Dogs have been working alongside law enforcement for decades. Their superior sense of smell and quick reaction time make them the ideal animals for the job. They can sniff out drugs, bombs, people, and other potential threats. They can also prevent suspects from running with their ultra-fast instincts and speed.
We frequently see German Shepherds, Bloodhounds, and Doberman Pinschers alongside police officers and military personnel, but what about the U.S. Secret Service? What breeds of dog do they use?
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What Breed of Dog Does the U.S. Secret Service Exclusively Use?
As it turns out, the U.S. Secret Service exclusively uses Belgian Malinois in its elite canine force—and for good reason.
Belgian Malinois are similar to German Shepherds in size and build, but are “more compact” and higher energy. These dogs are confident, versatile, smart, and sociable. These traits make them hardworking and easy to train.
With a life expectancy of 14 to 16 years, Belgian Malinois are perfect candidates for the Secret Service. Although they’re strong and well-muscled, Belgian Malinois aren’t bulky. They’re well-proportioned and squarely built, with bright, curious eyes and a solid figure that denotes strength and courage.
They look quite a bit like German Shepherds, but with a shorter coat–which helps them work in the swampy D.C. summer weather. Their coats come in five standard colors (fawn, mahogany, red, red sable, and fawn sable). The breed gets its name from the Malines region of Belgium, where it originated.
Standing at 22 to 26 inches at the withers, Belgian Malinois aren’t the biggest or tallest dogs, but they’re certainly fast, with top speeds of 30 miles per hour. This allows them to chase down threats, such as a man who jumped the White House fence in 2014.
Belgian Malinois are a fearsome bunch. With a biting capacity of over 195 pounds of pressure per square inch, they can easily take a criminal done when ordered. You definitely don’t want to commit a crime when Belgian Malinois are around!
Their tasks are not just limited to takedowns, as the Secret Service has to provide a variety of security services.
Belgian Malinois excel in an array of impressive police work, including:
- Drug, bomb, and gas detection
- Search and rescue
Belgian Malinois are often seen patrolling the gates of the White House, sniffing through the crowds of visitors, protesters, and civilians passing by.
What Qualifies Belgian Malinois for the U.S Secret Service?
According to the Washington Post, former Secret Service officials say that were chosen because of they are smart, agile, and obedient.
They can also sprint twice as fast as people, and their short coats make them ideal for working in the Washington, D.C. area, given the extremely muggy weather in the summertime.
Like most herding dogs, Belgian Malinois have a high prey drive. Although they’re hyperactive, they’re extremely sharp and have high levels of focus on the target. Their agile nature helps them scale fences, climb trees, and jump on car windows with ease—and without injuring themselves!
On top of that, Belgian Malinois have strong protective and territorial instincts. For this reason, they’re trained from an extremely young age so they won’t attack the wrong person.
Belgian Malinois were introduced as working dogs at the White House in 1975. Each dog costs $4,500 and then must undergo training. It’s unclear how much the Secret Service spends but the U.S. Navy Seals spend $50,000 per dog for equivalent training for their Belgian Malinois dogs.
Each puppy must undergo 20 weeks of training before they are eligible to join the Secret Service. Their training schedule is strict and includes lots of elements like biosensors stressing, narcotic detection, and others.
For over a decade, the U.S. Secret Service exclusively train Belgian Malinois for its canine force.
These dogs are extremely smart, hardworking, and loyal. The combination of their training, natural aptitude, and physical strength and speed make them a fearsome guardian for some of the most well-protected people on the planet.
After roughly 10 years of service, these dogs retire and live a happy home life with their handlers.
P.S. if you love reading about working dogs, check out Reddit’s /r/DogsWithJobs subreddit!