Military & Police Dog Breeds: 20 Most Popular Types

Dogs come in various sizes, shapes, colors, and personalities, but only a certain number of breeds can graduate to military and police officers.

Highly skilled at tracking criminals, detecting bombs, and protecting their owners, here are 20 of the most popular military and police dog breeds!

What Do K-9 Cop Dogs Do?

These highly-trained dogs work alongside and help police officers with various tasks, from clearing dangerous areas to detecting narcotics and explosive materials.

But, the K-9 unit’s most important function is ‘search and rescue’ since these dogs can locate missing people and criminal evidence with their superior sense of smell.

Beyond their law enforcement duties, K-9 police dogs are also excellent companions as they can provide emotional support to their human partners.

Note: Used exclusively for police dogs, the nickname ‘K-9’ is a bastardization of the term ‘canine’, which refers to the animal subfamily to which dogs belong.

Most Famous Military and Police Dog Breeds

The most popular dog breeds used for law enforcement and military work include German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Boxers. Still, there are other less common types of dogs that can do the job as they show the same loyalty, strength, and intelligence.

Check out all of them below.

1. German Shepherd

German Shepherd


Average Lifespan 9–13 years
Average Height 22–26 in
Average Weight 49–88 lb

Prized for its fearless loyalty, obedience, and intelligence, the German Shepherd is the most common police dog employed by law enforcement and military forces anywhere.

Also, they are very athletic, meaning they are first-class performers at hunting and apprehension, and have excellent tracking and detection skills, which prove vital in ‘search and rescue’ and ‘counter-narcotics’ and ‘counter-explosives’ operations.

Arguably, German Shepherds demonstrate the best and most versatile K-9 crime-fighting skills, making them an invaluable asset to any police force.

2. Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois


Average Lifespan 12–14 years
Average Height 22–26 in
Average Weight 44–66 lb

The Belgian Malinois is basically a smaller version of the German Shepherd guard dog, and as such, it exhibits similar traits, including high trainability, a fierce protective nature, and splendid detection, tracking, and apprehension abilities.

When they were used during the World Wars as medical couriers, these loyal and brave dogs excelled at that task, proving they could be used for more dangerous missions.

In time and with proper training, they became essential to most elite law enforcement units, as demonstrated by Cairo, a Belgian Malinois who joined the SEAL Team Six raid to capture Osama Bin Laden, the world’s most notorious terrorist.

3. Bloodhound



Average Lifespan 7–12 years
Average Height 23–28 in
Average Weight 88–119 lb

Relying on their supreme sense of smell (aptly responsible for their name), Bloodhounds have been used as security and detection dogs for a long time.

Their police training typically includes locating drugs, explosives, and even fugitives, whereas the military uses them to locate land mines and track down missing soldiers.

In fact, Bloodhounds can follow a scent for miles even after several days since their nose has 300 million scent receptors, making it the most sensitive dog nose out there.

Related article: What Smell Do Dogs Hate? We Have the Answers

4. Boxer



Average Lifespan 9–15 years
Average Height 53–64 in
Average Weight 55–70 lb

While these veteran dogs have served in both WWI and WWII as guard dogs, military messengers, and patrol officers, nowadays, they are mostly family dogs.

However, their loyalty, courage, and intelligence still make them exceptional candidates for police and military work. As a matter of fact, boxes are the second-most-popular dog breed in the German police workforce.

It is hardly surprising since the Boxer is known for its fearless nature and ability to remain calm under pressure, which, coupled with its innate trainability and obedience, makes it one of the best police and military dogs out there.

5. Rottweiler



Average Lifespan 8–10 years
Average Height 22–27 in
Average Weight 77–132 lb

Originating from Germany, this strong and intelligent military breed is very easy to instruct to do all kinds of tasks, from long-distance messaging to varied guard duties.

Rottweilers are also fiercely territorial and can fend off or apprehend any attacker, thanks in part to their impressive bite force of 328 PSI (fifth most powerful among all breeds).

6. American Pit Bull Terrier

 American Pit Bull Terrier


Average Lifespan 8–15 years
Average Height 17–21 in
Average Weight 30–60 lb

Despite its bad reputation, which stems from its media portrayal as a savage street dog, the American Pit Bull Terrier excels as a law enforcement breed by virtue of its discipline, strength, obedience, and trainability.

