Detection dogs have become an integral part of the criminal justice system over the past centuries. Military personnel and law enforcement officers alike utilize canines as companions and partners in the field due to their strength and attributes of loyalty and courage, which complement that of his handler. It was not until the late 1800s that canines would be utilized to their full potential as detection dogs by using their heightened sense of smell to further their contribution to civil services. Thus, before entering the work force, detection dogs and their handlers must undergo extensive training to ensure “familiarization” between man and dog and dog and his purpose.
Canines, as a whole, have a long and detailed history of
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The dogs were trained to follow a given scent on the ground, be it a footprint, an article of clothing, or a blood trail, and be able to discriminate among hundreds of other odors that had crossed it to lead the Nazis to the British. However, it was not until the 1960s that dogs would be used to detect illegal substances such as narcotics, explosives, and contraband. In 1970, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection began an experimental narcotic detector dog training program. The program focused on four main drugs: marijuana, hashish, cocaine, and heroin. Around the same time, the British Royal Army Veterinary Corps began training its own Army dogs to do the same. Shortly thereafter, they began to further their narcotic detection program with explosive detection work as well. The U.S. followed suit in 1973, and by the mid-1970s, government agencies around the globe were utilizing canines for specialized task forces.
As a result, countries began to breed dogs to fit the ‘ideal’ make-up of a detection dog that filled their minds. All breeds of canines contain a superior level of olfactory, but not every breed has the endurance or strength for optimal performance, essentially eliminating them as a contender to track down criminals or missing persons. Therefore, there are three main breeds that remain top choices for police agencies today: German shepherds, Blood Hounds, and Beagles. German Shepherds are synonymous with the phrase “police dog”.