K-9 Breeds: Labrador Retrievers and Bloodhounds

Three weeks ago, we shone a spotlight on Bretagne, the last known surviving 9/11 search-and-rescue dog, who died this past year. This week on the blog, we’re going to start a series of posts about typical (and some less-than-typical) K-9 dog breeds, starting with Bretagne’s retriever family and moving onto a number of other well-known breeds including German shepherds, beagles and pit bull type dogs.

Labrador Retrievers: These dogs are bred in three main colours—black (better known as black Labs), yellow (better known as golden retrievers) and brown (better known as chocolate Labs)—but all three colours are well suited to be working dogs. They are noted for low levels of aggression, therefore they are not used for suspect apprehension or patrol. However, this personality trait makes them extremely suitable as search-and-rescue dogs. Additionally, these dogs have a very strong sense of smell, which is why they were originally used as retrieving dogs during the hunt. In the modern working dog world, that keen sense of smell is used for suspect tracking and arms, drugs, explosives, accelerant, and general object detection. Retrievers are excellent air scent and/or trailing dogs.

Bloodhounds: Bloodhounds were originally bred for hunting, but they became one of the oldest breeds to be used in police work. Since the Middle Ages, these dogs have been renowned for their skill in human tracking. Many find them comical looking, but their physiology actually aids in their work since their floppy ears and loose skin help in scent gathering. They are able to follow days-old scent over long distances, which makes them useful while tracking suspects, lost children, and missing pets. Bloodhounds can be willful and sometimes difficult to train, but a trained bloodhound is a huge boon to any law enforcement agency or search-and-rescue group fortunate enough to have one.

Next week, we’ll be back with what most people recognize as a police dog—the German shepherd and it’s close relative, the Belgian Malinois.

Photo credit: Stannate and John Leslie

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