The tiny police dogs of the future for the Ministry of Defence Police Service are learning to walk and taking solid food for the first time having reached the tender age of three weeks. The appealing 12 Belgium Shepherd puppies, born on 10 July, are the first ever MoD Police Force dog recruits to be born to the police unit in HM Naval Base Devonport, Plymouth.
Their melting chocolate brown eyes are finally open, they totter around uncertainly on their legs and they walk in their bowls of food – these are the new police dogs of the future, destined to patrol MoD assets nationwide. For now however, they are the cutest attraction at the kennels in the base. Sergeant Matt Robertson, of the MoD police force dog unit, said: “Not surprisingly, people are queuing up to come and see them.
The puppies are learning to walk and their eyes are opened fully. They have all put on a healthy weight and are very well and thriving. We are all very proud of them and their mother Willow.” Willow has produced only the second such litter for the MoD Police Force as part of the new programme to breed its own dogs for the future. Previously, the police service bought in new dogs.
This is a first for the police dog unit in Devonport. There have been two previous such litters bred especially by and for the MoD Police. The first at the breeder’s kennels, the second was at police headquarters and this now the third – a coup for Devonport. 1 of 2 Once the pups have reached the age of eight weeks they will leave their crèche and go for development training – a major step towards playing a crucial role in the UK’s security.
The force dog unit usually bought in German Shepherds as new recruits, but they have increasingly become susceptible to health problems which shortened their working life. The best way forward both to guarantee good quality healthy dogs and provide value for tax payers’ money, was to remain in- house and switch breed to Belgium Shepherds of the Malinois variety.
Matt said: “The breeding programme guarantee us a high standard of dog, we know the origins of the dogs and their genetic history and their temperament. This breed is already known for its sociable character and they are easy to train with a high level of fitness.
The breeding programme means we can trace their lineage and parentage – the father is the same in both litters and the mothers are sisters.
We are confident we can carry on this programme and within the force, Devonport will become a centre of excellence.”