4 min read


Why Are Labrador Retrievers Good Police Dogs



4 min read


Why Are Labrador Retrievers Good Police Dogs




You might spot a Labrador Retriever working with his airport security partner at an airport, sniffing bags. You might see them training in a field or near a building. Whatever the scenario, it is clear that this dog is focused. He follows his nose, listens to commands, and gets the job done. A Labrador Retriever can do more than retrieve toys from the yard; he can join the police force. His intelligence, energy, and build make him an excellent partner for the men and women in blue. Protecting your community, a Lab is part of the force, often called Police K9.

The Root of the Behavior

 Labrador Retrievers are exceptional dogs. Their build, intelligence, and friendliness make them the most popular dogs in America. They are gentle enough to play with children but tough enough to work as police dogs. Labs can weigh anywhere from 55-80 pounds and have a strong hunting instinct. Their strong legs and shoulders make them fast runners. Their coat is almost waterproof and their tail can be used as a type of rudder when they swim, and they love swimming. Labs are very obedient when trained and get along with most people or animals they come across. They not only have energy but stamina as well, allowing them to work for long periods of time. They are also strong and dependable. In addition, they have an excellent sense of smell and are incredibly agile which helps them navigate odd spaces.

Police use different dog breeds for different reasons, and most often police use Labs for their exceptionally strong nose. The Lab’s good nose was bred to find game, but now can be used to sniff out drugs, explosives, weapons, or people. It’s common to see Labs in airports or other centers of transportation, keeping an eye out for the safety of everyone. They can work as search and rescue dogs, sometimes looking for survivors buried under rubble after an earthquake or other tragedy. A Lab’s high energy level makes him an excellent dog for the police. His need to exercise, hunt, and be mentally stimulated are all satisfied when he trains with police. His hunting skill that at one point in time might have been used to grab that duck is now used to find illegal drugs or weapons. The Lab’s lifespan is approximately 10-13 years and his working years on a police K9 unit can be 6-9 years. When working, the pup’s partner makes all his decisions about his care. If the Lab is ever injured and killed in the line of duty, he receives the same honors as their human partner would.

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Encouraging the Behavior

Labs thrive on activity, learning, and interaction, so the thorough training and exercise that police provide are a perfect match for this dog. Labrador Retrievers get mental stimulation and are able to please their police partners when they work as part of the police K9s unit. These dogs work on the police force are contributing to society and protecting us. Not all Labs are destined to be bomb-sniffing dogs, but there’s plenty of other services Labs perform. Some Labrador Retrievers are service dogs for people with disabilities. 

They are commonly used guide dogs for people who are blind, and the trained guide dogs can help with everyday tasks, like pushing a crosswalk button, stopping a child from running into the road, and pick up things that their owner can’t reach or see. They can also be used for medical detection and identify seizure activity before it begins or low blood sugar levels. Labs also make good therapy dogs. Therapy dogs are used in a variety of situations, from pediatric wards at hospitals to nursing homes. Their calm temperament makes them exceptional at being handled by even the children who might grab and pull, and they enjoy being around people. As therapy dogs, they bring some peace and relief to people who might be having a rough day. 

Other Solutions and Considerations

Now that you know Labrador Retrievers are capable of so many things, you might be wondering if your Lab can be the next helper. Labs have these excellent qualities that make them able to carry out jobs like detection dogs, medical alerts, search and rescue, or therapy dogs, but they also go through extensive training to hone those skills. Their training starts at a young age. If you think your dog could qualify, talk to your vet and a trainer to find out the requirements of your local police force. If it turns out your Lab doesn’t meet those requirements because of age or something else, train him to do fun tricks anyway! He will love using his intelligence and he will be happy pleasing you. If you’re not sure where to start, ask the trainer for some good tips to working with such a smart dog. 


Labrador Retrievers have a good reason for being one of the most popular dogs in America and it’s no wonder the police use them. These great dogs are providing a service to their communities. The Labrador Retriever's qualities of strong, dependent, energetic, and friendliness make him an excellent police partner. Next time you see them working, know that they are working hard. 

By a Miniature Yorkie lover Stephanie Molkentin

Published: 03/29/2018, edited: 01/30/2020

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