Best 12 Police Dog Breeds You Should Know

Aside from being man’s best friend and companion, dogs can also be used for various purposes like security, and investigation. Some dog breeds, in terms of size, senses, intelligence, and trainability, are better equipped than others to play a working role, for example, in the police force.

Dog breeds used by the police force, military, and emergency workers are generally intelligent, aggressive, strong, and fearless in their loyalty to their owners. These canines are willing to step into hazardous situations and restricted areas. While breeds like German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois are obvious selections, you might be surprised by some of the other breeds used.

In this article, we would be looking at the best 12 police dog breeds available, and what makes them stand out. Without further ado, let’s jump into our list of brave, intelligent, hard-working police dog breeds.

Best Police Dog Breeds

  1. German Shepherd
  2. Belgian Malinois
  3. Rottweiler
  4. Doberman Pinscher
  5. Boxers
  6. Bloodhound
  7. Labrador Retriever
  8. Dutch Shepherd
  9. Giant Schnauzer 
  10. Beagle
  11. American Pit Bull Terrier
  12. German Shorthaired Pointer

1. German Shepherd

police dog breeds

When it has anything to do with the best police dog breeds, the German Shepherd is no doubt the best breed. The German Shepherd is by far the most common breed used by police departments nationwide. 

They are always fearless and are extremely smart, easily trained, and appropriate for a variety of police missions, including tracking criminals, sniffing out drugs, assisting with search-and-rescue operations, bomb squads, and apprehending armed criminals.

German Shepherds are not only brave and intelligent, but they are also strong, fast, and devoted. They are energetic dogs that enjoy being busy and being on their paws (or, feet) all day. These adorable dogs often have lifespans of 10 to 14 years and weigh between 70 and 100 pounds.

German Shepherds, as herding dogs, are fast to learn how to respond to instructions and quick to impose order in a given situation. They are also fearless, fast, energetic, and intellectual, making them ideal for the police force.

2. Belgian Malinois

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The second dog on our list of best police dog breeds is the Belgian Malinois. The Belgian Malinois is a confident, devoted dog with a powerful, muscular frame. These upper-edged working dogs assist people with a variety of tasks such as herding cattle, serving as superb guard dogs, and assisting law enforcement.

Malinois and German shepherds are frequently confused. The Malinois is often a little bit smaller than its German counterparts, despite the fact that there are obvious similarities between the two. Not only that, but due to their smaller frame, you can be assured that the Malinois is more athletic than German Shepherds.

Belgian Malinois are renowned for their fast reaction time, strong defense instinct, loyalty, and intelligence, all of which make them one of the most preferred police dog breeds.

Belgian Malinois are commonly used by police as general-purpose dogs, which are frequently required to track, find, catch, and apprehend criminals who have fled a crime scene on foot. However, they are becoming increasingly popular as narcotics or bomb-search dogs, and they may soon outweigh German Shepherds trained for these jobs.

3. Rottweiler

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Rottweilers, sometimes known as “Rotties,” have powerful, muscular bodies, as well as bold and loving hearts. These lively dogs enjoy keeping themselves busy, making them one of the best police dog breeds.

These dogs are extremely loyal, clever, and eager to serve their owners, but they benefit from continuous training sessions to keep them sharp. Rottweilers and Rottweiler mixes have a calm confidence that allows them to do their job in high-pressure situations.

Rottweilers are currently used as guard dogs, police dogs, search and rescue dogs, and military dogs. Rottweilers have a long history of serving as messenger dogs in the United States military. These dogs were used to convey urgent messages from one base to another during both World Wars I and II.

Here are some other dogs with the strongest bites

4. Doberman Pinscher

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Doberman Pinschers are huge muscular dogs with slender frames and clipped ears. They are well-known for being fiercely loyal and obedient to their masters. That is why they make excellent guard dogs.

Dobermans are also exceptionally intelligent dogs, ranking fifth among the most intelligent dog breed. With both intellect and brawn, it’s no surprise that these canines are frequently used by police departments.

