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Home > Dogs > 12 Top Police Dog Breeds: Pictures, Facts & History

12 Top Police Dog Breeds: Pictures, Facts & History

german shepherd police dog

Among the amazing things canines are capable of, one of their most valuable skills is learning police force tasks. They help our law enforcement officers by accomplishing things humans cannot. They use their sense of smell, brute strength, and intellectual thought processes to save lives, control crime, and find individuals.

You might be very familiar with some of these breeds, but did you know there are more than a dozen police dog breeds that serve? Let’s find out about these remarkable canines.


The 12 Top Police Dog Breeds

1. German Shepherd

police officer with his german shepherd
Image Credit: VAKS-Stock Agency, Shutterstock

The German Shepherd is a herding breed created by Von Stephanitz in the 19th century. They became the 60th breed added to the AKC in 1908. Since their modest beginning, they have become one of the most popular dogs to exist.

History in the Police Force The German Shepherd is one of the most valuable police force and military breeds the world over. They have only grown in the field, being arguably the most prevalent police dog today.
Necessary Characteristics  German Shepherds have optimal intelligence, terrific stamina, and willingness to work. They performed tasks as working dogs for so long that it is deeply embedded in their DNA to have a job to do. This task mentality serves officers very well in terms of canine training.
Police dogs need to be able to snap to the command every time without failure. Because of this incredible intellect and physical capability, these dogs are absolutely up to the challenge.
Areas of Expertise German Shepherds are fantastic in a variety of different fields. Many task forces use these dogs to sniff out drugs, chase criminals, and even aid in search and rescue missions.

2. Belgian Malinois

belgian shepherd malinois dog
Image Credit: Sashulity, Shutterstock

The physically striking Malinois was bred for work, work, work. They look very much like their German Shepherd cousins but are lighter and faster on their feet. They were originally herding dogs but have broadened their roles in therapy, service, shows, and special forces work.

History in the Police Force Because of the extraordinary abilities of the Malinois, they are versatile enough to work in the military, police force, and other special operations. They are increasing in numbers for K9 units, nearly surpassing the once-favored German Shepherd.
Necessary Characteristics  The impressive Malinois is an energetically capable, extremely high-energy dog that needs training to the utmost degree. They soak all of the knowledge and training up like a sponge, making them ideal for any police for military work. They are agile, loyal, and highly obedient with trainers.
Areas of Expertise The Malinois can be used in virtually any arena. But they typically have the very extreme duty of sniffing out explosives, finding contraband and other paraphernalia, and even locating accelerants.

3. Bloodhound

Bloodhound dog being worked on a track in a harness
Image Credit: NSC Photography,Shutterstock

Bloodhounds are masters in their field. They have the best noses in the canine world. This breed is the ultimate tracking dog, using its keen sense of smell to find anything you direct them to.

History in the Police Force These professional trackers have quite a rich history of helping hunters and officers alike. Many old prisons would use Bloodhounds to track escaped prisoners.
Necessary Characteristics  Bloodhounds are experts with scent tracking—a skill that is unmatched. Their laidback nature makes them easy to work with, showing great focus and determination. These dogs are relaxed and calculated, making them receptive to specific task training.
Areas of Expertise Because of their unrivaled sense of smell, Bloodhounds help officers track missing people or criminals.

4. Belgian Shepherd

Policeman with Belgian shepherd police dog
Image Credit: wellphoto, Shutterstock

The Belgian Shepherd greatly resembles their cousins, the German Shepherd. However, these dogs sport a longer coat that hangs heavily around the neck and underbelly. They were initially given herding jobs, shaping the needed work ethic for a wider range of duties.

History in the Police Force Belgian Shepherds have been used in the military, including both World Wars. They are also ideal candidates for police work in many forms. They are still used in forces all over today.
Necessary Characteristics  Belgian Shepherds are obedient, agile, and responsive. Their thick coats also make them perfect for work in colder climates. Because of their intelligence and hardiness, they are prime candidates for officers.
Areas of Expertise Generally, Belgian Shepherds are used as search and rescue dogs as well as for crowd control purposes.

5. Doberman Pinscher

angry dangerous doberman dog protection
Image Credit: Kseniia Kolesnikova, Shutterstock

Doberman Pinscher is a large, physically impressive dog with an incredible knack for learning. This German breed carries traits that make them ideal for guarding and protecting.

History in the Police Force Because of their incredible mental ability and physically intimidating looks, they were elected to control or attack rioters in the 1960s. Dobermans have been a smart choice for K9 forces in the United States as well as other countries.
Necessary Characteristics  Dobermans are fantastic protectors, and they respond to commands on the snap of a finger. They do not hesitate once they’re given a command. If you provide them with direction, you can bet they’re going to fulfill their duty. They have a very threatening look with erect ears and muscular bodies.
Areas of Expertise Doberman Pinschers have all of the characteristics needed to be a police dog. However, they are less desirable because they lack a solid undercoat. In certain weather conditions, that means they can get very cold quickly and might not perform as well as other canines.

6. Labrador Retriever

Labrador retriever Customs dog looking for items prohibited for transfer through the border
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The Labrador Retriever is a real fan-favorite, topping lists of dog charts worldwide. Originally a hunting dog, this breed has found its way into service roles, police work, and companionship with owners.

