Top 15 Dog Breeds for Police Work

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Dog breeds that work with police, government agencies and rescue workers are typically smart, strong, brave, exhibit excellent stamina and are fearlessly loyal to their handlers. These pawmazing pups are willing to enter dangerous environments and claustrophobic conditions. While breeds like German Shepherds and Bull Terriers are obvious choices, some of the other breeds used may surprise you. Nations all over the world utilize canines for security, detective work, bomb- and drug-sniffing, and search-and-rescue. Helping to keep order in prisons and crowd control during protests and riots, dogs are relied upon to restrain their aggression while providing a menacing presence. Here are the top canine breeds used in police work throughout the world.

German Shepherd

Arguably the best-known examples of police dogs, German Shepherds have both positive and negative reputations depending on who they work for and how they're used. Highly trainable, they will enter burning buildings or jump into flooded rivers when ordered. Furbulous guard dogs, their loud barking alerts their handlers to danger or prey and their simple presence is an effective deterrent to crime and violence.

Belgian Malinois

These medium-sized dogs are related to German Shepherds in appearance and personality, and are often used to get into tighter spaces than the Shepherd can enter. Their popularity in the military is growing and they can serve as messengers and search-and-rescue pups, as well as members of the K-9 squad.


Bloodhounds have a trait that makes them invaluable for police work: their ability to identify specific scents and follow them for as long and as far as they need to find their origins. Used in England in the 18th and 19th centuries to find fugitives and search out survivors of disasters, today they are called in for search-and-rescue, drug detection and other highly sensory jobs.
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Rottweilers are known to be suspicious around people they don't know, and as a result, make furtastic guard dogs. Affectionate with their families and handlers, they can quickly transform into attack mode if they feel threatened or think their humans are in danger. Their confident, reliable nature makes them trustworthy and consistent.

Doberman Pinscher

Another familiar police dog, Dobermans are extremely bright and trainable, and are fiercely loyal to their humans. Powerful and fast, they can chase down fugitives and keep them in place until their handlers catch up. They make great protection and guard dogs as well, and while they're not as prevalent as Shepherds, they are still used widely in law enforcement.

Labrador Retriever

Not all police work consists of guarding and threatening or catching criminals. There are many circumstances where a quiet, solid presence is needed, as in hostage situations, bomb-sniffing and search-and-rescue scenarios. When children are involved in crisis situations, labs are especially helpful because of their gentle natures, wagging tails and cute faces.

German Shorthaired Pointer

These doggos excel in finding and exposing illegal substances like drugs and explosives, and are used in transportation centers that need to  provide travelers with security. Adept at finding victims of crime or natural disasters as well as evidence, these agile and smart pups can be found assisting at the aftermaths of floods and earthquakes, as well as at crime scenes.

American Pit Bull Terrier

These powerful and agile dogs are used typically for patrolling and detection, although they make fierce protectors and guard dogs, too. When ordered, they are fast and fearless pursuers of criminals, and can detect many substances. Their reputations as fighting dogs make them especially fearsome in violent crowd control and domestic violence situations.

Giant Schanuzer

These persistent dogs are pawsome trackers. They will stay on the scent of materials and substances like bombs and narcotics, or people like criminal suspects and missing persons. Their size and natural suspicion of strangers make them good guard dogs as well. While they're typically quiet and calm, they can react quickly and aggressively when necessary.


A popular scent hound used for hunting small animals like foxes, Coonhounds are also grrrreat tracking dogs for police work. When searching for missing people, they're stubborn and will follow a scent for miles. They're very mellow and gentle, don't frighten people with their approach, and they will track substances as well.


Boxers proved themselves valuable in World Wars I and II by guarding perimeters and assisting with communications. Today their stalwart, stable personalities and solid physiques make them good police dogs. Loyal to their families and handlers, and smart enough to train easily, they are used for police work mostly in Europe.

Bouvier des Flandres

These protective pups may look fluffy and in most circumstances they are gentle, but it's wise not to threaten them or their handlers. Their distinctive, guttural growl is the precursor to some fierce aggression in some situations. For this reason, they are present in police work in places where need for riot control and formidable opponents exist.


Another seldom thought-of canine officer, the Briard is of French origin and are utilized in law enforcement where alertness and bravery are crucial. Police search-and-rescue or fugitive tracking situations are situations where you may see them, and they make great dogs for dealing with psychological crises, like PTSD sufferers.

Airedale Terriers

While not particularly ferocious, Airedales make excellent K-9 officers because of their acute senses. Frequently assigned to patrolling and guarding, they detect intruders quickly and bark loudly to alert their handlers. Their sense of smell is particularly useful for bomb-sniffing, drug-detection and missing persons. Bred to hunt small animals like rodents, they are persistent and skilled.

Cane Corso

The Cane Corso is another breed not generally seen in the US, with only one currently in use for police work, but there is interest in increasing its numbers. These pit-similar dogs are intimidating and strong, and up to any task to which they're assigned. Especially adept at protective duty and patrolling/guarding, they may eventually stand with shepherds and pinschers atop the K-9 police force.