Approximately 1,200 dogs are assigned to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The canines are tasked with performing security checks, often used to detect drugs, explosives, and other materials that are illegal or could pose a danger to airport personnel and travelers. While most are selected based on their prowess, the shape of a dog’s ears will also play a role.
The TSA is beginning to make finding dogs with “floppy” ears a bigger priority for airport security. Mainly, according to a report by the Daily Wire, this is because pointed eared canines “scare children.”
“We’ve made a conscious effort in TSA … to use floppy ear dogs,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske during a tour of Washington Dulles International Airport.
“We find the passenger acceptance of floppy ear dogs is just better,” Pekoske continued. “It presents just a little bit less of a concern.”
“Doesn’t scare children,” he added.
“TSA uses five types of sporting breeds: Labrador Retrievers, German Shorthaired Pointers, Wirehaired Pointers, Vizslas, and Golden Retrievers,” said Anna Giaritelli of the Washington Examiner.
“It also uses two types of pointy-ear, or working breed, dogs: the German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois.”
Approximately 80 percent of the TSA’s current canine force are floppy eared varieties. The remaining 20 percent have pointy ears and will be largely phased out.
However, limiting the number of pointy-eared dogs isn’t a formal requirement. Instead, it is an informal internal decision, according to TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.
The TSA isn’t automatically disqualifying or removing all pointy-eared canines, as finding dogs with the willingness and ability to perform well during security checks is the most pressing concern.
Training a single dog for the duties required of them can cost between $26,000 and $42,000, so finding a pup with the right temperament and capabilities is a vital part of the equation from both a functional and financial perspective.