Smallest police dog and her owner

Tiny pets are surely one of the cutest and most popular aspects of Guinness World Records.

From Pearl the smallest dog to the tiny Tinker Toy, the smallest cat in history, plenty of pocket-sized animals have become true legends thanks to their size.

Among them, in the heart of Geauga County, Ohio, USA, is Midge, a one-of-a-kind cross between a Chihuahua and a rat terrier who changed the rules of a very specific category of working dogs.

Measuring a total of 28 cm (11 in) tall and 58 cm (23 in) long, this pawsome pet became the smallest police dog ever enrolled in law enforcement.

With a lot of benefits coming with her unique size, like the possibility to sniff narcotics hidden under vehicles or effortlessly slip into tiny spaces, the petite Chihuahua's impact on her community was huge. 

Midge sitting with flag

Midge's record-breaking efforts began in 2006, when she joined the police as a trained assistant (also known as 'Police K-9') with her beloved handler Sheriff Dan McClelland (USA). 

The tiny officer passed her Ohio Certification as a Narcotics Dog on 7 November 2006, and immediately got to work, mainly as a detection dog. 

Thanks to her certification, she was alert to the presence of narcotics (mainly marijuana and heroin) and worked as a fully-operative member of the police, participating in arrests and search warrants.

And thanks to her minute but unconventional size, she could easily keep up with her bigger colleagues, performing well in tasks that might have been challenging for larger canine species. 

An invaluable asset against crime, the actions of K-9 officers are recognized by courts and judges.

Breeds like the German Shepherd and the lighter Belgian Malinois, as well as Labrador Retrievers, Dobermanns and Beagles, are still the most popular and sought-after when it comes to police and army: quick, smart and perhaps a tad intimidating, larger dogs are generally the optimal candidates for the K-9 department. Their roles can vary from apprehending criminals to rescuing civilians during emergencies.

As it's easy to imagine, then, Midge's case was almost unique. 

"It's not the most macho thing to be a police officer with a dog that might look like she might belong to Paris Hilton," said Sheriff McClelland to the Daily Mail, "but you don't have to be the biggest kid on the block to do good things."

Even tinier than a Beagle, Midge was nonetheless an invaluable partner, small enough to sniff out illegal substances in compact hideouts: she could search school lockers (she concluded her first search as a six-month-old pup!) and underneath cars. She could slip into tight spaces unnoticed, investigate discreetly, and remain inconspicuous.

She also performed regular drug checks of inmates' property at the county prisons.

Midge and her owner

But, when in the office with her handler, Midget also enjoyed her downtime as a lap dog. 

When she and Sheriff McClelland weren't out in the streets fighting crime, Midge was allowed to take much-deserved naps on the sheriff's lap thanks to her size – something that the larger puppies sadly can’t do while their owners sit at their desks! 

On a quiet day, she would also participate in parades and join her owner during meetings.

Her popularity largely transcended her size and, as the former spokesperson for the sheriff's office Lt John Hiscox told Sky News: "It was like bringing Elvis Presley to the midway."

The successor of Sheriff McClelland, Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand, told AP that the record-breaking dog became a true local celebrity, and people would recognize her in the streets.  

"He used to joke that people would see him in a parade in a car and would say, 'Hey, there's Midge and whatshisname'," Sheriff Hildenbrand joked. "I think she was more popular than him."

In 2016, after a decade of dedicated service, Midge retired with Sheriff McClelland. 

At that point, McClelland had served for 44 years - 13 of that as sheriff - and decided he would spend his free time touring around the world with his wife and Midge.

Sadly, in April 2021, at the age of 65, Sheriff McClelland passed away from cancer. 

Midge followed him across the rainbow bridge only two hours later, with newspapers worldwide reporting the news and unanimously expressing their grief.

Mike DeWine, the governor of Ohio, wrote on Facebook and X after the sad news: "As Attorney General, I got to work with Sheriff McClelland - and Midge was always nearby.

"They will both be missed."

Now Midge and Sheriff McClelland rest together, as reported by the family. 

To this day, Midge's record and memory live on, together with the extraordinary mark a tiny dog can leave on an entire community. 

Her successes and career remind us that, sometimes, the smallest paws leave the biggest paw prints.

If you love watching records being broken you should check out our Records Weekly series on YouTube...

Want more? Follow us on Google News and across our social media channels to stay up-to-date with all things Guinness World Records! You can find us on Facebook, Twitter/X, Instagram, ThreadsTikTok, LinkedIn, and Snapchat Discover.

Don't forget to check out our videos on YouTube and become part of our group chat by following the Guinness World Records WhatsApp channel.

Still not had enough? Click here to buy our latest book, filled to the brim with stories about our amazing record breakers.