Samantha O’Boyle, CVT
Associate Veterinary Information Specialist
Pet Poison helpline
Many dogs have jobs today just like their humans. They can be Youtube and Instagram stars or win dog shows. For me, the most common job I know a dog can have is to be a K9 unit with a police or sheriff department. So, I decided to interview a couple K9 Deputies I know for some facts about them and their trusty sidekicks!
What breeds are best suited for police work?
German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois Mixes.
How long is the standard training for a dog and trainer?
A new K9 team must spend at minimum 16 weeks (680 hours) in basic patrol, but training is continued throughout their career.
What are examples of what they might be trained to do?
Their primary job is to track suspects that flee on foot as well as locate any missing or endangered people. They are also trained to do building, area and item searches as well as suspect apprehension (bite work). After working the road for about a year the dogs will then go to Detector School and become either a Bomb or Narcotic Dog. Each year they can also be offered the opportunity to compete in the USPCA (United States Police Canine Association) Field Trails.
How many different commands can the dogs learn?
They can learn upwards of 40-50 commands.
What can a typical “day off” look like? Are they continually trained, or do they get to be a normal dog?
Days off are for resting and relaxing since so much is asked of them during the work week.
What type of food dog the dogs eat?
Purina Pro Plan Sport.
What type of preventatives or supplements are they on?
They are on heartworm and flea/tick prevention. They are also on a joint support supplement.
How often do they visit the vet?
They have yearly check ups and will go to a specialist if that is deemed necessary.
What is the protocol after the dog has bitten a suspect?
There are no special protocols for this situation unless an injury occurs to the dog.
What types of precautions are taken in case there are any direct exposures to narcotics?
Caution is always taken when the dogs are working to ensure they do not ingest anything they shouldn’t while working. As a precaution Narcan is kept on hand for emergencies if a Narcotic exposure does occur.
At what age do the dogs normally retire?
They can typically retire between the ages of 7-9 years old unless they show signs of early aging or if they get injured.