10 Bravest, Most Common Breeds of Police Dogs

It takes a special kind of dog to be a police K9. They have to be trainable to perform complicated tasks, for one. Here are 10 common police dog breeds.

Police dog breeds protect and serve, which is something man's best friend is already great at! It's no secret that dogs have been (and still are!) working alongside humans for centuries. While dogs were mainly used for hunting and protecting, and some as lap warmers, back in the day, working dogs today are mostly used in herding and all sorts of police work in law enforcement.

Police dogs are trained to carry out a set of specialized and complicated tasks with their handlers. They need to be highly trainable, possess great tenacity and working agility to be able to perform said tasks, and have a willingness to cooperate. While most of us immediately think of a German Shepherd taking down bad guys when we think of police dogs, there are actually three basic jobs that the K-9 unit of any police force is required to perform: Apprehension, Search and Rescue, and Detection.

Simply put: not all dogs can be a police dog! Here are the 10 bravest and most common police dog breeds out there, perfect for any police department!

10 Common Police Dog Breeds

1. German Shepherd

German Shepherd sits with handler

It's no wonder why the German Shepherd dog is the most well-known police dog in the United States, if not the world. These K9 police officers make great police dogs; they are incredibly versatile and excel in all aspects of police work, and they exhibit all the qualities that make them the perfect police dog.

2. Bloodhound

bloodhound sits on lawn

As the first dog breed ever to work in the K-9 unit of law enforcement agencies, the Bloodhound was certainly the O.G. police dog. It's one of the best search and rescue dogs: they have a remarkable sense of smell and are primarily used as tracking dogs. These amazing sniffers can find a needle in a haystack, tracking missing persons for up to 2 weeks!

3. Beagle

beagle stands on rocks by a lake

As police dogs, Beagles are used as detection dogs, often sniffing out narcotics and illegal substances such as hidden contraband in airports and customs border zones. The small size of these narcotics detection dogs makes them great for maneuvering around stacks of luggage in airports — making them excellent narcotic-finding patrol dogs.

4. Belgian Malinois

belgian malinois stands in the snow

A smaller version of the German Shepherd, the Belgian Malinois is also perfect for various kinds of police work. They are known to be great as military dogs and with the same traits as the GSD, their smaller size makes them quicker to react to any unexpected bad-guy chases.

5. Labrador Retriever

black lab sits in a pile of leaves

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Even though commonly thought of just as a great family pet, Retrievers can also make great police dogs. Their willing-to-please nature makes them easy to train, and combined with their good sense of smell, they are often used in search and rescue missions detecting survivors of various disasters, making them a great police dog breed.

6. Rottweiler

Rottweiler stands in grass

The Rottie is a great police dog breed. They are one of the most loyal breeds and highly intelligent — their physical build is powerful enough to take down any bad guy, and their focus on the task at hand is perfect for all sorts of police work.

7. Doberman Pinscher

doberman lays in the grass

Lean, swift (they run really fast!), and athletic, the Doberman makes one good police dog. They are intelligent and fearless: a perfect combo for apprehension — they are primarily trained to run after a fleeing criminal and take them down by grabbing their arm and pulling them to the ground.

8. Boxer


During World War I and II, Boxers mainly served as guard dogs and messenger dogs, relaying messages between battle troops. These days, these war dogs are just really great police dogs; they are used mostly in law enforcement agencies in Europe.

9. German Shorthaired Pointer

German Shorthair stands in the grass

Like Bloodhounds, this police dog breed is known for its sharp sense of smell. As police dogs, they are often used for tracking missing persons or as cadaver dogs.

10. American Pit Bull Terrier

American pitbull sits in leaves

With the intimidation factor being one of its perks, the Pit Bull is also intelligent, brave & courageous, and obedient, having the qualities and the mentality to be a great police dog. No wonder why these dogs are being taken out of animal rescues and trained in things like obedience and responsiveness for a second chance.

Does your pooch have what it takes to be a great police dog? Let us know your thoughts on the Wide Open Pets Facebook page!

This article was originally published January 8, 2021.

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