You are currently viewing 10 Popular Dog Breeds Used In Police K9 Work

10 Popular Dog Breeds Used In Police K9 Work

Police K9s are a valuable asset to every police department. They help officers with tasks humans cannot accomplish – whether detecting illegal substances, tracking suspects, or other duties. A police dog can be trained for many functions, but some breeds are preferred by K9 trainers and law enforcement alike due to their physical abilities or ability to learn skills effectively.

While it is common to see German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois employed by police departments, many breeds can uphold the duties of a police dog! In this article, we’ll go over the most common police dog breeds and detail why they make great K9s.

Belgian Malinois

belgian malinois police k9

The Belgian Malinois is one of the most popular police dog breeds. It is a breed with high energy that thrives when given a job to do. The Malinois has a high drive to please their owners and make excellent police dog candidates. This breed can be trained to do virtually any task that law enforcement teams require, from sniffing explosives and illegal substances to tracking suspects.

The Malinois has a keen nose with an agile frame that easily overcomes obstacles to detect what they are trained to find. It is also an extremely intelligent dog breed, and is able to absorb training like a sponge.

German Shepherd

officer with german shepherd

German Shepherds have been closely working with law enforcement for decades. When thinking of a police dog, the German Shepherd is often the first breed that comes to mind. They are arguably the most commonly sighted dog breed in police work. GSDs are great K9 candidates for several reasons – they are intelligent, and have great endurance and willingness to work next to their handlers. 

Law enforcement officers deploy German Shepherds for various tasks, such as detecting drugs and explosives, apprehending criminals, and participating in search and rescue missions. GSDs especially do well in stressful situations and manage to keep their cool at all times to ensure the given task is complete. They are highly responsive to commands and don’t have problems being called off a bite when asked. These traits and physical capabilities make the GSD an excellent dog breed for law enforcement.


k9 officer and bloodhound

The Bloodhound may not be the most agile dog breed, but it has the most sensitive nose of all breeds. When law enforcement teams need to track and find something, Bloodhounds have what it takes. Originally bred to hunt, police departments benefit from the keen nose of Bloodhounds that can follow a scent to its end point.

These dogs have a calm temperament that makes them easy to work with, even for new K9 handlers. These dogs can find anything with the proper training, from criminals and missing people to illegal substances from a mile away.


boxer dog police k9

The Boxer is a fearless dog breed with a desire to please their handlers. They were the first dog breed selected for police training in Germany. Boxer police dogs are more common in Europe, though there is a sizeable number in the US.

The obedient nature of this breed enables them to be utilized in many areas of police work, but they specialize in protecting law enforcement officers in the line of duty. Boxers are alert, energetic, and intelligent dogs that love to stay busy.

Labrador Retriever

labrador detection dog

The Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog breed in the United States. They also have a prominent place in law enforcement teams. Labs are naturals at finding things, as they were genetically bred for locating game. This inherent ability makes them perfect detection dogs alongside law enforcement teams. Labradors are also one of the preferred dog breeds of the FBI, favored for their calm personalities. 

Law enforcement teams utilize Labrador Retrievers in any scenario, but primarily in public spaces for detection work, such as airports or schools, as they have a familiar face to the general public. Labrador Retrievers make well-rounded police dogs with an eagerness to please their handlers and learn new things.

Doberman Pinscher

doberman pinscher police dog

The Doberman Pinscher is an intimidating dog breed with a tall, muscular frame. They are fearless dogs with an instinct to protect. They make particularly good police dogs for physically demanding situations. Dobermans can be trained to track and detect anything, and their muscular build makes them fierce attack dogs for SWAT teams.

Dobermans are great police dogs, but they aren’t a good fit for every police department. They lack a thick undercoat that doesn’t do well in cold climates. Doberman Pinscher police dogs are better suited for law enforcement teams in warmer conditions.

Giant Schnauzer

giant schnauzer police dog

The Giant Schnauzer is one of the most versatile working dog breeds. Like other working dogs, they thrive when they have a job. This makes them a great fit for K9 work. They have high energy and drive to achieve tasks. 

Giant Schnauzers are adaptable police dogs that can be deployed for various duties. They excel at contraband detection, suspect tracking, and protecting officers in the field. They also have a natural protective instinct that makes them one of the best police dogs for security.


beagle police k9

The Beagle is a smaller dog breed with a strong sense of smell. The Beagle’s sweet looks and small size makes them the perfect police dog for public spaces. It doesn’t intimidate the general public and makes a stealthy police dog.

Beagle K9s mainly work at airports to detect illegal substances. The small size of this breed is advantageous to law enforcement officers. Beagles can fit in tight spaces to search for illegal substances, and officers can lift them into places they are unable to reach.

Cane Corso

cane corso police military k9

The Cane Corso is an intimidating dog breed with a muscular body, like the Doberman Pinscher. This breed is physically and mentally capable of being an excellent K9 candidate. They have one of the strongest bite forces of all dog breeds, which makes them feared among criminals and intruders.

The physical abilities of the Cane Corso enable them to be the perfect patrol K9 and surveillance companion for law enforcement officers. The loyalty to their owners and the natural instinct to protect adds to this, making them fierce protection dogs for law enforcement.

German Shorthaired Pointer

german shorthaired pointer detection k9

German Shorthaired Pointers are incredibly hard-working dogs that form strong bonds with their handlers. They have a friendly temperament that makes them the perfect police dog for public spaces. Like the Labrador Retriever, the German Shorthaired Pointer mainly works in front of the general public.

The hunting origins give the German Shorthaired Pointer a sharp nose, perfect for sniffing contrabands, illegal substances, and explosives. Law enforcement officers also benefit from the work of these dogs during patrol and surveillance work.

Dutch Shepherd

dutch shepherd police k9

The Dutch Shepherd is an adaptable working dog breed that upholds many duties, including Police K9 work. The breed resembles the German Shepherd but is easily distinguishable with their coat color and athletic build. 

These dogs are very responsive to commands. They love having a job to do and are competent police dogs with an obedient and loyal nature. Dutch Shepherd K9s perform commands reliably, and are eager to please their handlers by completing their given tasks.

In conclusion

Regardless of their breed, Police K9s play a vital role in keeping our communities safe. At Highland Canine Training, LLC, we have experience of training a variety of breeds for police and military work! Browse our police dogs for sale or contact us today for more information.