Not a police officer, but train with K9 officers. I see lots of GSD's out there, 4 out of the 6 I train with in Oregon are GSD. There are some really stellar GSD teams in Portland that most patrol guys "hope are on" if they need to call a k9. And I also know several agencies that tried mal's and then decided they weren't doing mal's anymore for some of the reason's Jeremy listed.
I don't think this is a breed issue. I think it's a matter of proper selection and proper training.
There are still vendors and breeders in the US that will give you the kill kill kill dog and agencies that just want a biting machine,
I don't think you'll have any difficulty in finding handlers who want such dogs. But if you ask the admins, they'll have a quite different opinion. Dogs should behave appropriately for the situation they're in.
but the people I train with put social-ness as the first "test" when getting a dog and then make sure it can "kill kill kill" when turned on (and those dogs are on the streets, with lots of finds and bites and also competing very very well in LE trials).
I'm not a fan of LE K−9's competing in trials. I've seen dogs that excel in such competition who did not work on the streets. I know of one such dog, a repeat gold medal winner who admitted, when asking another agency's handler to do a search that was in his jurisdiction, that his dog "did not do real searches."
If a handlers dog is 100% on his street work, and wants to compete it's acceptable. But if the dog is not 100%, and few are, I think it's a bad idea.
They also have to consider the handler. Not many first time handlers can handle an out of control or extremely high drive mali, let alone a dog that will re-direct or come up the leash.
I've often said that I'd not put a new handler with such a dog. It's hard enough learning to work a GSD.
Some of the dogs (both gsds, mals, and crosses) we tested for police work crapped out on the environmental nerve test, but you know what? Another US agency was waiting in the wings to buy the same dog we failed for our program....different strokes. The US is so huge with so many agencies that it's so anecdotal what is "seen" and "known."
I don't think that it's just a matter of "different strokes."
I think that some agencies and some handlers are seriously deficient in knowing what a LE K−9 should be. I've seen a huge movement away from being able to verbally out the dog from a distance, to "taking the dog off strong" aka "lifting the dog off the bite." Many handlers and vendors think that this displays a "tough dog" and is desirable. I know that it shows a lack of talent and skill in training and that it needlessly exposes the handler to grave danger. But since many are simply not capable of training it without adversely affecting the rest of the dog's work, notably his bite, they're making the excuse that a verbal out is not necessary, even though most courts require it, stating that the dog must be under the handler's control at all times.
A verbal out is not just for those times that a dog is biting a crook. It's ALSO for the dreaded bad bite on an innocent person, a child, or another LEO. In the past several years there have been (when I was counting) seven cases of LEOs shooting LE K−9's that bit them and would not release the bite!
So I wonder, is it that the dogs are all crap, or is it that the expectations and standards are so vastly different across agencies and the experiences on such a huge spectrum, that what looks "normal" in one area is the exception in the other area?
I think that one of the main problems is the number of former handlers who worked a couple of K−9's, setting themselves up as trainers and vendors. They don't know that they don't know.
Jeremy, I don't think I have the experience you are looking for, but I can tell you from what I've seen...yes and no, it seems to depend on where you are looking. I saw people buying dogs from all over the world, US, Israel, UK, Palestine, Egypt, China...their tests and expectations were all over the place. Some wanted killer, some wanted a dog that wasn't strong enough to take a pinch correction because they needed to be able to teach an "out" using only verbal and a leash and flat collar,
Such standards drive me crazy, some would say that's a short trip. Selecting a dog so that he fits into some preconceived notion that such supposedly "kinder" methods can be used puts handlers at risk. Those dogs are probably not gonna stick around when some three−striker is fighting to the death so he doesn’t have to go back to the joint.
some wanted the dog that redirected and bit the tester, some wanted a dog that just wanted to eat the handler, some wanted balance...It seemed to be a matter of personal taste, honestly (and of course the standards set forth by their specific govt's and agencies). But every dog from what we considered "not-so-good" to "mediocre" to "stellar" found a job to do and was purchased.
Once my department selected a dog when I was on another assignment. He turned out to be a coward that would not even defend himself. Raise your voice or your hand, and he hit the other end of the leash at a dead run. We returned him to the vendor who resold him to another department, out−of−state. Our handler went to a group training and saw the dog with the new handler. The handler had been told by the vendor that he was 'too tough' for his first handler.
So while I tend to be sickened by the amount of crap GSD's we all see out there, my faith isn't lost, I see nice balanced dogs in agencies, in sport, and in homes. I think there are always breeders breeding what you want, whether that's balance, or more civil, etc...I personally like the balance and can't stand it when I hear people say it doesn't exist (not that anyone here said that), because I see it all the time. In malinois, in GSDs, in DS, I know some pretty awesome specimens that are kickin' it on the streets but can be walked through a mall and pet by children without a muzzle. Like I said....different strokes I guess.
I don't think this is just "different strokes."
As I said, I think it's a serious deficiency in knowing what a LE K−9 should be. Not every agency will want such a dog, but the fact is the dog should be able to do this. You never know when it will happen and the dog should not take a child's face off for doing it.