Dogs have been used in law enforcement and police work going as far back as the 5th Century. Modern K9 officers are trained for different tasks, and certain police dog breeds are picked for particular law enforcement jobs.
- German Shepherd
It comes as no surprise that the German Shepherd Dog is the first on this list of most well-known police dog breeds. Most people only know them as “police dogs” because of all the TV shows that popularized this breed, forgetting that they actually have an actual breed name. Because they’re one of the most talented and smartest dog breeds, highly trainable, and follow through on commands like a clock, German Shepherds shine when it comes to bringing down suspects (armed or not).
2. Belgian Malinois
Closely related to the German Shepherd Dogs, the Belgian Malinois has also been used extensively as K-9 officers for years and are often confused for GSDs. With their strong protective instincts and loyal personalities, Malinois dogs are a force to be reckoned with and are the second most popular police dog breed out there. Today, they’re even more often seen than GSDs to sniff out narcotics and bombs in airports. Because they aren’t normally aggressive by default (German Shepherds are naturally more aggressive), this police dog breed makes amazing a K-9 police officer.
Boxers are a very flexible dog breed that has served in WW1 and WW2 as a guard and patrol dogs alongside military officers, and that’s what they’re often remembered for when it comes to their history of being working dogs. On top of that, Boxers were also used as messenger dogs to relay messages between troops in the war’s crossfire. Loyal, stable, and sociable, the Boxer is still very popular and commonly used as K-9 officers in their home country of Germany, being one of the more popular police dog breeds in Europe in general, but not as much in most other countries and certainly not in the U.S. They’re falling popularity as K-9 units are likely due to their genetic inclination towards certain illnesses and diseases.
4. Labrador Retriever
Many decades ago, the Labrador Retriever was initially bred as a hunting gun dog to sniff out the game and retrieve it. This is because they’re known to be very sociable, friendly, loyal, and intelligent. Labradors have a love of learning and enjoy interacting with people. Being one of the smartest and easiest dog breeds to train, the Labrador Retriever makes an outstanding K-9 officer. The working Lab – those that you often see not only as police officers but also as service dogs – looks somewhat different than the household Labrador you’ll see in your neighbor’s home; usually, they’re slightly more muscular and leaner from being working dogs. Some people might think that they’re underfed, but quite the opposite is true. A working Labrador is a lean, fast-moving machine whose diet is always optimized to maintain its best health.
5. Doberman Pinscher
Prevalent police dog breeds that everyone has seen on TV shows and movies are the Doberman Pinscher. Just like GSDs, this intimidating-looking breed has been used in police work for many decades. While popular, they’re not as commonly used as other police dog breeds mentioned above. They aren’t trained to be aggressive but rather enjoy going out into the field to work. Intelligent, courageous, and beautiful, the Doberman Pinscher is rarely trained for sniffing or other law enforcement jobs that do not involve athleticism. Primarily, Dobermans are used to apprehend fleeing criminals by grabbing the arm and pulling them to the ground.
These are the most famous American police dog breeds.