There are several criteria in order to choose a dog and it starts with knowing what the dog’s job will be.
In detection, the choice of dog breed is vast. It is possible to use shepherd-type dogs like the German Shepherd or the Belgian Shepherd Malinois, but also hunting dogs like the Labrador, the German Pointer, the Beagle, the Spaniels and the Golden Retriever.
How do we make the choice?
The choice depends on the preferences of the coaches, but also on the organization that will use them. For example, the Canada Border Services Agency (Customs) does not use a Shepherd Dog in order to have a better relationship with people entering Canada. Shepherd dogs or dogs with straight ears are more scary for people who are unsure of dogs. It is also Labradors that we also mainly use for explosive detection so that everyone is comfortable with the presence of the dog when we are in the big cultural and sporting events in Quebec.
In protection, we are looking for a dog that will have “ prey ” and with a protective side in order to bite with it and of course the dog must have physical and mental capacities in order to do this job. This is why we mainly choose the German Shepherd or the Belgian Malinois. Of course, there are other possible breeds like the Berger de Beauce, the Rottweiler, but these remain rather exceptions.
Which dog is the best?
So German Shepherd or Belgian Shepherd Malinois? No one can agree on the best of the two races. There will always be a preference on the part of dog handlers, trainers / trainers and organizations (police, army, etc.), but we see a worldwide trend towards the Belgian Shepherd Malinois. One of the reasons is his better health and genetics. The breed has been less modified over time and the breed has been kept with work-oriented characteristics compared to the German Shepherd where several breeders have made it a family dog. The popularity of the German Shepherd in the last 50 years has reduced the quality of its genetics due to several bad breeders. There is therefore less genetic disease (such as hip dysplasia) and less cancer in the Malinois than in the German Shepherd.
Generalist dog team
A general practitioner dog does the job of detection and also of protection. The majority of police and military dogs do both types of work. This makes it possible, for example, to have a dog which does drug detection and protection on patrol with a police officer or to have a dog which patrols with a soldier on a mission, but which also finds explosives if necessary.
For this type of mixed work, there are almost only Belgian Malinois or German Shepherds. The dog must be very versatile and have great abilities in both areas, which is why very few breeds qualify for the job.