January 11, 2008 / 4:30 PM / in 12 years

British police dog handlers bark orders in German

German police officers walk their searching dogs in front of Hohen Luckow castle June 5, 2007, some 25 km north of the Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm. Derbyshire police have had to import trained German Shepherd (Alsatian) dogs from Germany because they believe dogs bred in England are no longer suited to police work. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Residents in the central English county of Derbyshire may just about be getting used to hearing their local police bark out commands in German.

Derbyshire police have had to import trained German Shepherd (Alsatian) dogs from Germany because they believe dogs bred in England are no longer suited to police work.

“When they come from Germany they have obviously only responded to German commands, but after a few months they are bilingual,” Derbyshire Police spokeswoman Jill Walden said.

It takes a few months before the German dogs get used to commands in English, so handlers must train them by giving the German order first followed by the English translation.

Years of breeding German shepherds as pets in England has made them too tame for police work, British forces believe.

The dogs are no longer considered aggressive enough for police work, like crowd control and keeping dangerous suspects contained, Walden said.

“They are more likely to go and lick you to death than bite you, which is not really a deterrent.”

Reporting by Georgina Cooper, editing by Paul Casciato

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