In the canine world, a German shepherd is a large breed of dog that has an extraordinary intelligence level. This breed hails from Germany, and it is just over one century old, which makes it a relatively new strain. They make awesome family pets, as well as skillful working dogs in the lines of law enforcement (LE.) police dogs that work within the realms of LE, are called K-9, which is short for the canine. K-9 or police dogs units exist in almost every community in the United States. They commonly work with officers at the county, state, and federal levels. In addition, German shepherds are employed by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF.)
First, let’s look at the basic characteristics of the German shepherd and at the reasons why they make such marvelous police dogs. It takes more than just their intelligence and good looks to get them hired for the job. Traits that set them apart from the other breeds include a natural curiosity, athletic ability, and the desire to perform a job. Total obedience is also required of these amazing animals, under any circumstance and environment. This is why there are more German shepherd police dogs than any other breed.
Characteristics Of German Shepherd Police Dogs
Its sense of curiosity helps to keep this clever shepherd focused during search and rescue missions, and its keen sense of smell aids it in finding drugs and explosives. In larger cities, a K-9 team has many more police dogs so each one can specialize in a single area such as weapon detection. However, smaller towns that only have a single K9 dog or police dog make it necessary for that one to receive training in all areas of police assistance. This includes sidewalk patrolling, suspect apprehension, and corpse finding missions. All areas of the USA would benefit from the use of police dogs.
German shepherds are quick at learning hand signals by sight, and they eagerly obey commands given by their owner or trainer. When in training, their desire to learn is evident, and it soon turns to pride and self-assuredness as they go through their routines. However, real-life action brings into play the animal’s intellect, as it sometimes must decide on which skills to use if it is separated from its handler. This makes for excellent police dogs.
Additionally, German shepherds as police dogs are highly protective of their owners and territory, which makes them perfect partners for LE officers. Police dogs who ride alongside officers in a patrol car are very protective of the vehicle and the officer’s equipment. The job of a guard dog is also a good one for this type of dog as long as there are enough mental stimuli to keep it from becoming bored.
What Makes Good Police Dogs or k9′s ?
Physically, the German shepherd is dignified and a beautiful dog to behold. Their stand-up ears add an alert look to their chiseled face, which features a long snout. One way to recognize a full-blooded German shepherd is by the bump on the upper part of their nose near the bridge. Their coloring is tan or red with a black saddle and mask, brindle, black or white. Additionally, their strength is apparent in their build, which is lean and muscular if they are active. These hardy dogs have a double coat of hair that causes them to shed quite a bit.
Although German shepherds have many good qualities, these are the most pronounced:
- Handsome and powerfully built
- Intelligent and eager-to-please
- Devoted and dependable
- Strong-willed and courageous
- Obedient and protective
- Handy and agile
Training Police Dogs for Work
First, only dogs that have proven good temperaments are entered into training programs to become K-9 police dogs. Any German shepherd that displays signs of over-aggressiveness or an inability to focus and engage in their exercises is not right for this job of becoming a police dog. Moreover, a good candidate for becoming a K-9 or police dog must be 100 percent predictable and reliable because their future partner’s life can depend on it.
Before they begin training for police work, German shepherds must first master advanced obedience training. Next, they must pass agility training on an obstacle course and learn to track by scent and by sight. Once the dog masters all of those skills, it is time to learn the art of protection and apprehension. This is where a special trainer begins bite-work training with the dog, using a padded bite-sleeve. The German shepherd is taught how to knock down a perpetrator and keep them there by biting down on the person’s arm. This is called the bite-and-hold command.
Programs Dedicated To Helping Working Police Dogs
Like any human police officer, a police dog works with the threat of getting shot or receiving another injury as part of its job. It is important for K-9 dogs to wear bullet-repelling safety vests, but some police departments are unable to find funds for them. Donations from the public are welcomed and appreciated.
Additionally, emergency and routine care need to come up. Police dogs need vaccinations, flea and tick treatment, and regular exams. Thanks to the wonderful veterinarians and vet technical assistants who work for reduced rates or give their services free of charge, many K-9 dogs recover from injuries and continue to work at safeguarding the public.
Furthermore, police dogs must stay in shape with regular exercise just like any other athlete. Accidents are more likely to happen to a dog that does not receive ongoing training, exercise, and warm-ups. The National Police Dog Foundation (NPDF) helps K-9 handlers by being their ally and advocate for medical concerns like snakebite, all types of wounds, and accidental drug ingestion, among other hazards. The NPDF can also assist an officer in finding the closest veterinarian who provides free or greatly reduced fees for medical emergencies.
German shepherd K-9s or police dogs are considered officers of their department, equal to their human counterparts. They are given badges and treated to the same funeral processions as are all police officers. K-9 police work is a noble cause that seems fitting for such a noble breed of dog.