The Fairfax County Police Department is looking for a few good canine recruits.

It isn't a prerequisite that the applicant be a German shepherd, just that it look like a German shepherd and be capable of working under stressful conditions.

Even with those requirements, police spokesman Warren R. Carmichael said the competition is stiff, noting: "We turn down eight or nine out of 10 applicants."

And female dogs need not apply.

"I believe they have found in performance tests that the males are more suited for the occupational demands of police work," Carmichael said.

The opening for police dogs comes with some new job positions and the departure of Rocky, who is being retired because of a medical disability.

"Rocky has an arthritic spine," said Capt. Stephen D. Danzig, who supervises Rocky and nine other dogs in the K-9 section. "He's retiring after eight years of service." "It is not necessary that the dogs be pure German shepherd, but they must have the appearance of a shepherd," said a recruitment flier distributed yesterday.

That's because they're more easily recognized by citizens as police dogs, Danzig explained.

"It is important that the dogs also have good dispositions as they will be required to perform under very stressful situations," the flier said. "Formal training is not required, since the dogs will complete an extensive training program with the K-9 section."

Carmichael said the department normally hires dogs when they are between 1 and 2 years old.

"Usually when they get in the area of 7 or 8 years they may develop, you know, defects," he said.

In addition to Rocky, the department now employs drug-sniffing Nick, one of nine German shepherds, and Black Jack the bomb dog.

"He's the lab, so we're not looking to replace him," Carmichael said.