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How to Adopt Retired Police Dogs: Overview & Helpful Tips

Written by: Genevieve Dugal

Last Updated on April 15, 2024 by Dogster Team

German Shepherd puppy

How to Adopt Retired Police Dogs: Overview & Helpful Tips

On average, police dogs work in the field for 6–8 years. Therefore, they are ready to hang up their K-9 badges around the age of 9 or 10. When a dog retires, the dog handler may decide to keep him as a pet. If this is not possible, the dog will be put up for adoption. But a former police dog cannot be adopted by just anyone. A lot of checking needs to be done to ensure that the dog and its new owner are right for each other.

Here is what you need to know if you want to adopt one of these brave retired police dogs.

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What Are the Most Common Breeds Trained as Police Dogs?

First and foremost, you might be wondering what breeds would be available for adoption. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the most common breeds to train as police dogs are:1

These breeds are particularly suited to the role for which they are selected, ranging from apprehending suspects, detecting drugs or explosives, to search and rescue operations.

Image by: Ekaterina Brusnika, Shutterstock

What to Know About Retired Police Dogs

Police dogs are obviously extremely well-trained animals. However, the demanding work and the highly stressful situations they must experience throughout their lives can have negative repercussions on their behavior. For example, a retired dog may suffer from anxiety, aggression, or even post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, since they “retire” at a relatively advanced age, the time they will spend with their new owner will of course be shortened.

Nevertheless, adopting a retired police dog remains a wonderful and rewarding opportunity for the animal and for you, because it is your chance to offer a little rest and gentleness to a dog who has worked all his life for our safety.

The 3 Tips on How to Adopt a Retired Police Dog

1. Improve your trainer skills.

Caring for a retired police dog requires a combination of firmness and understanding. If your training skills leave a little to be desired, or if you’ve never had a dog, you should start with this crucial step. So, if you are selected for adoption of one of these dogs, you will be ready to welcome him into your home.

To do this, take dog training lessons. Talk to former dog handlers, learn about the potential problems of a retired police dog, and most importantly, the best ways to deal with these dogs. Find out directly from organizations that work with these dogs and make sure your home is adequate to accommodate such an animal. It’s understandable and very honorable that you want to give a retired police dog a great end of life, but first, you’ll need to make sure you have all the resources to properly care for them.

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Image Credit: GUNDAM_Ai, Shutterstock

2. Start your research with organizations that work with police dogs.

Although there is no organization dedicated to adopting retired police dogs, you can still start your inquiries with law enforcement agencies, such as the National Police Dog Foundation and the North American Police Work Dog Association, nonprofits, such as Mission K-9 Rescue, and dog shelters. Your local police department can also put you in contact with places that have dogs available for adoption.

Note, however, that handlers are still the first choice when police dogs reach retirement age. Then come the law enforcement officers, followed by the general public. Therefore, even if you do find a retired police dog available for adoption, you will probably be placed on a long waiting list.

3. Be persistent in your efforts.

While it is not as easy to adopt a retired police dog as a dog from a shelter, it is not impossible. However, it takes time and a lot of paperwork!

Indeed, you will have a lot of documents to fill out and fees to pay, depending on the organization. You will also have to go through an interview which will determine if you have the skills to care for such an animal. Remember, police dogs were not trained as pets, and therefore require the future owner to have confidence and skills in handling retired police dogs. This is why having military or police training is undoubtedly an advantage during the adoption process.

female volunteer near dog cage in animal shelter
Image by: New Africa, Shutterstock

Dogster_Website dividers_v1_Jan 18 2024-03 Final Thoughts

The decision to bring a retired police dog to your home should always begin with careful research and thought to ensure that the dog in question is a good fit for your family and your family is a good fit for the dog.

Adopting one of these dogs is not an easy process, let alone quick, but it will undoubtedly be a highly rewarding experience. In any case, if you are unsuccessful, or if you can’t wait any longer, simply consider going to your local shelter. There are millions of dogs and cats in need of a home, and many would love to find one with you forever.

Featured Image Credit: Dan_Manila, Shutterstock

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