Why Are German Shepherds Used As Police Dogs?

German Shepherds have gained a reputation for being tough, rough, and mean dogs from their work and media presence. In movies and shows, German Shepherds can be seen working with both the police and gang leaders in order to sniff out any concerning person. In the real world, German Shepherds are often seen being police or general service dogs. 

Why Are German Shepherds Used as Police Dogs 1 Why Are German Shepherds Used As Police Dogs?

Why Are German Shepherds Used as Police Dogs?

German Shepherds are used as police dogs for their intelligence, loyalty, and athletic ability. Due to diligent breeding, German Shepherds have many qualities that make them excel at being police dogs. 

German Shepherds have a history that is tied to the working-dog world. These dogs were originally bred in the late 1800s by Max von Stephanitz to create the perfect working dog. 

The traits that this breeder looked for made German Shepherds perfect for many different kinds of work from their original police work to their sheep herding.

This breed of dog, before they were officially German Shepherds, was first used for herding sheep. German Shepherds would work with livestock owners to herd sheep and other livestock. This is where German Shepherds get their herding instinct amongst their other battlefield-quality instincts. 

This is where German Shepherds gain much of their high-quality working traits that would pique the interest of the police forces.

One of the German Shepherds’ first jobs was to work with the police and tax collectors so that taxes could be safely collected.

This was back when people had to go out door-to-door in order to collect taxes from people, which could be dangerous when someone really didn’t want to pay their taxes. 

By the 1920s, German Shepherds were commonly being used in the police force for protection, tracking, and their strong sense of smell. German Shepherds would then world with both the police force and the military in the following world wars which would gain this breed much of their fame. 

What Traits Make German Shepherds Good for Working with the Police Force?

Why Are German Shepherds Used as Police Dogs 1 1 Why Are German Shepherds Used As Police Dogs?

From the breeding to make German Shepherds the perfect working dog, they have developed many great traits that make them good for police work. 

Physical Abilities

German Shepherds have some of the same traits as wolves, making them very strong and agile dogs. They have also had to be agile when they were originally working to herd sheep for livestock owners. 

Being able to keep up with and direct sheep takes a lot of strength and energy, once more making these dogs physically strong. Being strong and agile has been important in police work where German Shepherds might have to keep up with getting through tough situations. 

German Shepherds can jump fences, run a long time, and get into spaces that people simply cannot.

Tracking Abilities

German Shepherds have inherited a strong sense of smell from their ancestors, making them great at tracking and finding things. These dogs have been both to track down people and sniff out explosives in dangerous situations. 

The agility that these dogs have helps with their tracking skills as they can keep up with tracking a person or animal down. 


German Shepherds are extremely intelligent dogs and have a strong capability of learning new tricks and commands. This makes these dogs very easy to work within a more professional setting as the police force is able to easily train German Shepherds to become proper police dogs. 

Their high level of intelligence also helps when the police force is faced with a tough situation. In times of trouble, German Shepherds can help figure out a way to get them and their handlers out of the situation. 


The police force doesn’t have to worry about German Shepherds running off and forget about working with them. German Shepherds are extremely loyal to their owners and handlers while having a high level of care for them. 

Their loyalty then gets presented as being protective which is helpful when the handler is faced with a dangerous situation. 

Persistent and Determined

German Shepherds have a very strong work ethic. They have a need to get their job done with high quality. 

These dogs are not likely to leave any job half-finished. With their high levels of energy, they have the energy to get even the toughest jobs done. These dogs are both extremely persistent and determined to get their work done with their handlers. 


A highly loved trait of German Shepherds is that they have an even temper. They are able to keep their cool in tough situations and are slower to frustrate. 

This is highly sought after in the police field as anyone, dog or human, needs to be able to keep their cool during stressful situations. 

War, tracking criminals, and other police work is inherently stressful, and German Shepherds have shown to be able to keep level-headed during all of it.

What Do Police Dogs Do?

Now that you know what is needed to be a police dog, what does a police dog even do? In the media, police dogs are shown to track down criminals with a few sniffs of a jacket and they are shown going into different buildings to search for drugs. 

While the media heavily exaggerates the real world, some of these jobs are things that actual police dogs do or have done. 

Detection Dogs

As discussed just above, some dogs in the police force are used to sniff out dangerous objects. This includes explosives, drugs, weapons, and anything else that the police deem dangerous. 

These police dogs help when the police suspect that the criminal or suspicious person has dangerous items on them or around them. 

Search Dogs

These are the police dogs that will go out and search for people or other animals. They need their strong sense of smell in order to keep the trail of someone. Not only do these dogs sniff out a suspicious person, but they are also used to search for living people after a disaster.

If someone is trapped under rubble, a search dog can sniff out that there is a living person under the rubble so the police can get to the person. 

Cadaver Dogs

These German Shepherds and other police dogs have specifically been trained to smell out dead bodies. The German Shepherds with the strongest sense of smell are normally used for this role as they have to smell dead bodies under other objects or even underwater. 

Cadaver dogs are usually used after a disaster to see the casualties that happened so that all the bodies are retrieved. 

How Are Police Dogs Trained?

Police dogs go through much different training than the average German Shepherd. This training is much more rigorous and is highly focused on training certain skills and obedience.

Many German Shepherds go through endurance training, but it’s nothing compared to the endurance training that police dogs get. In this endurance training, these German Shepherds have to be able to run or walk for miles on end, especially if they become search dogs.

Along with obedience, endurance, agility, and other forms of normal training that police dogs receive, they will also receive specialized training. 

This is where a German Shepherd becomes a certain type of police dog like a cadaver dog or a detection dog. 

Training for police dogs takes years and will go until a German Shepherd puppy becomes a fully formed adult. This training also ends up costing quite a bit as professional trainers that are informed of the needs of the police formed are needed to train the dogs. 

The German Shepherds that the police force uses have been dedicated to the job since they were puppies. Since so much specific training is needed, the police have to buy German Shepherds from breeders instead of adopting them in order to have a properly trained police dog.

Final Thoughts

German Shepherds have an interesting reputation. Some pet owners see them as lovable and active dogs that make amazing family members.

At the same time, German Shepherds are often used in the police work to take on tough and grueling jobs. Really, this shows the wide range of what a German Shepherd can be.

German Shepherds are good police dogs and they are very good at what they do. There are several branches of a police dog that these German Shepherds can become from a search dog, detection dog, or a cadaver dog. 

Police dogs need a lot of training in order to become a properly trained police dog. However, the natural traits that German Shepherds have makes this training process much easier. 

German Shepherds are already extremely intelligent, loyal, and obedient which makes them great students in the training facilities.

Even though German Shepherds are often shown as tough and even dangerous dogs, they still have big hearts. Many videos online show the behind the scenes of a police officer and their police dog where they are having fun and in a lighthearted situation. 

Just like any creature, German Shepherds have a heart and love to share with either their owners or handlers.

Similar Posts