Sorry, German Shepherds: TSA Wants Floppy Ears

They're 'not as intimidating' as pointy ones, which will soon see their numbers dwindle
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2019 10:15 AM CST
Eette, a 5-year-old at Labrador Retriever and Vizslas mix specially trained by the TSA, stands at a security checkpoint at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport on April 12, 2016.   (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

(Newser) – Call it doggy discrimination: The Transportation Security Administration says it'll transition away from pointy-eared dogs over the next several years, in favor of less-intimidating canines with floppy ears. "We find the passenger acceptance of floppy-ear dogs is just better. It presents just a little bit less of a concern. Doesn't scare children," TSA Administrator David Pekoske tells the Washington Examiner, which reports about 80% of the TSA's 1,200 canines come from sporting or hunting breeds with floppy ears, including Labrador retrievers, German shorthaired pointers, wirehaired pointers, vizslas, and golden retrievers.

About 80% of dogs purchased by the TSA from vendors over the last year were also of those breeds, per the Examiner. They're now preferred over German shepherds and Belgian Malinois with pointy or cone-shaped ears "because they're just not as intimidating" in airport screenings, a TSA rep tells People. Still, "the dog's competence is most important," meaning pointy-eared dogs won't be automatically disqualified from future gigs. Per the San Francisco Chronicle, pointy-eared dogs with high scores on health, odor detection, socialization, and disposition can still find TSA work, but they're more likely to be assigned to bomb-sniffing duty than to be among the 400 dogs tasked with screening passengers. (Thousands of dogs in Florida may need new homes.)

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