What Does The K9 Unit Do?

The Minneapolis Police Department’s K9 Unit has been serving the citizens of Minneapolis and the men and women of the police department since 1966. The K9 Unit currently has 17 canine teams. The dogs used by the unit are mostly German Shepherds and Belgian Malinoises. They are initially trained for suspect detection and apprehension.

Many dogs receive training in narcotics and explosives detection. The selection process for our dogs is rigorous. We receive many calls from citizens who wish to donate dogs for police service but few dogs have the ability to do what the job demands. Purchasing police dogs is costly. All of the dogs live at home with their police partners and their families.

The primary purpose of canines trained for police work is to make the police officer’s job safer. Police dogs serve an important role because they are often used in high-risk situations.

Mission Statement

The Minneapolis Police K9 Foundation is a tax-exempt non-profit corporation created for charitable purposes. Its mission is to provide financial support to the Minneapolis Police Department’s K9 Unit.

Although the Minneapolis Police K9 Foundation is entirely independent of the Minneapolis Police Department, the Foundation works in cooperation with the K9 Unit to identify and provide special needs that are unable to be funded through the regular budget.

The Foundation seeks to offer opportunities through fund raising from the area business’ and community members to support law enforcement by making tax-deductible donations. The Foundation also works as an educational resource for the community helping to explain how the K9 Unit benefits both the community and police department.

Board of Directors

President: Erin
Secretary: Erin
Treasurer: Kris
Members: Amy, Ellen, Jeremy


How many members are there in the Minneapolis Police Departments K9 Unit?
Currently there are 2 Sergeants and 11 Officers in the K9 Unit, all members have a K9 partner.

What breed of dogs do you use for police work?
Most of our K9s are German Shepherds.  We also have one Belgian Malinois, two German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois crosses and one Dutch Shepherd.

Do you use male or female dogs?
We will always take the best K9 available at the time we are looking for dogs but most of the time male dogs are used.

Do you neuter or spay the K9 you use for Police work?
No, only if needed for medical reasons.

How long do you use your K9 before you retire them?
That totally depends on the physical condition of each K9.  Generally, our K9s work until they are 9 or 10 years old.

What happens to your K9 when they are retired?
The handler and K9 develop a very special bond since they often spend more time together than the handler does with family members. Our K9s, once retired, will spend the rest of their life living as a member of the handlers family.

Does the dog go home with you?
All of our K9s go home with the handler when they are not working.

How much and many times a day do you feed your K9?
That depends on the needs of the dog and discretion of the handler.  K9s, like people, are all different and some need more food than others and some preform better eating once a day instead of twice a day.

Who pays for the food and medical expenses of the K9s?
The City of Minneapolis pays for the medical/veterinarian expenses of the K9s and their food.

Who buys the K9s for the K9 Unit and how much do they cost?
The Minneapolis Police K9 Foundation purchases most of the K9s for our K9 unit.  The average price of a new K9 candidate is approximately $6,800.

What do you look for when you look at new police K9 candidates?
We look for dogs that are usually between the ages of 12-16 months old.  We will only consider K9s that are very social, like to play and use their nose.  If the K9  has bit somebody or is mean, we are not interested in them.  We also don’t like to take K9s that have been trained, we like to do all the training ourselves with the K9.

Who trains your K9s?
We have two trainers in our K9 Unit and they are responsible for training the new K9s along with their handlers.

How long does your K9 training academy last?
The initial K9 training academy lasts 12 weeks.  Upon completion of that 12 week training period the K9s are trained in Obedience, Agility, Article Searching, Tracking, Building Searching and Apprehension.  All of the new K9s must show proficiency in those areas before they will be allowed to work the street with their handler.

How often do you train with the K9s after the initial academy is complete?
K9 handlers routinely train a little bit everyday with their K9 partner.  The K9 team is also required to attend weekly K9 training with the K9 Unit.

How are the K9s tested?
Minneapolis uses the testing and certification guidelines set forth by the United States Police K9 Association.  Each K9 team is required to test/certify yearly in order to continue working the street.

Do you have drug dogs and bomb dog in the Minneapolis K9 Unit?
All of our K9s are crossed trained.  That means in addition to their regular street patrol duties, all of our K9s are also trained in either narcotics detection or bomb detection.