These dogs are also incredibly loyal, clever, and have an eager-to-please disposition. These dogs require a lot of mental and physical exercise during the day because they have such an active system. As a result, working with a police team can be extremely beneficial for these dogs provided they receive adequate training.

Just like the German Shepherd, this intimidating-looking breed has been used in police service for many decades. While they are popular, they are not as commonly used as other police dog breeds mentioned above.

5. Boxers

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Boxers are an extremely adaptable dog breed that served as guard and patrol dogs alongside military personnel in WW1 and WW2, and this is what they’re best known for when it comes to their past as working dogs.

Boxers are smart, calm, and friendly dogs that adapt well to training and are well-suited for law enforcement work. The breed is widely employed for policing in Germany and several other European countries, but they are not popular with American police departments, and it is uncommon to see them serving as police dogs in the United States.

A male Box can stand up to 25 inches at the shoulder while females are a little smaller. They have furrowed brows and dark brown eyes that give them an alert appearance. The coat is a brindle or fawn color with white markings.

6. Bloodhound

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Bloodhound is another useful canine when it comes to police dog breeds. Because of their keen sense of smell, bloodhounds were among the earliest dogs used in the police force. They typically live between 12 and 15 years and require extensive early training to ensure that they follow their noses when trained to do so.

These dogs have one of the most potent scent organs in canines and can track a lost person weeks after they have gone missing. However, they can only do this through consistent and obedience training.

Due to their extraordinary sense of smell and tracking ability, bloodhounds started gaining traction as hunting gun dogs and were later employed as police dogs.

Although they are no longer widely used, they are an example of an old-school police dog that made officers’ jobs simpler when they wanted to find criminals.

7. Labrador Retriever

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The Labrador Retriever may not be the first dog that comes to mind when considering the best police dog breeds, but his loyal, smart, and trainable character makes him a surprisingly good choice on the list.

Labrador retrievers are muscular, athletic, and full of energy, so they can work a full day without tiring. These dogs also form strong bonds with their owners and are willing to please them, especially in stressful situations.

Furthermore, the amiable attitude of this popular breed makes him ideal for working in close quarters with the general population. The Labrador Retriever was originally bred as a hunting gun dog, sniffing out and retrieving game.

They are now also used as bomb and narcotics detection dogs and are considered one of the most popular police dog breeds in the United States. They also patrol airports and harbors alongside their handlers, ensuring that nothing suspicious enters their respective countries.

8. Dutch Shepherd

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The Dutch Shepherd is a canine breed that is extremely similar to the German Shepherd and is quite popular among police departments in Europe but is rarely seen in the United States.

The Dutch Shepherd is loyal, clever, protective, and non-aggressive. They learn quickly, are enthusiastic workers, and are generally considered simpler to handle than both the German Shepherd and the Belgian Malinois, making them ideal for foot patrols through crowded, small streets.

Dutch shepherds are extremely active dogs who will thrive on the mental and physical stimulation that comes with being a member of a K-9 team. These adaptable, healthy canine friends will undoubtedly be treasured members of any police force.

9. Giant Schnauzer 

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The Giant Schnauzer is a large yet quiet canine breed that is cautious around strangers and has been used as a K-9 officer for many years.

They’re also uncommon as police dog breeds in the United States, owing to the fact that they entered the field considerably later than the other police dog breeds described above.

With its immense energy and stature, the Giant Schnauzer, which can grow up to 27 inches tall, can frighten criminals who stand in their way.

Giant Schnauzers were utilized as working dogs for the Air Force during WWII, and they have held the distinction of being one of the only breeds to have served with the Air Force ever since.

They can be taught specialized skills such as odor detection, enclosure searches, and obedience. A Giant Schnauzer, in comparison to the smaller breed, makes quite a statement and can be intimidating to humans and other animals. With their lengthy face fur, they may appear fluffy or even amusing to some, but there’s a reason they’re utilized as police dogs.

