How to adopt retired police dogs

Updated April 17, 2017

Many dogs retire from the police academy and military every year. Few get adopted out after they complete their service. Most retired police dogs tend to be older, and are at least eight years of age. Some dogs retire early when they do not complete training and may still be puppies. If a retired police working dog fits your lifestyle, you can adopt one after doing some research and preparation.

Search newspaper classified ads and online ads for retired working dogs. Contact government agencies, such as police departments, law enforcement agencies and all branches of the military, and ask if there are any retired dogs that have been declared "in excess," and explain that you are interested in adopting one. "In excess" dogs are sometimes euthanized. Animal shelters and non-profit organisations that specialise in adopting out police and military dogs can also help you locate retired dogs.

Evaluate your home and lifestyle. There are many requirements before you can be approved to bring home a retired police dog. Police dogs are usually trained to be aggressive and high in energy throughout their whole working lives. Even if they have reached a certain age where they may seem mellow, they still have the potential to attack. You may want to reconsider getting a retired police dog if you have young children and other pets. Typically, organisations will not allow police dogs in homes with cats or children younger than eight years of age.

Complete all required paperwork. If you contact the military for their retired working dogs, priority goes to law enforcement agencies, then handlers and last of all to the public. When the organisation receives your application, they may set up an interview for a thorough evaluation as to whether or not you will make a suitable owner. They may also request to inspect your home to ensure that it has proper yard enclosures.

Pay the adoption fee. Fees vary depending on where you adopt the dog from. If you are getting the dog from a previous owner, there may be a re-homing fee. On the other hand, the Military Working Dog Foundation, a non-profit organisation, does not charge any fees.


Be persistent when contacting government agencies. Police and military personnel are very busy and may not return messages and phone calls. You must be prepared to tell them exactly what you want. Most police working dogs are German Shepherds, but don't be disappointed if they have another breed you don't expect.


Retired police dogs are not for inexperienced dog owners.

Things You'll Need

  • Crate
  • Leash
  • Collar
  • Fenced-in yard
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About the Author

Ellice Lin graduated from the University of California, Irvine, with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. She continued her education and earned a master's degree from Rice University. She is an environmental consultant writing air quality reports in Southern California.