The Garda Dog Unit was first established in 1960. Since that time the unit has steadily expanded and now has a total of 19 dogs.The Units main base is at Kilmainham Garda Station in Dublin but there are also Garda Dog handlers based in Limerick and Cork.
The main functions of the Dog Unit include General Patrols, Tracking suspects, Searching (mainly for drugs and explosives) and public order situations. The Dog Unit is regularly used to search for articles and evidence and to assist in searching for missing persons.
The types of dogs used are German Shepherds, Springer Spaniels, Labradors and Flat Coated Retrievers. However, the first choice of dog for general police work is usually the German Shepherd who is recognised for his intelligence, vigilance and loyalty.
There is a training period of 14 weeks before a dog team is ready for operational duty. Specialised dogs (drugs & explosive) will train for an additional six to eight weeks before becoming operational. On-going training is important and is carried out on a very regular basis.