K9 Police Dogs


K9 Unit Community Protector

"STOP, or I'll RELEASE the dog!"

K9 Police Dogs can strike fear into even the most hardened of criminals... Or at the very least, make them a little nervous. The mere threat alone can be sufficient enough for a suspect to give in.

German Shepherd k9

It is no surprise that many police departments utilize the German Shepherd as four legged officers. Their superior intelligence, strength and high trainability make them well suited for this task.

Popular Police K9 Dog Breeds

German Shepherd Police Dogs are a common sight. One of the more popular breeds used in police canine work, other breeds commonly used are:

  • Beagle ("The Beagle Brigade" is used to smell out illicit substances)
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Bloodhound (commonly used for tracking)
  • Dutch Shepherd
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Rottweiler
  • Springer Spaniel (their compact size allows them to easily squeeze into tight spaces where drugs may be hidden)

Police Dog Roles

  • Cadaver Dog
  • Illicit Substances Dog (drugs, explosives and firearms)
  • Public Order Enforcement Dog ("traditional" role in finding, chasing, holding or detaining suspects)
  • Search and Rescue Dog (SAR)
  • Tracking Dog (locate suspects, missing persons or objects)

History of Police Dogs

The first official use of K9's for police service was in Ghent, Belgium in the 1890's.

New York Police Department began an experimental police k9 program with imported dogs from Belgium. Two cities in New Jersey (South Orange and Glen Ridge) began programs in 1910.

Other police departments soon began their programs: Detroit, MI in 1917, Berkeley, CA in 1930, Pennsylvania State Police in 1931 and Connecticut State Police in 1944.

Those Crazy 60's

In the 1960's, the reputation of police dogs was scarred as a result of their use in the civil disputes at the time. Some dogs were misused and seen as law enforcement weapons instead of tools. In 1962, canine programs reached their height in popularity and began a steady decline.

Specialization Emerges

Due to public opinion developed in the previous decade, many police canines were used in friendly demonstrations in schools and public functions. In the 70's, many departments developed specialized canines during this period, including cadaver, explosive, narcotic and search and rescue dogs.

Merger of Minds

The Police Canine Association and the United States K-9 Association merged in 1971 to form the United States Police Canine Association. This is the largest and oldest organization of its kind.

The Court Decides

The 1980's brought expansion of many programs across the country. Methods of law enforcement were heavily influenced by court decisions, public opinion and updated training. Emphasis was placed on "reasonable force" in suspect apprehension. Canines and their handlers were also subject to "direct control."

Sadly, issues surrounding The Fair Labor Standards Act decreased the number of programs across the country in the 1990's. And by 2000, a number of related lawsuits ended many canine programs.


To stem the tide, Police Dog Tactics Training and K-9 Academy instruction began in 1997 for police and rescue dog handlers.

The Model Policy on Law Enforcement Canines was established by the IACP National Law Enforcement Policy Center. Case law volume affecting canine deployment has grown. So has the demand for highly trained dogs.

Today, K9 Police Dogs are used worldwide in various functions, including detection and apprehension.

The Price of Protection

Training of K9 Police Dogs costs over $10,000 per dog. Police K9 training often takes 2 to 3 years.

With budget cutbacks, some police departments may have to replace their current K9 officer with a more economical breed.

Chihuahua K9

In all seriousness, many localities are cutting back on K9 police dogs due to budget constraints.

Several departments with an active K9 unit can't afford protective vests for their four legged partners. At around $700, these vests will protect canine officers from stab wounds and bullets.

These brave dogs perform dangerous work everyday. And they do it loyally and faithfully, to keep us safe.

If you want to help protect those K9 police dogs that protect you, please contact Vest-A-Dog.

A Police Dog's Prayer

Oh almighty God,
whose great power and eternal wisdom
embraces the universe,
watch over my handler while I sleep

Protect my handler from harm
while I am unable to do so
I pray, help keep our streets and homes safe
while my handler and I rest

I ask for your loving care because
my handler's duty is dangerous
Grant my handler your unending strength
and courage in our daily assignments

Dear God,
protect my brave handler,
grant your almighty protection,
unite my handler safely with the family
after the tour of duty has ended

I ask nothing for myself




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