History in the Police Force Labradors are typically non-aggressive and people-oriented, which helps officers who need a friendly but focused partner. Labs have had an increasing variety of police jobs in the United States.
Necessary Characteristics  Labs have a deep desire to learn new information. They have an eagerness to please, making them highly trainable and efficient. The overall willpower and desire to please create a perfect temperament for special training.
Areas of Expertise Labs make excellent detection dogs since they have such a willingness to act and take direction.

7. Bouvier des Flandres

Image: Tatyana Kuznetsova, Shutterstock

The powerful Bouvier des Flandres spent their early years tending to livestock. Their steadfastness and obedience have led them from the farm into other roles.

History in the Police Force Once the police caught wind of the Bouvier des Flandres’ willingness to work, they started training them for the field.
Necessary Characteristics  Bouvier des Flandres have a highly rational nature, making them very logical thinkers. Their bodies are firmly muscled and capable. These dogs can keep up mentally and physically, obeying complex commands with ease.
Areas of Expertise Bouviers work very well as a personal protection animal for officers or individuals on solo missions.

8. American Pit Bull Terrier

portrait of a beautiful male purebred American Staffordshire Terrier on the background of green grass
Image Credit:, Shutterstock

Pit Bulls get a pretty bad rap in the breed category. Contrary to popular belief, these dogs are intensely loyal, friendly creatures with excellent character.

History in the Police Force Because so many Pit Bulls end up in shelters, many areas are adopting the practice of training Pit Bulls for the field. These programs allow the dogs to learn a valuable skill that assists the police force.
Necessary Characteristics  Pit Bulls are incredibly muscular and have an intense bite force. They have an unmatched loyalty toward those they trust. Because of their desire to please, they follow orders and catch on quickly to new information.
Areas of Expertise Pit Bulls make fantastic detection dogs for their accuracy and obedience.

9. Giant Schnauzer

Image Credit By: Eliska Zeiskova, shutterstock

The Giant Schnauzer is a highly sturdy, elegant dog with an impressive awareness. They are the largest of all the Schnauzer breed variations.

History in the Police Force Giant Schnauzers were used in great wars across the earth as military dogs. They served as both police dogs and herding dogs after that.
Necessary Characteristics  These dogs are notably loyal, robust, and intelligent. Their dominance and rugged nature make them ideal for following through and not backing down—unless ordered to do so. Even though these dogs have a strong presence, they are loyal to a fault with their handlers or owners.
Areas of Expertise Giant Schnauzers make excellent guard dogs, which make them compatible with police security.

10. Boxers

brindle boxer police dog in the grass field
Image By: Rolf Klebsattel, Shutterstock

Developed in Germany, the Boxer has become a favorite for companionship and service alike. Their personalities give them versatility in usefulness in many categories.

History in the Police Force Boxers are mostly commonly police dogs in European countries, especially in their homeland of Germany. However, they aren’t a popular choice in the US for this role.
Necessary Characteristics  Boxers have amicable and obedient personalities, helping officers in social settings. While they are middle-of-the-road in terms of canine intelligence, they aim to please, acting with patience and grace.
Areas of Expertise Boxers work best as guard dogs, aiming to protect officers in the line of duty.

11. Rottweiler

rottweiler police dog standing near soldiers
Image By: Krysja, Shutterstock

The fearsome Rottweiler was bred for obedience and work. This German breed has helped mankind throughout history—serving as guard dogs, livestock herders, and haulers.

History in the Police Force The Rottweiler assisted German soldiers throughout World War I. Afterward, they were recognized as the fourth breed of police dog in Germany. They aren’t used as often these days, but you can still find them on occasion in K9 units.
Necessary Characteristics  Rottweilers respond well to direction and act on demand. They are very loyal and devoted to their duties. These dogs have brute strength and a powerful structure. They only decreased as police dogs because they are a bit heavier, making them less efficient in agility training.
Areas of Expertise Rottweilers were typically used in search and rescue and guard dog work.

12. German Shorthaired Pointer

Image Credit: Burry van den Brink, Shutterstock

The German Shorthaired Pointer has roots deeply implanted in hunting and tracking. They have a nose to sniff out just about anything they’re directed to.

History in the Police Force Sometimes, certain police breeds can be quite intense and intimidating. When an officer is only patrolling or needs a canine partner around children, even-keeled dogs like the German Shorthaired Pointer are terrific choices.
Necessary Characteristics  German Shorthaired Pointers are very amiable dogs, making them suitable dogs for public officers. They take direction quickly and form strong bonds with handlers.
Areas of Expertise You might find a German Shorthaired Pointer on general patrol with officers.


Final Thoughts

It’s amazing to see just how well man and dog work alongside one another. The brilliance and loyalty of dogs are unwavering. These breeds just so happen to be the top choices for accompanying officers in the line of duty, utilizing all of their potential for the greater good.

In addition to police work, these dogs also work well in other areas that serve humankind—including just being our best friends. Where would we be without our canine buddies?

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Featured Image Credit: GUNDAM_Ai, Shutterstock

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