K9 units are law-enforcement police units made of police dog breeds. They’re often part of search and rescue missions and sniffing operations. 

Let’s dive into our top 10 police dogs you should know about.

Dogs to the Rescue: Top 10 Police Dog Breeds

Police officers around the world are responsible for our safety and protection. They exist to protect our livelihood and our freedom. But these officers are just human, so they sometimes require a little extra help from another species.

K9 dog breeds consist of the bravest, most protective, sharp-witted dogs. They’re regular law enforcement employees with the same rights and protection as human police officers. 

Belgian Malinois

Fairly smaller than a German Shepherd, the Belgian Malinois is a force to be reckoned with when fighting crime. Most police dog breeds like Malinois were used as messengers and medicine dogs during the World Wars.


They’re brilliant and obedient, making them very easy to train. These dogs are ready to face any threat and are excellent protectors.


They’re highly esteemed in the military and are considered the perfect choice for delicate missions and operations. If you’re in the military and have a Belgian Malinois, you might want to treat them with some special reward toys for military dogs.


Bloodhound police dog breeds were the very first K9 officers. They played a major role in tracking down Jack The Ripper, a famous serial killer that roamed London in 1988.


Bloodhounds have one of the most powerful senses of smell. Their nose can pick up a track from very far away.


They’re a standard member of narcotics, bomb, and homicide task forces. Also, they’ve been used in missing person cases to track down people. Their strong sense of smell won’t let any culprit go undetected and unpunished.

German Shepherd

German Shepherds are, without a doubt, one of the most popular police dog breeds. When you think of a police dog, a German Shepherd is usually the first breed that comes to mind.


German Shepherds are incredibly smart and easy to train, making them one of the ideal dog breeds for good service dogs. On top of that, they’re incredibly loyal and hardworking.


Their muscular bodies, general obedience, and athletic attributes make German Shepherds the perfect K9 officers. They can run extremely fast and track down any crook who tries to run away.

Belgian Shepherd

Belgian Shepherds are cousins of the German Shepherd, so they’re built for police work. They’ve been used in both World Wards and in police units in the past.


These law enforcement dogs are brilliant, obedient, and intuitive. They have a long thick coat, making them perfect guard dogs in colder parts of the world.


In most cases, law enforcement units use Belgian Shepherds as rescue dogs and aid in search parties. Their obedience makes them the ideal dogs for crowd control.

Labrador Retriever

These aren’t the most common police dogs, but they’re among the most loveable and adorable breeds. Labrador Retrievers help police officers, even more so in recent years.


We all know that a K9 police force needs a strong, sharp-witted dog. And the Labrador can fit this category. These dogs are incredibly responsive to training and very eager to please.


Labrador Retrievers make outstanding detection dogs due to their ability to sniff out prohibited items. Their will to please makes them determined to achieve any goals.

Doberman Pinscher standing in a field

Doberman Pinscher

Dobermans have a superior mental awareness and intimidating physical appearance. This made police units hire them to control riots back in the 1960s, particularly in the US.


Doberman police dogs are natural guardians and fierce protectors, with sharp minds that can obey consistent dog commands in seconds. They won’t hesitate for a moment to carry out a verbal order from their owners.


These dogs are picked out to patrol, secure, or work as search and rescue dogs. But it’s a fairly expensive breed, so you might not see it very often in a K9 unit.


Rottweilers were messenger dogs in both World Wars as their fast pace made them the perfect candidates for this job.


They’re calm, collected, and brilliant. These characteristics of Rottweiler police dog breeds give them an edge when doing police work.


Rottweilers can adapt to any situation and are fairly easy to train. You can trust them, and they make excellent, faithful companions.

Dutch Shepherd

Coming from the Netherlands, the Dutch Shepherd has served as a guard and protection dog, both in the military police and K9 units.


They share similar characteristics as the German Shepherd, but Dutch Shepherds are also excellent at tracking, sniffing, and chasing culprits.


These K9 unit dogs often work in tracking units and search and rescue missions. They’re terrific defense and security dogs.


Beagles aren’t your typical police dog, but they’re among the best sniffing breeds. They’re often employed to find narcotics or even explosives.


They’re incredibly energetic yet laid back. Their friendly personality makes them faithful companions in K9 units.


These dogs can cover a large area and sniff out lost items or find trails of missing persons. They’re considered one of the best police dogs in France.

American Pit Bull Terrier

Pit Bulls are getting more and more incorporated into police units. They’re mainly adopted from shelters and trained to be professional police officers.


Contrary to popular belief that Pit Bulls are aggressive or unreliable dogs, they’re among the most loyal and friendly pets you can have. 


They’re extraordinarily obedient and loyal. They’ve been hired as police k9s sniffing or detecting dogs.

What Does It Take to Be a Four-Legged Officer in a K9 Unit?

There are quite a lot of requirements to be a part of the best team:

  • Health and Agility — Police dogs need to be in perfect shape and health.
  • Strict Size Requirements — Larger isn’t always better. Some smaller breeds like the Beagle make excellent police dogs.
  • Is Dog Age Important? — Dogs usually serve 6–8 years and retire when they get too old or sick.
  • Obedience and Sociability Are a Must — Most police dogs are well-trained, but obedience and sociability traits are a necessary.
  • Hunting Instinct — A police dog needs to be a natural hunter.
  • Courage and Strength — These are general traits for every dog officer.

Types of Police Dog Training

The cost of dog training isn’t cheap, even more so for special classes like these:

  • Detecting Drugs — Dogs have an amazing sense of smell, and this ability is an advantage. They’re taught to detect illegal drugs, so you can find them at airports and border entries.
  • Police Patrol Dogs — They’re trained to obey commands and protect, apprehend or guard certain people or objectives.
  • Tracking Scents — Search and rescue dogs can pick up scents and follow trails. They’re incredibly efficient in tracking down missing people, deceased humans, or suspects.
  • Bomb Detection Training — Specialezd k9 unit dogs are trained to detect explosive devices and alarm their fellow human officers. This is extremely helpful in preventing massive disasters.

Professional Tips on How to Train a Police Dog

Professional dog training is no easy task and requires a lot of time and resources. It usually happens in private facilities for K9 dog breeds with police force trainers. Here are a few tips to make these sessions easy and amusing:

  • Make it fun and entertaining
  • Motivate your dog with treats or toys
  • Make training challenging 
  • Avoid patterns 
  • Don’t overwork your dog
  • Be consistent but not repetitive

Can You Adopt a Retired Police Dog?

Upon retirement, our faithful K9 public servants have a few options for adoption. Their handlers or other service members have an advantage and can decide if they want to adopt their police officer dogs.

Another option for these retired dogs is adoption by the general public. Ensure the dog is a good fit for your family and conduct proper research if you decide to do that. Be mindful of the physical and diet requirements. Some dogs need special food. You can check out our Pure Balance food review for active dogs.

Final Words

Police dog breeds represent a vital part of our protection units. These dogs are equal task force members and are closely connected with their handlers and other service members. 

They’re incredibly eager to please and conduct their activities professionally and respectfully. Police dogs are the perfect example of how two species can work together, aside from being the best of friends.

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