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Why are police dogs...


Good Dog
Why are Police dogs mostly GSD's and Mals? Is it just because they are popular and it's more of a "if it's not broke don't fix it" kind of thing, or do they preform better than other breeds? I'm surprised there aren't more Doberman police dogs, weren't they the only breed originally bred for P.P?
I can see why a rottweiler or mastiff types might not be the best for police work because their size makes them slower, but what about the sleeker breeds? Dutch Shepherds, Dobies, Ect..


Good Dog
Premium Member
Are you specifically talking about dogs that are used for patrol?
I think these are the dogs you see the most because they are the most visible.
For instance, the narcotics dog for our county is a German Short Hair Pointer. Tracking team are bloodhounds, bomb detection is a beagle and a Labrador.
About 20 years ago we had 2 Dobes, that was the breed of choice for protection.
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Lee D

Good Dog
when I was a kid I lived in a town that had a Doberman that rode around in the K9 cruiser, but that is the only one I can think of. I don't really know why they aren't used more often, we had a couple and I would think they would fit the bill...maybe a quality Doberman is harder to come by nowadays? :dunno:


Chi Super Dog
In the city, I've seen only GSDs and Mals doing police work. The bomb work goes to the Labradors. My opinion....if the dog has the trainability and "nose" for that type of work, that's the breed they go with.


Little Dog
In the town I grew up in they only use Mals. My dad was a K9 officer for 8-9 years before his dog, Rico, was retired. The guy my county got the dog from went to Holland to get get the dogs after they were trained and old enough. Not sure how common that is, though??


Good Dog
Premium Member
For the most part, it boiled down to cost. The rising price of good quality Dobes. PD's and their trainers found that GSD's and Mals were a cheaper option. The trainibiliy and workability was there. Plus, the dogs did not have the same intolerance to weather extreems like Dobes. robes are still the breed of choice for personal protection and smaller scale property protection.

Team Peanut

well i know our trainer is a k9 handler. he goes to europe often to purchase dogs as puppies for our police departments thru the us some for military. the mals and other breeds he purchases are not cheap but they are from lines and dogs that are pure drive from the womb. i think they purchase and use mals more hen other breeds is because how intense they are, how willing to work they are scary to people that the y are chasing. besides they are nuts of dogs.


Good Dog
Premium Member
For the most part, it boiled down to cost. The rising price of good quality Dobes. PD's and their trainers found that GSD's and Mals were a cheaper option. The trainibiliy and workability was there. Plus, the dogs did not have the same intolerance to weather extreems like Dobes. robes are still the breed of choice for personal protection and smaller scale property protection.
I honestly did mean to minimalize GDS's or Mal's by my post. I know these dogs are expensive.
I should have stated in my post that initially, approx 20 years ago or so, cost did play a factor.


Good Dog
I am not sure really why the don't use other dogs, but I know one Police Department who rocks! They use a Dogo, but is due to a particular officer wanting to use him, but I bet they will use more in the future.
Cute video that shows him from puppy to police dog:

Here is a short article where he stopped a 315lb man from going over a wall


Good Dog
When I worked at the shelter, we had the Pittsburgh Police come in for patrol dogs and for bomb/drug dogs to adopt. They took lots of labs and HIGH energy mixes with focus.

But the GSD question is a good one.

I know german shepherds we got in would rarely pass the SAFER test, but the ones that did were amazingly smart, wonderful dogs


Little Dog
I see a decent number of Dutch Shepherds, but there just aren't as many of them to purchase as there are GSD and Malinois.

Working quality Dobermans aren't as common, plus the breed has a lot of health issues and shorter longevity. They aren't a breed I would seek out for for law enforcement.

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Good Dog
^This is what my Doberman friend says as well. She mentioned something about it being harder to find truly gritty Dobes as well. They've started to stray away from their original purpose of a PP dog and working breeding seems to have focused more on the sport of Schutzhund. Which is not a very good test of workability.

GSDs and Mals are definitely highly suited and effective for the job. But even then they have their strengths and their weaknesses. A Mal is more likely to barge in on a extreme once-in-a-lifetime scenario and not think twice, but they tend to be sharper than GSDs so the GSD are often more favored for working around the public.(GSDs tend to have better off-switches as well) This kind of explains that, it's why our local PD likes them as well. Their dogs are awesome, they can take on real criminals but as the same time will gladly accept being surrounded and pet by 16 kids. The vid also mentions Bloodhound usage.

But in detection work I've seen a large variety of breeds, and it doesn't seem terribly uncommon to find shelter programs, a few of our local shelter's dogs have gone to disaster squads to work tornado areas and such. Labs seem to be the favorite for that.
Older thread but felt like commenting anyways. Sorry.

Dobermans where originally cancelled from military programs because the majority was proving not reliable on the battlefield. More nervy and sharper than GSD's. Despite many good ones,they felt it wasn't worth the time and money breeding them when their was the more reliable GSD. Now Dobermans have been bred down even more sense then,so I actually see more Rottweilers used as Police and Military dog than them.
Rottweilers have made successful police dog but are more favorable as riot and security dogs. Large and intimidating(although most working Rotts are smaller built) yet gritty enough to handle it. Rotts also have a lot of health issues and are not as easy to train though.
Heres some stories of some individual Rotts,I can upload pics too if wanted. Both are more seen outside of the U.S

BBC - Wiltshire - People - Top Wiltshire police dog to retire

Hero police dog passes away | 3AW Breakfast

No Cookies | Herald Sun

Dutch shepherds are just heard of as well yet,less breeding programs as Belgian Malinois or GSD's. They do seem to be growing in popularity though,and wouldn't be surprised if in a few years are right up their with the other two.

Airedales where originally used as police and military dogs but also have been really bred down where no matter where you look you just don't see them at all anymore. Giant Schnauzers are more common,although still sparse. You also have to wonder why Beaucerons are almost unheard of as police dogs,Their healthy,intelligent and pretty hard dogs but slower at maturing and harder to find.

Now their are some sparse police and military dog from Pit bulls to Caucasian Shepherds.

Here's a interesting video of a swat Pit bull. I would guess why Pits are not as used is because of their poor reputation/BSL and worries of dog aggression.

Quik Z06

Not sure if anyone remembers the show Alpha Dogs, but it was good to watch. Explaining what's required from their service dogs not only for police but military. High ball drive and a desire to work. The Malanoise and GSD are great candidates because they can be easily carried when needed along with their special skills and training.

Sadly ly it seems they are straying from GSD due to health concerns though.

*this forum hates iPads!*
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