They are also very intelligent and protect their family and home with a singular tenacity. However, they need a responsible owner willing to put in the time and effort to train and socialize them. Otherwise, they can showcase aggressive behavior.

7. Briard



Average Lifespan 10–12 years
Average Height 22–27 in
Average Weight 55–100 lb

Perhaps the fluffiest dog on the list, the Briard is a large French breed traditionally used for herding and defending sheep, a task that also makes it a great guard dog.

While they are known for their long, shaggy coats and exceptional loyalty, Briards are also very lively and affectionate, so they are quick to bond and play with their owners.

More importantly, while initially bred to work on pastures and ranches, their intelligence, size, and courage make them well-suited for military and police work as well.

8. Doberman Pinscher

Dobermann Pinscher


Average Lifespan 9–12 years
Average Height 25–28 in
Average Weight 71–99 lb

Hailing from Germany, these medium-sized domestic dogs are very intelligent, wary of strangers, and tenacious companions—traits that make excellent guard dogs.

Law enforcement trainers rely on their trainability, loyalty, and obedience to best develop the Doberman’s innate defensive instincts, which ultimately helps them foster some of the smartest, strongest, and most courageous dogs anywhere.

However, while with proper training, a Doberman can be a formidable opponent and an outstanding partner in law enforcement, their upbringing is still significantly costly.

9. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever


Average Lifespan 10–12 years
Average Height 21.5–22.5 in
Average Weight 55–80 lb

Labrador Retrievers have been the most popular dog breed in the U.S. since 1991, and it’s not hard to see why—they are loving, cute, and most of all: profoundly loyal.

While families love having them as a pet, these dogs are also very intelligent and versatile for a variety of jobs: from working as therapy dogs to retrieving game for hunters (it’s in their name, duh!) and tracking criminals and missing persons.

All things considered, while Labradors can be used for serious jobs, they’re just as happy lounging around the house. Either way, they’ll bring a smile to those around them.

10. Akita Inu

Akita Inu


Average Lifespan 10–14 years
Average Height 23–28 in
Average Weight 55–130 lb

The Japanese Akita is one of, if not the most loyal, gentle, caring, and trustworthy dog breed on the planet.

What more proof do you need other than the abundance of anecdotal evidence, like the story of Hachikō, who continued to wait for his owner every day at a Tokyo train station even nine years after his master’s death?

In addition to their willingness to do everything for their masters, the Akita Inu can be trained very quickly and have a keen sense of smell—qualities that make them very appealing to police and military officials.

11. Border Collie

Border Collie


Average Lifespan 10–17 years
Average Height 18–24 in
Average Weight 26–55 lb

While primarily bred as herding dogs, this medium-sized British breed is extremely energetic, athletic, and widely considered the most intelligent race of dogs anywhere.

When they are not working as very good boys herding sheep and winning dog competitions, Border Collies can be found in police outfits protecting their handlers, hunting for criminals, and searching for dangerous substances, where they always give 110%.

12. Beagle



Average Lifespan 12–15 years
Average Height 13–16 in
Average Weight 20–25 lb

Everyone has seen these small, long-eared puppers snooping and sniffing around. They are known as Beagles and were originally developed for hunting hares.

Taking advantage of their potent sense of smell, these dogs are nowadays employed at security checkpoints like border crossings and airport control points, where they are expected to sniff out illegal substances that other dog breeds would miss.

Moreover, unlike larger dogs, they can easily maneuver through tight spaces, meaning they are also ideal for ‘search and rescue’ operations.

On a less serious note, their gentle and comforting nature makes them great companions, especially for people who need emotional assistance.

13. Belgian Tervuren

Belgian Tervuren


Average Lifespan 12–14 years
Average Height 22–26 in
Average Weight 44–66 lb

The Tervuren is the second-most-popular Belgian Shepherd after the Malinois listed above, but unlike the short-haired Malinois, the Tervuren has a fluffier long-haired coat.

Despite their slight outward differences, the Tervuren shares much of the same characteristics as the Malinois, meaning it can be easily trained and is intensely loyal and protective of its handler.

Relying on their impressive work ethic and striking appearance, law enforcement uses them to intimidate, repel, and catch criminals and suspects. Still, their daring nature also makes them suitable for ‘search and rescue’ and detection tasks.

