The police employ dogs to assist in the duties. These dogs are especially bred to deal with complex tasks. But not all dogs can become police dogs. It takes a special kind of pup. Today, we answer the question, “what do police dogs do?”

Police Dog Breeds

Generally, dogs used for policing are bred for agility, cooperation with handlers, and who can deal with fighting criminals. However, some dogs are bred to do only one or two tasks, such as cadaver dogs.

Dogs commonly trained as police dogs:

  • Bloodhounds
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Dutch Shepherds
  • German Shepherds
  • Labrador Retrievers

The History of Police Dogs

Since the Middle Ages, dogs have been used for law enforcement. Villages used to be taxed in order to keep bloodhounds used for hunting down criminals. Growing lawlessness during London in the 19th century, dogs were used to combat crime.

Today, dogs are used throughout Europe and the United States for police work.

According to How Stuff Works, “A large part of police work is searching for lost victims, whether it’s someone who has been kidnapped or a missing person who has gotten lost. In the case of search and rescue, dogs can be trained to find living victims and the remains of deceased humans. They are able to search through rubble after a devastating explosion, earthquake, or other disaster.”

K9 Officers

Officers who work with police dogs are specially trained to deal with canines. Dogs will accompany their human partners to their traffic stops, responding to calls, and used to represent the force during public events. A police dog also lives at their partner’s home. That means the handler’s family must be ready to be around and care for the police dog, as well. That means feeding, care while on vacation, exercise, and veterinary care. They are one of the family.

Here are some guidelines offered by one criminal justice education resource, “K9 officers should be approachable and personable. Police officers with a canine partner typically receive more attention and interest from the public, so these officers must be prepared to deal with a wide range of people. Prospective canine officers must also be able to understand and communicate effectively with animals, so previous experience in serious animal training and handling is a benefit.”

What Police Dogs Do

Police dogs are used for a multitude of tasks within law enforcement. In general, dogs with great scent receptors are popular.

Tracking

Tracking using their smart sniffers is one of the most important jobs police dogs do. They can search for missing people, hiding criminals, and drugs, among other things.

Cadaver Search

Unfortunately, cadaver search is one task a police dog may need to help complete. Training includes wilderness air scent, disaster search, problem-solving, and more.

Substance Detection

Humans have 5 million scent receptors in their noses, but dogs have over 225 million! Dogs are taught to smell drugs, accelerants, explosives, and other evidence that might exist in a crime scene. As criminals grow cleverer, dogs are being taught to sniff out just one or two illicit substances. Even detecting recently discharged firearms is needed.

Law Enforcement/Apprehension

Canine officers may be used for the pursuit of criminals and fugitives. Both handlers and dogs need to be ready to respond quickly and correctly in order to do their jobs right. Much of canine training deals with taking down suspected criminals all while protecting the public and officers.

Search and Rescue

According to the AKC, “A large part of police work is searching for lost victims, whether it’s someone who has been kidnapped or a missing person who has gotten lost. In the case of search and rescue, dogs can be trained to find living victims and the remains of deceased humans. They are able to search through rubble after a devastating explosion, earthquake, or other disaster.”

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