Choosing the Right Dog for Police Service Work


21 May Choosing the Right Dog for Police Service Work

Selecting the right dog for police service work is a critical decision, whether you’re choosing your next partner or adding to your unit. Whether the dog will be for single purpose or dual purpose, it’s essential to know what you’re looking for. Here are the most important factors to consider when choosing your are selecting a new K9.

Avoid Puppies

While puppies might seem like a great idea and a cost-effective option for a department, they come with significant uncertainties. You never know how a puppy will mature, which means you could waste a lot of time, money, and energy. Instead, consider going the route of a “green” dog or a fully trained dog through a reputable vendor. These dogs are already mature, and their temperament and abilities are more predictable. The best part is you can actually see in person the true personality and drives of the dog and takes out the guessing. A good vendor should always be trying to select the best dogs for law enforcement.


Confidence is a crucial trait in a police dog. A dog with high genetic confidence is invaluable because this is something that no trainer, kennel, or vendor can fake. A naturally confident dog should behave consistently in any environment. This means the dog shouldn’t slow down, look nervous, or lose its drive for prey items such as balls, tugs, or sleeves when brought to a new location. High confidence ensures that the dog can perform its duties without hesitation, regardless of the situation. I encourage if you are looking at dogs to conduct your own test to determine if the dog is confident. It can be as simple as dropping a loud item on the ground near the dog and watching the dog not shy away from it, another example is seeing if the dog will preform outside of the location they are kept at. At the end of the day confidence is key!

Prey Drive

Prey drive is one of the most important drive states for any law enforcement or military K9. It’s the drive that pushes them through challenging situations and makes them more trainable. A strong prey drive motivates the dog to work and will engage in tasks. If a dog has low or no prey drive, it’s not something you can train into them, as prey drive is a genetic trait. Look for a dog that shows a strong, natural inclination towards chasing and retrieving objects. Note: Dogs that work in defense for bitework are not bad dogs and can still work as K9, however its the dogs with prey drive that I see out preform the defensive dogs.


Health is paramount when choosing a K9. Years ago one of the first K9 handlers I worked with brought me a dog to train as a dual purpose. He was an amazing K9 and he was new to the handler, however his teeth were broken and any kind of apprehension work was not going to happen. The moral is ensure that the dog you get comes with a health and work ability warranty from the vendor or kennel. A reputable vendor will always guarantee the health and performance of their dogs. When you pick up the dog, perform a thorough health check, including an examination of the teeth, to ensure there are no issues that could hinder training or performance. A healthy dog is crucial for the rigorous demands of law enforcement or military work.

Final Thoughts

If a dog checks the boxes for confidence, health, and prey drive, it’s likely a good candidate for police service work. Take your time and don’t rush the selection process. A useful mantra to remember is, “when in doubt, throw them out.” If you have any doubts or questions about a dog while evaluating them, it’s better to move on and find another candidate. The right dog for k9 partner for you or for your unit is out there, and thorough vetting will ensure you find the perfect partner.

By carefully considering these factors, you can ensure that you choose a dog that will excel in police service work and become a valuable member of your unit.

Jake Wright -Precision K9 Work

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