Different breeds of dog, including German Shepherds, Malinois, Bloodhounds & even a Chihuahua, work as police dogs & in the military and emergency services.
The first official academy for training police dogs was formed in Ghent, Belgium in 1889. These pioneer police pooches were Malinois, Belgium Shepherd dogs. Since then a variety of breeds have helped keep the streets free of crime and sniffed out felons, drugs, explosives and the victims of natural and manmade disasters.
Malinois and German Shepherds
Malinois are used to this day by law enforcement and military agencies throughout Europe, Australia and the USA. It is a breed favoured by Oketz a special unit of the Israeli army. Oketz dogs are held in high esteem. When killed in action they are buried with full military honours. They are intelligent, high energy, handler focused dogs. Qualities which equip them well for law enforcement work.
In the UK we tend to associate Police Dogs with German Shepherds. These handsome dogs are courageous, calm and confident with well developed tracking skills. They are highly intelligent, easy to train and extremely loyal. These traits equip them not only for life as law enforcement dogs but also as therapy dogs and guide dogs for the blind. Sadly, there has been something of a decline in the popularity of this breed in the UK leading to a short fall in the number of Alsatian puppies available as police cadets.
Of the 27 dogs awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal for bravery since its inception in 1943 ten have been German Shepherds. Brian, who was awarded the medal in 1947, was a fully qualified Paratrooper who landed in Normandy with his Battalion. Appollo, an NYPD dog, received the honor on behalf of all Search and Rescue dogs at Ground Zero and the Pentagon during the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.
Bloodhounds and Springer Spaniels
Bloodhounds have been used as tracker dogs for centuries. It is said Bloodhounds have the best noses in the canine world and unlike other breeds can follow a cold trail. “Bloodhound evidence” is admissible in several jurisdictions in the USA.
Bloodhounds only track their prey they do not bring it down as a Malinois or German Shepherd will. A Bloodhound is more likely to want to play with an escaped felon than pin him down. So it was something of an aberration when one of the two hounds employed in 19th Century London to hunt Jack the Ripper bit the Commissioner of Police and was subsequently sacked.
In 2009 Devon and Cornwall Police was the first force in the UK to employ Springer Spaniels as rescue dogs trained specifically to find lost and vulnerable people. Springer Spaniels have been used for some time as sniffer dogs by police and military services and they are a common sight at London underground stations.
As well as sniffing out explosives and drugs Springers have also been trained as cadaver dogs and to unearth illegal phones in prisons.
More Recent Additions to the Forces of Law and Order
A Chihuahua who weighs in at 3kg has recently joined the police force in western Japan as a sniffer dog. The diminutive rookie passed out of police dog academy with flying colours.As expected by those familiar with this spirited breed, Momo was totally unperturbed by her larger alumni and passed the sniffer dog test with flying colours. She will be employed on active service in rescue operations, squeezing herself into spaces your average German Shepherd has no hope of going.
Aeroflot bred the Sulimov especially to detect explosives. 75% Lapp Reindeer Dog and 25% Jackal it has an exceptionally developed sense of smell and can withstand extremes of temperature. It is currently employed in Russian airports.
The Jindo Dogs of South Korea are the most recent breed of dog to be regarded as a new recruit to the forces of law and order. The LAPD are checking out this intensely loyal breed which has a track record as a guard dog in the Korean army.
The dogs who work with our police, emergency and military services do a variety of jobs. Their innate skills are honed by training and the patience and love of their handlers to help make the world a safer place.