Pictures: Cute new arrivals at Essex Police’s Dog Unit

Some of the pups with their mum Steffi

Some of the pups with their mum Steffi - Credit: Archant

ESSEX Police’s Dog Unit has welcomed the arrival of seven cuddly new recruits.

The German Shepherd puppies, three boys and four girls, arrived on May 6 and are all doing well.

Mum Steffi gave birth to boys Razor, Rosco and Ronnie and girls Rizzo, Rhianna, Ruby and Roxy at the unit in Sandon after being bred with a German Shepherd belonging to Greater Manchester Police earlier this year.

Steffi was singled out as being the ideal mum to police puppies because of her strong genes. The new litter is Steffi’s second and the fourth to be born since Essex Police introduced its own puppy breeding programme in July 2010.

It was introduced with the aim of producing strong police dogs to serve the county without having to rely on gift dogs or the sourcing of pups from other forces countrywide.

Having good genes doesn’t automatically make a puppy a future police dog so Steffi’s litter will put to the test at around seven weeks old with a series of tasks designed to assess their confidence, drive and stability.

Those who make the grade will begin training to become general purpose police dogs at about 14- months old. They will be paired with police officer dog handlers before embarking on a course during which they’ll learn how to search, track and detain suspects.

Most Read

New homes will be found with families in Essex for any pups that don’t quite have the qualities needed to train as police dogs.

Steffi’s previous litter born in March 2012. The puppies, who given ‘Olympic-themed’ names, are now around 18 months old and beginning their careers with Essex Police.

Two of the puppies, Flame and Boris, were named with the help of members of the public in our ‘Name a Police Puppy’ competition. Flame has been identified as having the qualities and strong genes to become a future mum to potential police pups and Boris is due to start training to become an operational dog in September along with brothers Jackson, Daley, Seb and Bolt.

Until Steffi’s new litter are ready to begin their training they will go to live with volunteers around the county known as puppy walkers. They don’t train the puppies but aim to introduce them to as many environments, noises and surroundings as possible in readiness for their future career.

Trainer Pc Colin Elsegood is Steffi’s handler and has been overseeing the care of the puppies. He said: “The puppies are all doing well and Steffi has again proved herself to be a really good mum caring for and feeding the new arrivals. It’s great to see the puppies developing and growing in confidence day by day.

“I’m sure there are some really strong puppies in the litter and I’m looking forward to the challenge of turning them into future police dogs to serve our county. Come 2014 there’s going to be even more good quality police dogs policing the streets of Essex.”

The dog unit hopes to welcome the arrival of its next litter in Spring 2014.