Rotorua's police dog section may be led by men but it's the females who are taking over.

Constable Luke Layland is training Coi, a two-year-old female german shepherd, with the intention of becoming operational in May. Once she passes she will join two other bitches - Asta, who is based at Rotorua and Hera, who is in Taupo.

There are 120 police dogs across New Zealand and only six of these are female. On her graduation Coi and Mr Layland will move to the Taupo policing area, which will become the only dog section in the country to have only female dogs.

"It's unusual," said Sergeant Jason Owen, Rotorua police dog section manager.


"Most bitches are taken for breeding. If there are three in a litter they'll hold one for breeding and give two the opportunity to become patrol dogs but they might become another speciality, like customs drugs dogs. Bitches are very good police dogs, they're very strong. All going to plan we'll have three working bitches in the Rotorua and Taupo area."

Mr Layland, 26, has been in the police five years. Along the way he has fostered three dogs which have all gone on to be operational police dogs - Odin, Asta and Kaino.

It was taking on Odin as a puppy and attending a puppy course in 2010 that sealed the deal for Mr Layland.

"That two-week course cemented in my mind that I wanted to do this. I've been brought up around dogs.

"Working by yourself you get to attend all the good jobs. There's nothing more satisfying than you, the offender and the dog - you track and catch them." For now Mr Layland and Coi can't join in on those jobs.

They must wait until she passes all her exams in May they spend every day training to track, search buildings and bags and on obedience.

"I'm confident she'll pass. She's looking good at the moment. Out first goal is to get her up and running. The second is to work as hard as we can," he said.