Why Are Police Dogs Trained In German (And Other Languages)

If you have ever read anything about police dogs, then you have probably heard the rumor that police dogs are trained in German. Whether this is a myth, a rumor, or the truth, has been widely debated. So, are police dogs actually trained in German?

Yes, police dogs are trained in German. In the USA, all members of the K-9 unit will be trained with German commands, and it is these commands which will be used while they are out at work.

But, you might not have believed this because police dogs are never given German commands in TV shows or movies. Now that you know that US police dogs are trained in German, you might be wondering why this happens.

In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at why police dogs are trained in German, why they are also sometimes trained in other languages. So to find out more, keep on reading. 

Why Are Police Dogs Trained In German (And Other Languages)

Why Are Police Dogs Trained In A Foreign Language?

Before we take a look at why police dogs are trained in German, let’s first take a look at why these working dogs are trained in a foreign language.

Only around 1.06 million people in the USA speak German, and so you might be puzzled as to why this is the chosen language for training police dogs.

Or why any foreign language is used for that matter. After all, if the police do not speak this language, why would the dogs be trained to?

Well, there is one simple reason why dogs are trained in foreign languages, and once you hear this reason you will understand completely.

Police dogs, and lots of other working dogs for that matter, are trained in a foreign language to avoid confusion. Police dogs are trained to follow commands, and they will complete actions based on these commands.

So, if the dogs were trained in English, there would be a risk that they could be triggered to complete an action without their trainer intending it. They could simply hear the word in conversation and react. 

Foreign languages are foreign in the USA because they are not widely spoken. This is why they are used for training working dogs.

The chance of a dog being confused by a word used in conversation is much lower when the command words are in a foreign language, than when they are given in English.

So, K-9 dogs are trained to follow foreign command words to avoid them getting confused. 

Why Are Police Dogs Trained In German?

So, the reason police dogs are trained in a foreign language makes total sense, but you might be wondering why German.

A lot of people assume that German is the chosen language because a lot of police dogs are German Shepherds, but this isn’t the reason German is used.

After all, just because these dogs originate in Germany, this doesn’t mean that they speak German. 

The main reason why German is the language most commonly used to train police dogs is because German is the language that has been used for a long time.

As the US police have used German commands to train their dogs for a long time, the commands are all designed, and so it makes sense to stick with something that works, rather than make an unnecessary change.

The German commands used to train police dogs are known as Schutzhund training commands, and they have been used in various police forces all over the world for a long time. 

When police dogs go into training, they are trained with the Schutzhund commands, and this is why so many police forces stick with these commands.

Even though most police officers do not know German, it is much easier to learn a handful of German commands to handle the dog, than to retrain the dog entirely.

So, lots of police forces stick with German commands for their dogs. But, it is important to note that not all US police forces use German commands with their dogs. 

What Other Languages Are Police Dogs Trained In?

Most of the time, police dogs are trained in German. This is because the majority of police dogs are German Shepherds, who originated in Germany or Belgium.

Originally, police dogs were trained in Europe, and then shipped to the USA ready to work, this is why German has always been the most common language which these dogs are trained in. 

But, not all police dogs are trained in German. In fact, these dogs are trained in a wide variety of languages. But, after German, the next most common language which K-9 dogs are trained in is Dutch.

However, this is rare, and you will find that the majority of police dogs in the USA are trained in Schutzhund commands. 

You might be wondering why German has been chosen over some other European languages, such as Spanish and French. This is mainly because German is a harsh language, and this means that it is perfect for making commands.

Every German word sounds like a command, so when single words are used the dog will clearly hear it, and understand what they have to do. So even though other languages are used to train police dogs, German will always be the most common. 

Does This Happen All Over The World?

Yes, in most countries across the globe, police dogs are trained to understand German commands. This is because a lot of countries have their police dogs imported directly from Germany and Belgium once they reach a certain age.

So, these dogs will be trained in basic German commands, and then it falls to the dog’s handler to enforce these commands once they take over control of that dog. 

But, not all police forces stick with the German commands. Some handlers find it too difficult to learn the German words to command their dogs, and so they will retrain them in English (or another language).

In contrast, some handlers embellish on the basic German commands that the dogs are trained with, and teach them more commands over time. So, a lot of the time, police dogs are trained in German all across the world.

But, some police forces will use other languages, and some individual trainers will choose to retrain their dog if they struggle with the German commands. 

Summary

In short, the majority of police dogs are trained in German. This is not a myth or a rumor, it is a fact, and it is something that has happened for a very long time. 

There are lots of different reasons why police dogs are trained in the German language, starting with the fact that a lot of police dogs are actually trained in Germany and Belgium.

Here, the dogs will get basic training in their early months before they are sent to other countries to become police dogs once they reach 15-18 months in age. 

Some other reasons why police dogs are trained in German is because this will avoid confusion, because a lot of K-9 dogs are German shepherds, and because German is a harsh language.

So, as you can see, there are lots of reasons why police dogs are trained in German, and because this works, it is unlikely to change any time soon. 

Daniel Johnson
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