Chicago Police Canine Unit

The Chicago Police Department’s Canine Unit is a valuable resource utilized by CPD personnel. A canine team consists of an on-duty canine police officer and his assigned Department canine dog. The team is available for assignments 24-hours per day. Canine team duties include conducting building searches for hidden offenders, locating missing persons, tracking suspects who have fled the scene of a crime, performing article searches, detecting narcotics or explosives, and conducting public service canine demonstrations

The below listed questions and answers are most commonly asked by citizens when conducting a canine demonstration. After a demonstration has been performed, a canine handler will address any questions the audience may have.

Top Ten Canine Questions

  1. Where do the police dogs stay when they’re not working?
    The dogs stay with their handler’s families. It is the responsibility of the canine handler to care for the dog 24-hours a day.
  2. Can the dogs do any tricks?
    The canines are not trained to do tricks. Their training pertains to the functions required as a working service dog.
  3. What breed of dog is used for canine work?
    Most of the Chicago Police canines are German Shepherds. We also have Belgian Malinois and Labrador Retrievers. These breeds of dogs are working breeds which have the proper drive and temperament to complete the tasks assigned.
  4. What happens to the dog when it gets too old to work?
    In most cases, the dog is retired and given to the handler to keep as part of the family.
  5. How much does it cost to purchase a canine dog?
    The price varies, but normally the cost exceeds $9000 per dog. The dog has minimal training when it is purchased and must go through extensive training at the Chicago Police Department Canine Training Center.
  6. How do you become a canine handler?
    The Chicago Police Department periodically posts applications for the position of Canine Handler. The applicants must then pass a series of tests to be places on the eligibility list.
  7. How long do the Canine Handlers and their dogs train?
    Initially, the handlers and their dogs train approximately 12-16 weeks at the Chicago Police Department Canine Training Center. The canine team then continuously trains their dogs to keep them sharp, both at the Center and out in the field while on duty.
  8. How many years can a canine dog work?
    Depending on their physical health, most canines are able to work an average of 10 years. Some dogs remain very healthy and are able to work beyond that point.
  9. What do you feed the dogs and how much do they weigh?
    The dogs are fed dry dog food just like your pets at home. Their weight varies depending on the breed, but German Shepards are the largest and generally weigh about 80-100 lbs.
  10. Do the dogs bite?
    YES – ALL dogs bite! Never approach any dog without the owner’s permission.