What Jobs Do Police Dogs Have?

Posted by Jackie Ly on

Police dog

Police dogs are specifically-trained to work with the police and other law enforcement agencies. They go under extensive training to assist their human partners on important tasks. 

Not all dogs are fit to become police dogs. There are dogs who are more fit for the fun and ease of domestic life, and there are a number of dog breeds that are commonly trained to become police dogs.

Here are popular dog breeds for K9 police dog choices: 

  • German Shepherd
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Dutch Shepherd
  • Doberman pinscher
  • Beagle
  • English Springer Spaniel

These breeds are popular because of their exceptional working ability, and willingness to support their handlers. Additionally, several of these breeds are particularly persistent when chasing criminals.

Police dogs are highly intelligent– handlers can even train them at a distance using remote activated training collars. They are sharp and reliable.

Police dogs risk their lives to protect their partners and the citizens. You might wonder, what exactly do they do? Here’s what a police dog’s job description looks like.


For this job, police dogs are trained to bite and detain suspects. When a suspect has run from law enforcers, the K9 unit is usually deployed. They are the ones who put their lives on the line to protect their human partners and civilians. 

Their speed, stamina, and strength enable them to catch suspects on the run quickly. In order to subdue and detain the suspect, a K9 grasps onto their arm or leg until the handler calls him off and can make the arrest. 

Most apprehension dogs are herding breeds, such as the Belgian Malinois, German Shepherd Dogs, and Dutch Shepherds. Herding breeds have been bred for hundreds of years to have the physical strength and intellect necessary to work with their handlers to herd livestock—qualities they also need to restrain a dangerous person. 

They are smart canines that respond to their handlers' commands and recognise when someone poses a threat.

Patrolling with officers

Public law enforcement dogs are the ones you usually see walking alongside a law enforcement officer, roaming around the vicinity. These dogs are known for staying by an officer’s side at all times and assisting in community patrols for potential danger. 

Public law enforcement dogs typically have a specific handler, and they usually form a strong bond with each other.

Scent tracking

Dogs are known for their excellent sense of smell. They have over 200 million scent receptors in their nose, making them excellent scent trackers. 

This ability is commonly used in detection of illegal drugs and explosives. K9 dogs are trained to focus on one scent they’re looking for. They ignore several smells that normally distract domestic dogs. They are often deployed to find illegal drugs and explosives in vast locations such as airports, routine traffic stops, concerts, and athletic events.

In order to protect their handlers and other personnel from danger, military dogs are also trained to detect landmines.

Search and Rescue

Finding missing people, either lost or kidnapped, is a frequent task done by the police.

Special K9s are used for their search and rescue abilities when a calamity occurs, such as an earthquake, tornado, or explosion. Search and rescue canines can squeeze into places that police officers are unable to enter, sniff out missing people among the rubble, and search through debris.

Police dogs are excellent at inspecting large areas fast, which is essential when there 

are missing victims. Of course, human searchers are also essential to the process, but the two working together can make a difference between life and death for missing people.

Human-remains detection

Cadaver dogs are trained to track one smell: decomposition. These types of police dogs are deployed during recovery missions. When a calamity strikes, K9 dogs can help find dead bodies buried on the ground, or bodies of drowned victims underwater in lakes or oceans. 

These dogs are experts and take part in important missions all over the world. 

Two types of police dogs

Single purpose dogs

Single purpose police dogs are trained to master one specific task. It can be patrolling, narcotics detection, tracking, explosive detection, drug detection, or cadaver detection. They excel at that one task if they are properly selected and properly trained. 

The handler also needs to concentrate on one discipline only. With no other training disciplines to maintain, there are less problems and less weak areas to spend time working on, allowing for more time and energy to refine and perfect the skill set.

Dual or multi-purpose dogs

Dual or multi-purpose police dogs are trained to do two, or usually at least four or five tasks. The handler is expected to teach and perfect multiple disciplines, which can be more challenging with increased training time. 

These factors make agencies worry to ask if their canine team will have enough time to regularly train a multi-purpose K-9 and keep them proficient in all tasks.

How to raise a puppy to become a police dog

Police dogs were also once puppies. They require training as early as possible to hone their skills and prepare them to be of service once they grow up. 

If you are planning to raise a puppy as a police dog, here are some steps you can take.

  • Assess your experience as a dog owner/trainer. Before you decide what puppy to adapt for foster care, make sure you are capable. Ask yourself, do I have enough experience in dog training?  Do I have the knowledge to understand drive development and socialization? Do I have the time to put into this development everyday with the puppy? 
  • Reach out to a local law enforcement agency to know if they have a need for trained police dogs. Many agencies only work with particular breeders or trainers and don't accept dogs from outside sources. Once you receive a confirmation that the agency is interested in your dog, begin the training and preparation process.
  • Determine the training needed. Your local law enforcement agency will give you the list of training needed. Every agency has different standards, so be sure to receive the right information and correctly teach your dog to avoid retraining.
  • Train your puppy according to the training requirements. Many police dogs are trained to detect certain scents, such as illegal drugs, firearms, and bomb-making ingredients. You’re unable to do these yourself, so it is best to find a local police or military working dog trainer who has legal access to these training aids
    • Police dogs are also taught how to manage steep terrain and poor weather. Other police canines are trained in search and rescue techniques. These ones you can do by yourself, as long as you practice the right measures and use effective equipment.
  • Obtain certifications. Your dog needs certain certifications to enter service as a police dog. These certifications are offered by numerous organizations. After training is complete, the law enforcement department taking custody of your dog will inform you of any certifications required and who to contact.
  • Hand them to your local law enforcement agency to begin their service.  Hand your fully-trained police dog to the appropriate law enforcement department so they can start their service. If you want to stay updated on the dog's career and achievements, the agency may give you updates on how the dog is doing.

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