detecting, sniffing and sometimes as attack dog too.

10. German Shorthaired Pointer

German Shorthaired Pointer police dog

The last one on our list is the well-built medium to large sized dog breed the German Shorthaired Pointer. This pointer breed has specialized hunting skills. Purely a hunting dog the German Shorthaired Pointers are also great police dogs.

If a dog specializes in hunting is there a doubt that whether it can serve well to the police force? well, of course not. This athletic breed has all that makes it suitable to work as a police dog.

They are high on energy, they love running, they have good hunting skills which makes them good on the “alertness” level. As they have long and solid legs, they are good at running and rapid in movement.

This quality makes them great chasers and love the chasing activities, they are very great trackers and detectors as well. They also make as great alert and alarmed guard dogs.

The German shorthaired pointer has a lifespan of 12 to 14 years and weighs 55 to 70 pounds. They are about 2 feet tall

Pina, a female German Shorthaired Pointer works with the Transportation Security Administration, USA in the canine explosives department.

Retired Police Dogs

Like us humans even working dogs reach a retirement age. Police dogs retire at the age from 6 to 9 years depending on their “fit to work” ability. These dogs work in a high-stress position and their jobs can be mentally and physically tiring.

As these dogs age their potential to work has police dogs reduces and they retire. Long back when there were no rules and regulations for retired police dogs these dogs used to be euthanized.

Fortunately, this isn’t the case now and retired police dogs are now sent back to their handlers. If their handlers are unable to foster them these dogs are then put up for adoption.

Civilians and dog-lovers can adopt retired police dogs. Not just the police dogs but there are rescue dogs for adoption as well. If you are looking for retired police dogs for adoption head over to mission k9 rescue and bring home one of these retired hero home.

We at Dog Is World request our readers to adopt a pet and not shop them. Adopting a retired police dog is just like a cherry on top. These intelligent, hardworking and fierce work dogs deserve a loving home at their older age.

The Bravery Corner

1. Conan, the Military Hero

Just last year, a dog named Conan who is a Belgian Malinois helped in chasing down an ISIS leader. Yes! You read that right a dog chased down an ISIS leader named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Now that’s some exceptional bravery stuff.

In the chase Conan got himself injured but he still managed to make it a successful one. He chased the ISIS leader down a dead-end tunnel. His act of bravery, agility and courage made him worth a visit to the White House.

On 25th November 2019, Conan visited the White House to meet President Donald Trump and was honored with a medal and a plaque.

2. Lucas The Savior

In a brave incident in Mississippi, a police dog saved the life of his police officer who was attacked by 3 unidentified persons on his patrol duty.

The deputy officer casually approached a car where the person seated in appeared unconscious. Two men attacked the deputy officer from behind and assaulted him along with the driver.

They hit him and dragged the officer into the woods where he was warned of getting stabbed. The officer somehow managed to get hold of the button on his keys that would release his canine from the patrol car.

As soon as the police dog was released, he ran inaction towards the three men and attacked them bravely. This fight led to the ligament tear of the dog along with several teeth on the ground. The attackers fled the scene.

This profound incident gave the dog named Lucas the prestigious ‘Hero of the year’ award by Hancock County Sheriff’s Department for his valiant efforts.

3. The Heroic Police Dog Who Survived 10-Inch Knife Attack

While chasing a robbery criminal, a German shepherd was attacked with a 10-inch knife in his lung along with his police officer partner who was saved by the dog on being attacked.

The brave dog had to undergo surgery and suffered a lot of pain for saving his master.

The dog was awarded a prestigious bravery award along with a PDSA gold medal–the highest award for civilian animal bravery.

4. Reno, the Arson Dog Hero

Reno was a Belgian Malinois who used to be an Arson dog. An arson dog means Accelerant Detection Canine. These dogs are specifically and highly trained for sniffing out any remains or traces of accelerants that probably started a fire.

Like humans these dogs can be considered as firefighters. Reno, was one such arson dog who served the State Police for 11 long years. Reno was a superhero for his handler Sargent Rinker.

Reno tirelessly served the police force and helped them solve numerous cases. He was trained to sniff out specific items and with his skills he successfully solved all cases at hand.

Without Reno’s efforts a lot of serious cases of arson and homicide would have gone to vain. This brave hero is no longer alive but his legacy remains and he will forever be remembered as a courageous hero.

Hello Readers,

That’s all about police dogs and the top 10 best police dog breeds. We hope this article provided you all the information about the brave hearts.

Did we inspire you to adopt a retired police dog? Will you go ahead and adopt one? Let us know in the comments section below.

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