All dogs, with a few exceptions, have an excellent sense of smell that allows them to work at detecting, regardless of breed. However, if the dog does not like to play, if it prefers to sleep all day or if it does not have the physical qualities to work for long periods in sometimes difficult situations, it will never become a good working dog!

Thus, there are several criteria to consider when choosing a dog that will perform well according to our needs. First of all, the choice should be made according to the work that will be required.

Dog breeds that excel at detection

When it comes to detection, the choice of dog breed is vast. Shepherd-type dogs such as the German Shepherd or the Belgian Malinois can be used, but hunting dogs such as Labrador Retrievers, German Shorthaired or Wirehaired Pointers, Beagles, Spaniels and Golden Retrievers are also suitable.

Above all, it must be an intelligent breed of dog that likes to learn and play, since learning is done through play!


How to choose a detector dog

The choice of a detector dog is based primarily on the preferences of the trainers, the working environment, but also on the organization that will be using them.

For example, the Canadian Border Services Agency (Customs) does not use shepherds so as to have a better relationship with people entering Canada. Shepherd-type dogs or dogs with upright ears can be frightening to those who are not necessarily comfortable with the presence of dogs. They are also a greater deterrent.

This is why we use mainly Labradors for explosive detection. Most people are more comfortable with the presence of this well-known type of dog. This is a plus when we work for big cultural and sporting events in Québec. The goal is not to scare the public.

Guard dog breeds

In guarding, we look for a dog that has a “prey drive”. He will also have a protective side that will help him in training for muzzled and bite attacks. He must also have the physical and mental capacities required to do this type of work. This is why the German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois are the most popular choices for a guard dog.

Of course, there are other possible breeds such as the Beauceron and the Rottweiler, but these are exceptions.

German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois?

So German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois? No one can agree on which breed is better. Handlers, trainers and organizations (police, army) will always have their preferences. However, there is a worldwide trend towards the Belgian Malinois.


Advantages of the Belgian Malinois

The biggest advantage of the Belgian Malinois is its genetics! This breed has been less modified over time. It has therefore preserved its working characteristics when compared to the German Shepherd, which many breeders have turned into a family dog.

The popularity of the German Shepherd over the last 50 years has reduced the quality of its genetics due to many bad breeders. As a result, there are fewer genetic diseases, such as hip dysplasia, and less cancer in the Malinois than in the German Shepherd.

Generalist canine team

A general-purpose dog is able to do both detection and protection work. This is the case with the majority of police and military dogs that do both types of work. This allows, for example, a dog to do drug detection and protection as well as tracking on patrol with a police officer, or to have a dog that patrols with a member of the military on a mission, but also finds explosives when needed.

For this type of mixed work, almost only Belgian Malinois or German Shepherds are suitable. To do this, the dog must be very versatile and have great abilities in both areas, which is why very few breeds qualify for the job.

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