As a dog breed, German Shepherds are well known for their versatility in adapting to many different types of situations.
One of the working fields that German Shepherds excel at is police dog work.
But, why are German Shepherds used as police dogs, and what makes them good at this type of work?
Although we’ve already done a general guide on German Shepherds as police dogs, we’ve put together this guide to answer this ‘why’ question specifically.
Let’s look at it a bit deeper…
Why Are German Shepherds Used As Police Dogs?
German Shepherds make good police dogs for the following reasons…
- They bond well with their owner/handler
- They are obedient
- The working lines are bred to have strong nerves, and a stable temperament – making them good for high risk and high tension activities
- They are one of the most intelligent dog breeds and can perform difficult tasks – detection and tracking in particular
- They are loyal
- They are protective
- They have a high working ability
- They are physically capable – athletic and strong, along with good stamina – able to attack, apprehend, protect and focus or patrol for long period
Why do German Shepherds possess these traits and such a temperament? – GSD breed history
German Shepherds as a dog breed were originally bred to be the ultimate working dog.
This meant they were bred to have the physical and mental traits to perform a range of working tasks, but also be intensely loyal and obedient to their master.
Although German Shepherds are attractive as a breed, their appearance was not a primary priority for early breeding apart from having the physical traits to work (strong and stable bodies).
Further to this, as the German Shepherd breed evolved into the 1900’s, there became both working lines and show lines.
Show lines may still have had working ability, but they were primarily bred for a specific appearance and to have the movements for show conformance.
The working lines on the other hand were bred to have superior health (healthy hips and elbows), great temperaments and of course a strong working ability.
If we use the East German/DDR GSD as an example, they were bred specifically to help the East German military.
You can read more about the different lines in this guide about the origins, history and evolution of the German Shepherd breed.
In modern times, there are breeders who breed German Shepherds specifically for police work – making strong nerves, supreme health, an even temperament, advanced training, and of course a big appetite to work a strong priority.
How Are Police Dogs Used In Real Life?
In modern times, most police dogs come from the working lines (you can tell the working lines straight away from their dark sable colorings, compared to the show lines’ black and tan colorings), but show lines can excel in police work too.
They are used in a range of activities including but not limited to tracking, detection, protection, patrol, apprehension and search and rescue.
Having parents and a bloodline that display a strong working ability + the physical and mental traits for police work are desirable in the parents of the puppy when being selected for police dog training.
Training might take place with a third party breeder or training organisation, or the police force might have their own internal kennels and training facilities.
Police dog in action:
Police puppy in training:
Not Every German Shepherd Makes A Great Police Dog Though…
Even German Shepherds from the strongest working lines might not be suitable for police work…