How to Buy a Retired Police Dog

Many people are interested in adopting and caring for retired service dogs. Police dogs that have served in K9 units are not often available for adoption by the general public because of liability issues due to the dogs' training and work experience. However, you may be able to adopt a former police dog that did not complete its training or was not suited to the work.


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    Evaluate whether a retired service dog would be a good fit for you. Retired police dogs are usually German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds or Belgian Malinois. These breeds are extremely active and have been classified by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as part of the herding group.
    • Determine whether or not you will have the time for daily walks and play sessions with an adopted dog. All breeds selected for police service require large amounts of physical activity.
    • Think about whether a medium sized dog is a good fit for you and your household. A medium sized dog usually ranges in height from 21 to 27 inches (58.3 to 68.9 cm). If you are renting, your landlord may have weight and height restrictions for any pets. If you have limited living space, a medium sized dog may not have ample room to move about. Consider whether you have the physical strength to train and play with a medium sized dog on a daily basis.
    • Consider the dog's age. Although dogs available from rescue organizations may be younger, many retired service dogs will be older dogs and require frequent veterinary services.
    • Take into account that retired police dogs may have injuries, and you would need to pay special attention to their health problems. Request veterinary records and make sure you are able to accommodate the dog's injury or illness before you proceed with an adoption.
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    Prepare your home. Most organizations that adopt out retired service dogs have requirements for the home environments offered by prospective adopters.
    • Make sure all fences are at least 6 feet (1.8 m) or higher.
    • Double check that all fencing and gates are in good repair.
    • Fix any problems you find before submitting an adoption application.
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    Search for organizations that adopt retired police dogs.
    • Contact breed specific rescue organizations for Belgian Malinois, German Shepherds, or Dutch Shepherds. Tell the person you speak with that you are interested in adopting a retired police dog. The representative at the organization can let you know if any dogs that trained or worked in K9 units are available for adoption. Ask the person to record your contact information if no police dogs currently need homes.
    • Check the K9 Global Training Academy's (K9 GTA) website to see if they are accepting applications for adoption of retired police dogs. The K9 GTA is a training organization located in Texas for police and military dogs that sometimes has retired service dogs available for adoption.
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    Submit an adoption application.
    • Give the adopting organization permission to interview your veterinarian and neighbors about your treatment of any pets--past or present. Most organizations want to make sure retired service dogs go to the best homes possible and verify that prospective owners are responsible pet owners before approving adoptions.
    • Provide all information requested in the application. Most applications for retired police or military dogs will specify that the household cannot have cats or children younger than age 8.
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    Find out how the organization will notify you of its decision.
    • Each organization will have a different review process. Ask a contact person for a typical timeline of the adoption process and how you will be contacted. For example, the K9 GTA emails its decisions and will give a follow-up phone call to prospective owners who are approved for adoption.
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    Wait to see whether the organization approves your adoption application.


  • Consider applying to adopt a retired military dog if you can't adopt a police dog. Military dogs have many of the same characteristics of police dogs. In the United States, President Clinton signed a law in 2000 allowing the general public to adopt military dogs.
  • If you are not able to adopt a retired police dog yourself, you can still help improve the quality of life of retired K9 dogs by contributing to charities that support retired police dogs. After a police dog retires, the dog's handler often adopts the dog, but the handler does not receive money for taking care of the dog. Your contribution can help pay for food, toys, and more importantly, medical care. Many retired police dogs have sustained serious injuries.


  • Retired police and military dogs are not recommended for first time owners.
  • Police dogs have experienced different training than regular house pets. If you are approved for adoption, make sure you listen to the advice of the adoption agency on how to handle the dog appropriately based on its temperament and experience.

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Categories: Choosing a Dog