A few weeks ago, two United States Secret Service dogs in Washington, DC named Hurricane and Jordan were injured on the job. They successfully took a man down who was attempting to climb over a White House fence. The dogs sustained only minor bruising and have reportedly returned to duty.
This act of courage inspired me, and I wanted to learn more about the lives and experiences of Secret Service dogs. How are they trained and equipped for the pressures of protecting the President? Here’s what I learned:
- The Secret Service has used police dogs since 1976 to screen areas for presidential visits (source).
- In the past, the Secret Service has exclusively used Belgian Malinois dogs. They’re known for being agile, good workers and effective at detecting explosives (source).
- Each canine and his handler must complete 20 weeks of training before they are ready to begin working. After graduating from basic training, each canine retrains eight hours every week for the rest of its career (source).
- Secret Service canines remain with the Uniformed Division handlers 24 hours a day.
- The average retirement age for a Secret Service dog varies depending on its physical condition, but for most dogs, it’s at about 10 years of age. When a canine is ready to retire, it is retired to his or her handler (source).
- These dogs can run 25 miles per hour and have a bite that applies hundreds of pounds of pressure per square inch (source).
- Secret Service dogs typically cost $6,500 to $8,500, and can be trained to be bomb sniffers or attackers (source).
The job of a Secret Service dog is no joke. They’re hardworking and dedicated animals working right alongside agents to protect and serve. It’s clear that these dogs have become a large and important part of the secret service team protecting the White House. If you’re passing by 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with your DC dog, you may see one on duty. Be sure to take a moment and appreciate what an awesome job he’s doing—and be sure not to pet these canine agents. They’re busy working, after all.