Facts about the animal kingdom

What Are the Best Breeds of Police Dogs?

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: January 19, 2017
What Are the Best Breeds of Police Dogs?

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Police dogs have always aroused curiosity and a certain expectation in people. A dog's sense of smell has been, and continues to be, one of the most important tools used by security forces. Quite simply, dogs are the best analysts and detectives that anyone can have working in their team.

In this AnimalWised article we will discuss the different types of police dogs, the most common breeds that collaborate with law enforcement and retired police dogs: the most in-demand veterans for adoption. Keep reading and discover what are the best breeds of police dogs.

  1. What types of police dogs are there?
  2. Intervention dogs
  3. Detection and forensic-sniffing dogs
  4. Forensic dogs
  5. Search and rescue dogs
  6. Retired police dogs

What types of police dogs are there?

Police forces around the world use different dog breeds to benefit from their particular skills and abilities. Police work includes various tasks, to which some breeds are better suited than others. The main areas of police intervention with dogs are distributed as follows:

  • Intervention dogs. Searching for criminals, rescuing hostages, protection, riot control. They include sentry and attack dogs.
  • Detection and explosive-sniffing dogs. Customs control, explosives, smuggling.
  • Forensics. Searching for bodies, searching for clues, identification rounds.
  • Search and rescue dogs. Avalanches, collapsed buildings, tracking.

Intervention dogs

Malinois dogs

Experts currently say that the Malinois is the best police dog in every respect. It is a powerful and athletic dog of remarkable intelligence. Here you can learn all about caring for a Malinois dog.

German Shepherd

The German shepherd is another notable dog, but its acceptance in lines of work is increasingly limited. This is because the beauty lines of this breed have largely distorted its athletic capabilities, in many cases causing the onset of serious hereditary problems. We recommend our article on the origin of the German Shepherd, its history and some fun facts.

Within the repressive functions, apart from the two aforementioned breeds, the Doberman Pinscher and the Rottweiler are also used by official bodies.

What Are the Best Breeds of Police Dogs? - Intervention dogs

Detection and forensic-sniffing dogs

In customs control and the detection of banned substances, a dog's sense of smell is prioritized over its athletic ability. This is why most detection dogs come from hunting breeds. The dog breeds most commonly used by the police for this purpose are:

Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever has a great sense of smell and is enormously intelligent, which makes it amazingly good for police detection tasks, along many others. Here you can learn more about the different types of retriever dogs.


This is a dog with an extraordinary sense of smell and an uninhibited character, and it is very efficient in drug control.


The foxhound, who looks like a larger Beagle, has an excellent sense of smell.

Other dogs used in these tasks include the Basset Hound, the Bloodhound, the English Cocker Spaniel, the Springer Spaniel and the German Shorthaired Pointer. In public spaces like airports the police prefers to use friendly and small breeds, as they don't scare the passengers.

What Are the Best Breeds of Police Dogs? - Detection and forensic-sniffing dogs

Forensic dogs

Dogs used in forensics have a very keen sense of smell, good athletic ability and are very tenacious. Some of these dogs are particularly trained to detect cadavers, which have a distinct smell, while other forensic dogs overlap with search and rescue tasks.


This is a dog with exceptional smelling abilities and tenacity, and it is the sniffer dog par excellence. It can pick up and track traces that are up to 15 days old. The Bloodhound is in the list of Vulnerable Native Breeds in the UK.

Short-hair Dutch Shepherd

This muscular dog is increasingly used in all types of police work, even if it doesn't handle the heat very well. The long-hair and rough-hair Dutch Shepherds, however, aren't used as much.

Spanish Water Dog

This intelligent breed can complete very peculiar tasks. It detects drugs, poisoned food - very useful in forest police who persecute hunters with bad practices - and accompanies fishermen and maritime police.

The Malinois and the German Shepherd are also extremely good at these tasks.

What Are the Best Breeds of Police Dogs? - Forensic dogs

Search and rescue dogs

When disasters happen, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, or avalanches, the police and rescue forces need to work with very intelligent, strong and vigilant dogs. The best breeds used by the police and firefighters include:

German Shepherd and Malinois

Thanks to their intelligence, courage and ability to learn, the German Shepherd and the Malionis are widely used in rescue work. These breeds have a very tough character and an inexhaustible strength. They are very intelligent, which is perhaps why they are repeated in this list of the best breeds of police dogs.

Giant Schnauzer

This dog has a very active temperament that needs to carry out a heavy workload. It is very intelligent and strong.

What Are the Best Breeds of Police Dogs? - Search and rescue dogs

Retired police dogs

Police dogs are retired when they grow older and start to lose their abilities, making way for younger and more energetic dogs. They can also be injured on the line of duty; a dog that is killed performing police, military or rescue services is awarded the same honors as their partners.

These dogs are very respected for their work, and many NGOs focus on finding them new adoptive families to spend their later years in peace and quiet with loving human companions.

When police dogs in the United States retire they get a retirement annuity fund. This allows their adoptive families to give retired police dogs the best possible care and allows all their needs to be met.

What Are the Best Breeds of Police Dogs? - Retired police dogs

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1 comment
Jugal singh
Iam a animal lover..I just love these dogs soo much ...I want to adopt retired dog ...pls contact me
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Jugal,

We can't help with your adoption, but you can go to your local animal shelter or animal hospice to find out more about adoption. It is the best thing you can do for the greater cat community as well as the soon-to-be new member of your family.
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What Are the Best Breeds of Police Dogs?