Our Heroes: The Many Jobs of Police Dogs

Police dog.

Humans have had close relationships with dogs for millennia. The primary jobs of clever canines were hunting, guarding, herding, and guiding, and they also served in the military. Europe in the Middle Ages saw an increase in lawlessness, and villages were individually tasked with protecting their citizenry. Citizens started deploying bloodhounds to keep people safe, and ever since, police dogs have been an integral part of law enforcement. 

Serve and Protect

Police dogs, or K-9s, are highly trained members of law enforcement. Their service typically lasts between 6-9 years. During this time, their handlers lean on them to assist with tracking and trailing suspected criminals. Furthermore, their incredible detection skills make them irreplaceable members of any team. 

Police dogs are employed at the state, county, and local levels of law enforcement. They are also integral members of Homeland Security teams, where you may see them working at major transportation hubs. In airports, specifically, they have been credited with deterring terrorist activities. 

Who Are They?

The most common breed of police dogs is German Shepherds. However, Belgian Malinois, bloodhounds, basset hounds, and labrador retrievers are employed with widespread regularity. Each breed has their own skill set, and some mixed breed dogs serve multiple functions to police units. 

Did you know that it is a felony to intentionally injure or kill a police dog? Because of their invaluable service, and the degree to which we rely on their skills, they receive justice for any ill-intent.

Beyond the Basics

Police dogs participate in rigorous training. In addition to impeccable adherence to basic obedience training, they must demonstrate absolute control of themselves with no hesitation.

There are two distinctions between police dogs. Some strictly work patrol. This means they support law enforcement that are out on duty with suspect apprehension, officer protection, and general security. Other police dogs are exclusively trained to find narcotics or explosives (not both).

Essential Assets

Further grouped into two categories, police dogs are trained to be single or dual purpose. Single purpose police dogs assist with patrol or detection. They may also lend support for tracking missing people or detecting cadavers. Dual purpose police dogs use multiple skills for narcotic divisions. They sniff the perimeter of property, like a vehicle, and if they signal, law enforcement gains the ability to search without a warrant. 

Like Family

Police dogs usually live with the officers they are paired with. They must be carefully provided for since they are never truly “off duty.” The handlers must understand all of the important needs of police dogs, and work with them every day with positive reinforcement and vigorous exercise. Police dogs are intelligent, active, and social, and make excellent companions. 

Thankful for Police Dogs

Police dogs provide important services to our local and national governments. They are tireless in their loyalty and deserving of awe and respect. All of us at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates honor and appreciate our nation’s police dogs!

As always, please give us a call at (248) 646–5655 with any questions or concerns about your own special pups or kitties.