Dogs in Law Enforcement

Source: The American Bloodhound Club

Dogs have been used in law enforcement for at least a century, and there is some evidence to suggest dogs worked in support of the police as far back as the Middle Ages. Melven , writing for in 2015, notes some of the earliest “police dogs” were Bloodhounds, utilized since the 12th century specifically for their tracking abilities. The editorial staff of the Private Security Professionals of America provide more detail:

Dogs have been used for law enforcement since at least the middle ages. Money was then set aside in the villages for the upkeep of the parish constable’s bloodhounds that were used for hunting down outlaws. During King Henry I of England’s reign, the constable in charge of the Royal Palaces would ‘maintain the stables, kennels and mews, and be responsible for protecting and policing the whole court’. In France, dogs were used in the 14th century in St. Malo. Bloodhounds used in Scotland were known as “Slough dogs” – the word “Sleuth,” (meaning detective) was derived from this.


It was in Continental Europe that dogs were first used on a large scale. Police in Paris began using dogs against roaming criminal gangs at night, but it was the police department in Ghent, Belgium that introduced the first organized police dog service program in 1899. These methods soon spread to Austria-Hungary and Germany … The dogs were systematically trained in obedience to their officers and tracking and attacking criminals.


Source: The Detroit News

Today, canines in law enforcement complete specialized training before being deployed to working in the public arena, and at airports in particular. Around the world, canines have been a vital asset when  screening cargo, baggage, and people for everything from prohibited foods to explosives to illegal drugs and other contraband. And, in recent years, dogs have been trained to catch antiquities traffickers, detect electronic storage devices, and even sniff out excess currency.

To learn more about these hard-working canines, check out the links I’ve included.