Why Do Cops Use German Shepherds and Not a Different Breed for Police Dogs?
You might have encountered an emergency scene where probably some buildings collapsed due to an earthquake and persons were injured with a few others trapped within the ruins.
And as you might have expected, there were ‘tons’ of policemen securing the perimeter, paramedics, other emergency medical care providers, and very notably, there were some fierce-looking canines.
Also, at the airports, you might have observed that these same breeds of canines are always found sniffing for explosives, drugs, and other illegal stuff. Or, at different times, they may just have been keeping watch over the arena while kited with wears that bear resemblance with the K-9 police unit.
This group of ‘unusual’ but extremely popular American Police buddies are known as The German Shepherds. But what makes these German Shepherd Dogs (GSD) good enough to accompany the Police on their high-risk job of securing the State? Read on to discover more.
Peculiar Characteristics of the German Shepherd Dogs That Suit the Policing Profession.
- They are swift in obeying commands.
At times, the officer may be facing a dangerous criminal and requires assistance quickly. On such occasions, the GSD would significantly assist because they carry out instructions very swiftly without fear.
- They are brilliant and easily trainable
For hundreds of years, GSDs have been saving police officers’ and civilians’ lives through their training and intelligence in life-threatening situations. They can successfully detect explosives, track criminals, and do many other complex jobs, all thanks to their unrivaled intelligence.
- They are loyal and protective
Unlike humans that can be bribed and then turned against each other, A GSD is always loyal to its police officer partner. This is why they would often look to their handlers for approval on what to do and stop an attack only when their handlers ask them to.
- They are resilient and can survive crippling pressures
This is one of the excellent reasons why these dogs are used in the force. They can go through narrow and rough landscapes that even human police officers cannot scale all in an attempt to carry out an instruction.
- They are not easily ruffled by danger or threat, and they are very agile when they operate. Hence no matter the disorder in a crime scene or the danger facing it, the GSD keeps calm and courageously follows orders.
- The GSD also possesses a very developed sense of smell, and as such, they can be taken advantage of to save lives.
- Compared to many other regular breeds of dogs that require attention and present strong tendencies to dig, be easily distracted, bark, drool, snore e.t.c The GSD is in a league that is by far superior.
History of German Shepherds as Police Dogs
German Shepherds have long been in the Police Force, as far back as the late ’90s. In the early parts of the 19th-century German Shepherds were only used as farm aids; but due to the growing insecurity rate in Europe, a German Army Veteran, Max Von Stephanitz, began to breed GSD for resilience, intelligence, and loyalty to aid in the Battle against insecurity.
In the 1930s, the GSDs gained popularity in Europe, and they began to function on a large scale in Paris and gradually other parts of the world. And by World war 1 and 2, the dogs were officially being used in the West also. The dogs helped as messengers, firearms carriers, Red Cross dogs, and so on.
Choosing A Police Dog
When selecting a Police dog, the foremost trait to consider is a relentless natural prey drive. When it comes to going after criminals, you do not want a dog that would give up on the task before completing the chase.
To get a suitable police dog, you could monitor an entire litter of puppies that are about two months old and then roll a ball under a bookshelf. Some of the puppies would get tired of searching for the ball, while others would go after the ball until they find it and bring it to you.
You should look out for this resilient and focused attitude and choose a puppy that would fit the job. There may also be dogs that have an unusually high level of this prey drive, and even if you brought such dogs into the police force, you should endeavor to be very careful with them.
Cost of Police Dogs
If you reside outside Europe and are interested in purchasing a police dog for security purposes, at most 11,000 USD should cover the transport fares. The training cost that equipped the dog to detect, patrol, and do other policing related jobs should not be more than 15,000 USD. So, you could keep aside about 26,000 USD for this expenditure.
Training Police Dogs
The training of GSD as police dogs borders around training them to work and earn a ‘reward’ with which they can play. So, the reason why the GSD chases criminals, runs errands, or performs any other task is to get an appraisal or a toy to play with at the end of the day. Due to this ‘reward’ assurance, the dog is willing to do as much work as possible.
The toys the dogs are given to play with are covered in gun residue to get them accustomed to such scents. And this skill would serve the dog in their job because they would search out such materials with much enthusiasm and ease.
How Long Does It Take to Train A Police Dog?
The most fundamental block on which training a police dog revolves around is getting the dog to learn and recall the many verbal instructions and hand gestures it has been taught. Although before a dog is taken to the Police, he is taught obedience, the length of time it still takes to train the dog thoroughly depends on the functions the dog is expected to perform.
So, besides obedience and patrol training that lasts several weeks, the dog learns other specialized skills like explosives detection directly and continuously from the handler. There can be no definite time limit within which a dog can be trained, and it merely depends on the use the dog is intended for.
How Are Police Dogs Assigned to Officers?
The process of assigning a particular GSD to a police officer takes a reasonable amount of time. It also involves much scrutiny because the police officer to whom the GSD is being assigned will be checked for his responsibility, communication skills, reliability, and agility.
This is because GSD’s are very agile dogs; they are not weapons nor pets and would need similar ‘breeds’ of handlers to control and optimize them. So, as much as possible, the GSD’s personality traits should match that of their handlers.
As when the dog is finally assigned to an officer, he would work with the officer daily and live at the officer’s home with his family.
The police officer who wishes to have a GSD partner must first complete his police academy training and run a year or two with the patrol unit before transferring to the k-9 team. After that, he would be eligible to get a GSD.
Applications of German Shepherd Police Dogs
German Shepherd police dogs have numerous uses in the Police and military. What the dogs can do, however, depends on the training type they receive. As already mentioned, the dogs are brilliant and can quickly grasp whatever they are taught to do even faster than their handlers would.
Some applications of the GSD’s include;
- Single purpose, personal protection police, and backup dogs.
- Wilderness tracking.
- Apprehension and attack
Before a dog is trained to attack, it must necessarily have passed its training on obedience because the bites of a GSD can inflict many injuries. However, a police GSD must be taught to attack when provoked by its handler to subdue enemies.
- Human remains or cadaver detection.
Trained GSD’s can sniff scents of blood, which is very valuable when the task entails locating a dead or injured criminal.
5 Trailing and tracking.
Police GSD’s can trail criminals by beginning from the points where the person was last seen.
- Search and rescue
Even if a person or an object has been submerged underground, the GSDs can locate them.
- Detection of explosives
Patrol GSD’s are not only trained to attack and subdue a threat but can also identify explosives. This is one of how GSD’s differ from regular guard dogs.
- Missing person detection.
After the twin tower collapsed in New York City on September 11th, 2001, the first responders who immediately appeared on the scene were two-legged and four-legged. The Police GSD’s searched through the rubbles and located the first survivors found that day.
The genuinely selfless and loyal friend every man should have in this treacherous and ungrateful world is his dog. And what better dog can he rely on than one which is versatile, intelligent, and focused.
The Police German Shepherd dogs are simply a summary of agility and strength that have been brilliantly tamed.