Types of Police Dogs: 6 Breeds That Serve and Protect

Types of Police Dogs

There are hundreds of breeds of dogs that exist out there. Some dogs are classified as working dogs because they tend to thrive by helping and working alongside of their owners. Some working dogs can bring medical supplies in fields of combat. Some working dogs can be trained as service dogs and assist when their owner is about to have a medical issue. Another class of working dogs are those that are tasked to be police dogs.

If you’re studying criminal justice and law enforcement, you may be familiar with the term “K-9”. It takes a lot of work to train dogs to be K9 (canine) police dogs. In this article we will explore the different jobs that these dogs have. Further, we will share 6 types of police dogs that are usually tasked with those jobs. 

Purpose of Police Dogs

Police dogs are trained as canine officers. They are not their handlers pet while they are working. They are a true member of the police force and are treated as such. Many police dogs are fitted with bulletproof vests and they go through substantial training to follow commands and be able to protect their handler at a moment’s notice. 

Police dogs are trained to be able to follow the scent found on a person’s shirt or other belongings in order to find a missing person. They are also trained to sniff out drugs or bombs. They can find these through metal lockers, duffle bags, suitcases, and so much more. Police dogs are also used in foot pursuits. One on one, a suspect has a fair chance to outrun a police officer. It is a crapshoot of how fit they are compared to the officer. Well, these are well-trained and very fit canines. It is highly unusual to be able to outrun these amazing canine officers. 

German Shepherd

Kinds of Police Dogs - German Shephard

One of the most popular dog breeds that is associated with being a police dog is the German shepherd. Shepherds are well known for their working nature, as well as their intelligence. They are very agile and nimble dogs. Do not let them fool you though, they pack a powerful punch if you need to be abruptly stopped by one! They are extremely loyal dogs and would do anything to protect their partner.

There are places in Germany that breed and train German Shepherds for the sole purpose of working on a police force. They are by far the most popular breed throughout the Country in terms of K9 officers. Their track record of success speaks for itself and really underlines the value that they can bring to the police force. It is important to note, however, that they are not the only breed of canine that can perform at such a top level.

Labrador Retriever

Kinds of Police Dogs - Labrador Retriever

The Labrador retriever has a fantastic sense of smell. They can track humans, drugs, paraphernalia, and explosives amazingly. Their noses are so much more powerful than humans, where we would not be able to perform those tasks. Labs are well-known for being highly trainable, as well as being extremely loyal to their owners.

They are extremely intelligent breeds and can perform amazingly since their drive is to please. This drive to make their owners happy really establishes them as a working dog and the pride that they take in becoming a K9 officer. They are a breed that if they accomplish something well, you can see it on their face as well in the wag of their tail how proud they are! 


Types of Police Dogs - Beagles

If you have ever seen a hunting dog in action, you would know that those dogs normally have their nose to the ground trying to catch some sort of a scent. This makes beagles extremely effective in narcotics and in tracking people. The beagles’ nose is one of the most powerful sniffers out there! Beagles are also people-pleasers, which makes them easy to train and gives them their strong drive to learn.


Types of Police Dogs - Rottweiler

This breed often catches a ton of heat. For some reason, they have become known for being aggressive and a fighting breed. However, that could not be further from the truth. Sure, they are a strong breed, which sure comes in handy when you are looking at a police dog. They can provide some true might.

However, along with their muscle, they are extremely loyal. They tend to be more outgoing with their owner and those that they form a relationship with. Once they establish that bond, they would be more willing to be a hardworking police dog, aiming to please their handler. All of those wonderful qualities can be used to help train them, as well as to continue that human to canine bond. A canine becomes extremely attached to their handler, which is why the K9 officers do not trade off canines and they also tend to bring them home with them.


Types of Police Dogs - Doberman

This breed may also come as a surprise. While it is not a breed that is often chosen for police dogs, they are widely used by the military. In fact, in World War II, they were the chosen breed to perform jobs, such as delivering supplies and messages to soldiers. They were protective and useful companions to the soldiers. Given their high intelligence, tracking ability and energy, they can be trained to be a productive member of the police force. They are less commonly chosen for the police force because of the energy that they require and can be considered more “high strung” than the other breeds.

However, if you capitalize on their strengths and get them running and exercising, they can be particularly useful to the police force. Their speed can certainly catch a suspect from a ways away. They can react much quicker than their human partner in an emergency and can perhaps pull someone from danger in a prompter manner due to that. We think that this breed should not be discounted and overlooked, but rather considered how they can be utilized as a working dog and be trained to become a police dog.

Family Pets

These dogs are trained to be working dogs. That is, they know that when they get into the police car, they have a job to do. They snap into work mode and when the door of their police cruiser opens up, they know that they need to catch a bad guy or perhaps find a missing child. They are trained to follow their partner’s commands. They can chase down a suspect from miles away and knock them down with one swift motion. Along with that, they also tend to go home with their partners at night. 

That means that along with all that they see during their shift, they need to be able to be within a home, lots of times with children, and be able to function in that environment. That means that those police dogs need to be highly adaptable to their surroundings and situations. Police dogs form a bond and a relationship with each member of the household and will protect them with all of their might should any trouble arise in the home. 

Luckily, due to the substantial training that these canines have, they can adapt to different situations. As a police dog, they are always by their partner’s side. So, during one shift, they may attend a children’s parade and then in the next hour be in a shoot out with a suspect. Their demeanor and behavior in both situations would be vastly different. Their ability to adapt to that situation and not bring any aggression where it does not belong is an amazing skill to have. 


Many dogs are working dogs. Those dogs that are people pleasers and thrive on busting out some energy and earning a job well done would make wonderful working dogs. Working dogs are used in many professions, from the military to the medical field to the schools to the police force. 

When working dogs are trained to become police dogs, their specific breeds are utilized to build upon their strengths. Breeds that are well-known for their loyalty and intelligence will be trained as such to use those qualities to help them perform well on the job. Breeds that are known to have a nose of steel will be used to sniff out drugs, explosives, or humans. Breeds with pure muscle and might will be used in a foot pursuit and everyday daily patrol. 

Many of these dogs will be trained to perform in all of those areas listed above. The true police dog has the ability to perform all of these tasks, while also maintaining a calm demeanor and can be a good, family dog. The beauty of police dogs is that, while they are always considered to be on the job and trained, they can adapt to their surroundings and they know when they need to take police commands or simply can lounge on the couch for a bit. 

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