For close to 20 years Fox has shown the weekly show, “Cops” and since then there have been many spin-offs (best police chases, best police videos, etc..) and quite often you see the K9 officer being involved (nothing beats a video of a K9 taking down a criminal). 😉
From what I’ve seen, the vast majority of these K9s are either German shepherds or Belgian malinois. In all the years of watching Cops, I think I can count on one hand the number of non-malinois and non-GSD K9 units in the show (once I did see a Dobie and it was interesting to watch).
Why GSDs and malinois? These two breeds are easily trained (both being very intelligent), have stamina to be able to work a long day, are herding dogs (so they are very attentive and protective to their “pack” (meaning the K9 handler)), have a relatively long working life span (roughly 7-10 years for a GSD, 10-15 years for a malinois), can be very powerful (their size, the momentum they can build up while running, and powerful bites), plus the sight of a good example of these breeds can be extremely intimidating.
Don’t think these two breeds are killers – they make great pets (GSDs are far easier than malinois, though) and raised correctly they can be a very loyal companion to any family.
In 1999 James Belushi (Mike Dooley) starred with a German shepherd (“Jerry Lee” played by Mac) in the sequel to “K-9”, “K911”. Jerry Lee is an older and close to retirement K9 office that the captain thinks should be retired but Mike refuses a younger K9 officer has his new partner.
German shepherds are not only the most recognizable breed of dog in the world, they have also been the most popular breed for a pet (or working-pet) dog for almost 100 years. Due to their intelligence, loyalty, ruggedness, and stamina they are also often used in police and military work.
The film also featured a Doberman pincher being used as a younger and more outgoing K9 officer.
Karl Lewis Miller is credited for being the “animal action coordinator” yet the credits do not list any trainers or handlers. Mac is not credited for being in any other film at this time.
Strongheart (Etzel Von Oeringen – Oct 1 1917 – June 24, 1929) is credited for being one of the first canine film stars. He was initially trained in Germany as a police dog he was later brought into the United States by film makers Laurence Trimble and Jane Murfin. Having successfully made the first film star dog, the Vitagraph Dog, Strongheart was able to appear in several films includng the 1925 adaptation of White Fang.
A popular celebrity in his day, Strongheart paved the way for the much better remembered Rin Tin Tin. Strongheart and his mate, Lady Jule, had many offspring and their line survives to this day. In 1929, while being filmed for a movie, Strongheart accidentally made contact with a hot studio light and was burned. These burns caused a tumor to form and Strongheart died as a result of it.
The original Rin Tin Tin (B. September 10, 1918 – D. August 10, 1932) was found by an American serviceman, Lee Duncan, in a bombed out dog kennel in Lorraine, France (WWI) less then two months before the end of the war. He was named after a puppet, Rintintin, that was given to the servicemen as good luck.
He was first “discovered” by producer Charles Jones who was convinced he could easily become the next dog star. Rin Tin Tin’s first big break was in the 1922 film “The Man From Hell’s River ” where he played a wolf. Rinty would play a wolf of a wolf hybrid often in his career, even though he didn’t look like either. His first starring role was in 1923’s Where The North Begins, playing alongside silent screen actress Claire Adams. This film was a huge success and has often been credited with saving Warner Brothers from bankruptcy. It was followed by Shadows of the North (1923), Clash of the Wolves (1925), A Dog of the Regiment (1927), and Tiger Rose (1929).