Toy Poodle Joins Other Small Dogs as Part of Japanese Police Force

Toy dog breeds are tiny, agile and adorable. But fit for police duty? It doesn’t spring first to mind, but in Japan small breeds have been part of Japanese police departments for 21 years! A toy poodle named Hannah recently joined police in Okayama, western Japan after passing a rigorous test. She joins other small dogs as part of Japanese police force that sniff out contraband, explosives and help with missing persons.

It was a Schnauzer back in 2009 that paved the way for other tiny dogs to be able to join police. Within a few years, rules were changed to allow the tiny dogs to undergo a K9 police exam to see if they would be suitable for the work.

Hannah isn’t the first toy poodle to become a police dog. Several years ago, a toy poodle named Mochi joined police in Japan’s Kyoto Prefecture. Mochi passed his police dog exam and became the first toy poodle to be enlisted as a sniffer dog. He had been trained to sniff out drugs and explosives.

The dogs typically serve for shorter terms than their larger police dog counterparts. At the time of Mochi’s acceptance, the four-pound dog already was a certified therapy dog. What he lacked in size, he made up for in intelligence. According to his owner Naomi Yasuda, “Mochi has always been at the top of his class, in training school. I just wanted to find a way for him to help others.”

There’s been a long-haired Chihuahua named Momo (Peach), who qualified for duty as well. Momo beat out 40 other dogs for the job at Nara Prefecture’s search and rescue squad.

Toy poodles Karin and Fuga also qualified for the police force in Tottori Prefecture. Tottori does not have a full-time police canine-force and relies on about 20 privately-owned dogs with special training to help with investigations when needed. A spokesman for the force said: “Their trainers thought the dogs had keen senses and responded exceptionally well to commands.” The dogs are now employed if needed to search for missing hikers in the mountainous region.

Although Japanese police departments traditionally have used breeds such as German Shepherds or Labrador Retrievers for their canine units, they relaxed the rules after some departments struggled to recruit large dogs.

The smaller dogs have already proved their value after the catastrophic tsunami and earthquakes that frequently hit the country, as the small dogs could crawl into spaces searching for people, when their larger canine colleagues could not.

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