12 Police and Military Dog Breeds

Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

February 15, 2016

You know, canines aren’t just house pets. Because of their unceasing loyalty and dedication to a job well done, dogs have been used for national security and law enforcement for over 100 years.

Related Article: 10 Things You May Not Know About Military Dogs

But not just any dog can be trained for military and law enforcement. It takes a special combination of daring and discipline. Read on to see if your pooch makes the list of 12 popular military and police dog breeds!

1. The German Shepherd

german shepherd

German Shepherd’s are one of the most common and thought of police/military dogs. According to the American Kennel Club, German Shepherds are strong, agile, well-muscled, alert and able to retain training for numerous services. They are known for their direct personality and fearlessness. German Shepherds are used mostly in K-9 units because of their intelligence and ability to handle high-stress situations like chasing down or tackling a criminal.

2. Belgian Malinois 


Do you remember when Osama Bin Laden was captured? You can thank Cairo, a Belgian Malinois and crucial member of Seal Team Six who conducted the raid in 2011.

Confident, hardworking, smart and loyal, the Belgian Malinois is the smaller cousin of the German Shepherd and carries the characteristics of the Belgian Sheepdog and the Belgian Tervuren. According to the Malinois Club, many of its qualities established them as herding dogs at the beginning but eventually were used as messenger carriers and ambulance dogs during World War I. Today they are still used for herding along with police work, sledding, search and rescue and therapy.

3. The Labrador Retriever 


If there was an all-purpose dog, the Labrador Retriever (or commonly known as the lab) would be it. Labs are mostly used because of their friendly and passive personality. They are highly obedient and are trained mostly for their sense of smell. While Labradors are super friendly and great for families and therapy patients, they aren’t the ideal security dog. They make up for it in servicing the blind, hunting and search and rescues. According to Summerville Police Department, labs are usually used to detect explosives or narcotics by either sniffing it out or physically scratching or barking at where the item is located.

4. The Dutch Shepherd

dutch shepherd

Dutch Shepherds are very similar to German Shepherds when it comes to coloring and size. Even though these guys aren’t on the forefront of the police/military task force they are especially known for search and rescue. Dutch Shepherds are known to be athletic, lively and very intelligent. According to the American Dutch Shepherds Association (ADSA), they are equally suitable as a companion and as a competent working dog, used for obedience and dog sports, herding, search and tracking dog, and as a police and security dog.

5. The Bloodhound


Inquisitive by nature, friendly and independent, Bloodhounds are nevertheless notorious for their sense of smell, making them the perfect pup to smell out humans and narcotics. According to the AKC, the first ever recorded use of Bloodhounds by organized law enforcement was in England in 1805 when the Bloodhound was used to search for poachers and thieves. Once a Bloodhound is handed a scent article, the dog creates a scent image in their head which allows them to differentiate that particular scent from all other scents.

6. The Rottweiler


Rottweilers are known to be the perfect guard dog. They are oftentimes reserved with strangers but are extremely loving and playful with family. The AKC describes them as a confident guardian, loving and loyal. In the early 20th century they came into favor as police dogs. These gentle giants are obedient and intelligent. During WWI and WWII, Rottweiler’s were oftentimes messenger dogs.

7. The Beagle


Don’t let these little guys be underestimated compared to their shepherd friends. Beagles may not be trained in both protection and sniffing, but their powerful nose makes up for what it lacks in strength and intimidation. These little nuggets are curious, eager to learn and friendly. They were originally bred to hunt in packs for rabbits and larger hares, making them the perfect sniffing dog.

According to Supervisor Kenneth Hodgkins of the Department of Homeland Security, Beagle’s are responsible for over 180,000 pounds of prohibited foods that have been tried to be imported into the United States within the last year.

8. The Giant Schnauzer

Giant Schnauzer  standing in yellow and orange fall leaves

Just by looking at them, you can tell the Giant Schnauzer would be a great guard dog. These huge canines can stand up to 27 inches tall, weigh up to 95 pounds, and they take their protection jobs very seriously. Besides keeping an eye on your backyard, their intelligence makes them successful in various working dog roles such as police and military dogs, search and rescue dogs, and even guide dogs.

9. The American Pit Bull Terrier

An American Pit Bull Terrier standing in front of a flower bed

Out of all the pit bulls, the American Pit Bull Terrier is the most common to be found working as a K9 dog patrolling and detecting. It wasn’t until recent years that these pups have been introduced to K9 units as patrol dogs, though. In the past, they were seen as an expensive and incapable dog breed, but utilizing rescue pit bulls has shown great potential and cheaper costs to police forces across the country.

10. The Airedale Terrier

A stoic Airedale Terrier

The Airedale Terrier is less common than the rest of these military and police dog breeds, but they still deserve a shoutout for their impressive, hard work. Having a great sense of smell, these terriers are especially useful in K9 units to help sniff out drugs and bombs, among other things.

11. The Belgian Shepherd

Belgian Shepherd sitting in 
heather grass

Being a cousin of the German Shepherd, it’s not a big surprise that these dogs can be found working with the police and military. One big difference of the Belgian Shepherd is the fact that they sport a longer coat of fur, which makes them suitable for colder climates. Their intelligence and obedience have proven true for many years, as they were used in both world wars and still continue to be used for police work today.

12. The German Shorthaired Pointer

German Shorthaired Pointer smiling while sitting in grass

Being known widely as gun dogs for hunters, the German Shorthaired Pointer has proven to be a great police dog, too. Although they seem like endless bundles of energy, they can become very loving and obedient canine companions to their police force with proper training. Their overall intelligence and amazing sense of smell has made them valuable to police officers for tracking illegal substances.

To all of our police and military dogs that have served and continue to serve, we just want to say thank you for your service!

Feature Image via BBC



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Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

February 15, 2016


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.