10. Beagle

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Beagles are one of several popular dog breeds that also make excellent police dogs. A beagle may not be able to catch a running suspect, but these small canines make superb police dogs.

Beagles, in particular, have a high sense of smell, making them ideal for scent-tracking and detection-based nose work activities.

Their tiny to medium size also allows them to perform specialized activities that larger dogs would find improper or difficult. These dogs prefer being busy and will benefit from having a daily list of duties to focus on and keep them occupied.

Beagles might have a stubborn attitude or be difficult to train on occasion. Therefore, any beagle selected for police work should be trained carefully for responsiveness and obedience. 

11. American Pit Bull Terrier

police dog breeds

The American pit bull terrier is very clever and well-suited for a range of police missions.

These muscular and agile dogs are often used for patrolling and detection, but they also make excellent protectors and guard dogs. They are quick and fearless pursuers of criminals when directed, and their nose can detect a wide range of substances.

Because of their reputation as fighting dogs, they are extremely dangerous in aggressive crowd control and domestic violence scenarios. The American pit bull terrier can be bold, courageous, athletic, quick, and strong.

Despite the negative connotation linked to the American Pit Bull Terrier, numerous police departments in the United States have been deploying American Pit Bulls as detection dogs in recent years.

12. German Shorthaired Pointer

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The German Shorthaired Pointer is the ideal dog breed for the police force since they are friendly by nature but incredibly hardworking.

The German Shorthaired Pointer breed is well-known for its speed, endurance, power, and agility. Positive training, physical exercise, and a lot of attention are essential for these dogs. The male German Shorthaired Pointer is 23 to 25 inches tall and weighs up to 70 pounds.

The fur is patterned in liver and white. These fuzzy pals’ dark eyes sparkle with kindness and enthusiasm.

These dogs are being used in special law enforcement groups all around the world. They specialize in the detection of illegal substances and are commonly employed in aviation security.

German Shorthaired Pointers have also been observed tracing evidence at crime scenes alongside detectives.


What do Police Dogs Do?

Police dogs are well known for a variety of use cases which includes;

  • Drug Sniffing

    Dogs have a whopping 225 million scent receptors compared to a human’s 5 million, so it’s no surprise that these competent canines help sniff out drugs and other illicit substances. Police dogs can help with narcotics detection through their super sniffers.
  • Search and Rescue

    Search and rescue dogs (also called SAR dogs) are trained to track down people lost after a natural disaster, in the wilderness, or otherwise. These heroic search and rescue hounds are trained to hone in on a specific scent and follow their noses to complete their mission for any law enforcement agency.
  • Explosive Detection

    Police pups can also be trained to detect bombs or explosives. Police dogs are also able to access hard-to-reach areas as an added advantage. Note that dogs specialized in explosive detection are not cross-trained to detect drugs or other substances. 
  • Other Types of Contraband

    The major role of these trained dogs includes sniffing out other types of contraband including exotic animals, food, arms, and more on and off a crime scene. Note that this type of work might not always be with actual police forces but with customs and security workers instead.
  • Patrol

    Police dogs can also be trained to monitor and protect a certain area. These patrolling pups can also be trained to protect their handlers or apprehend suspects with verbal or non-verbal cues. These types of police pooches might also assist in crowd control.

What is the Most Used Police Dog?

The most commonly used breeds are the Belgian Malinois, German Shepherd, Bloodhound, Dutch Shepherd, and Labrador Retriever. In recent years, research has proven that the Belgian Malinois has become the most used police dog for police and military work due to its intense drive, focus, agility, and smaller size.


Dogs are well-known for being loyal, caring, clever, and hardworking animals. Their link with humans is extremely strong, and many of them would risk their own lives to save the life of their owners.

They also have exceptional senses that help them track humans and other objects like drugs from a distance.

With these canine facts in mind, it’s no surprise that they are a man’s best friend and are frequently called upon to serve alongside military personnel, firefighters, and police officers.

This concludes our take on the top 12 police dog breeds. Which one of these dogs do you think is best suited for the force? Let us know your thoughts.

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