14. German Shorthaired Pointer

German Shorthaired Pointer


Average Lifespan 12–14 years
Average Height 23–25 in
Average Weight 55–70 lb

Developed in the 19th century for hunting purposes, the German Shorthaired Pointer is a versatile medium-to-large breed that excels at various tasks, including policing.

These dogs are well-known for their athleticism, speed, and tenacity, all of which are excellent predispositions for law enforcement work.

Additionally, they are magnificent swimmers, thanks to their webbed feet and water-repellent coat, meaning they can be effectively utilized for rescue missions during floods.

15. Giant Schnauzer

military and police dogs


Average Lifespan 10–12 years
Average Height 23.5–27.5 in
Average Weight 77–104 lb

As the largest and most imposing of the three Schnauzer breeds, the Giant Schnauzer was initially bred as a guard dog, but during the two world wars, it was also used for protective purposes because of its high level of alertness and superb nose.

Nowadays, K-9 units train Giant Schnauzers since they are courageous, loyal, and instinctively territorial, so naturally, they are very inquisitive and suspicious of strangers.

You can easily recognize these gentle dog giants by their dense coats (typically black), distinct long beards, and bushy eyebrows, and if you were to take one in, remember to keep them active since they are a high-energy breed that needs exercise to stay healthy.

16. Bouvier des Flandres

Bouvier des Flandres


Average Lifespan 10–12 years
Average Height 23–27 in
Average Weight 60–88 lb

If you go past their initial devil-may-care appearance, you’ll see that the Bouvier des Flandres (transl. Cow Herder of Flanders) is a first-rate guard dog.

These dogs are large, muscular, and rough-coated, giving off the impression they can do anything from herding cattle to pulling carts and stretches (which they actually did in WWI and WWII) and apprehending and fending off criminals.

Today, the Bouvier des Flandres remains a popular choice for military and police work due to its stately stature, intellect, and loyalty.

17. English Cocker Spaniel

English Cocker Spaniel


Average Lifespan 12–15 years
Average Height 15–17 in
Average Weight 26–32 lb

The English Cocker Spaniel is a  breed known for its long, curly, and dangling ears and its good-natured, sporting inclinations, as a result of which it was used to fetch hunting prey.

However, those same athletic skills, aided by its top-notch sniffer and trainability, also make the Cocker Spaniel an excellent choice for police and airport security work.

At the end of the day, even if you are not looking for a dog with great smelling talents, you can get the Cocker Spaniel as a pet, for which it will reward you tenfold with its affectionate and loving nature.

18. Springer Spaniel


Average Lifespan 10–15 years
Average Height 19–20 in
Average Weight 40–50 lb

These excitable and friendly dogs were originally bred for hunting, but their versatility helped them excel at many other activities, including policing tasks like detecting dangerous substances and drugs and tracking missing individuals.

Since they are highly intelligent, law enforcement officials can easily train them to do anything they need, after which they rely on their flawless loyalty to carry out their tasks.

All in all, Springer Spaniels make for wonderful and long-lasting companions,  even if you don’t put them to the test with more serious policing matters.

19. Cane Corso

Cane Corso


Average Lifespan 9–10 years
Average Height 23–28 in
Average Weight 88–110 lb

This Italian short-haired mastiff is large, muscular, and imposing—attributes that, when combined with their unmatched loyalty, make them fiercely territorial.

As a result of the breed’s strong work ethic, high intelligence, and risk-taking nature, police officials love training the Cane Corso as front-line responders since, in the end, they will not hesitate to put themselves in harm’s way to obey their handlers.

20. Airedale Terrier

Airedale Terrier


Average Lifespan 7–14 years
Average Height 22–23 in
Average Weight 40–50 lb

The last but not least dog breed that proves terrific for police work is the Airedale Terrier—a familiar sight in the British police and military forces alongside the German Shepherd.

Despite being bred for hunting purposes, the Airedale’s bravery, strength, and smarts have deemed it the “King of Terriers”a title that these dogs justify any chance they get.

While its impressive size allows it to be the perfect guard dog, this special Terrier breed is also used for ‘search and rescue’ missions during inclement weather since it can withstand the cold and rough terrain thanks to its hardy outer coat.


Hopefully, you’ve had as much fun learning about all these brave K-9 officers as we had putting them together. Also, remember that every doggo is a fluffy ball of mess regardless of their occupation, and they keep us safe just as much as they love us unconditionally.

Which breed do you think would make the best working partner for you? Let us know!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *