How to Adopt a retired Military Dog?

Adopting a retired military dog can be extremely no way that you could honor a pet that has served our country. Many programs offer civilians a chance to adopt military working dogs or police dogs after their retirement date.

Before the year 2000, old retired military dogs were often euthanized upon the end of their service date or were sent off to train dogs for other allied armies. Since the year 2000 has been law and program for military dog adoption that has been created.

Adopting a retired police dog or military dog could be a fantastic way that you can have a well-trained family pet that has assisted law enforcement, helps with agricultural tasks, potentially assisted with bomb-sniffing, it would search and rescue, served with the military, worked in the training field or worked as a therapy dog. Almost all these military or service dogs are actually well trained and they have a series of specially learned skills.

adopting retired military dogImage by 272447 from Pixabay

In most cases, dogs that are retired from military or police programs have simply let some of these skills slip, are a bit older, or cannot keep up with some of the other dogs in the same field. When dogs start to slow down or their skills start to slow down, they are often retired.

Military dogs receive excellent care throughout their entire career in the service. They have full healthcare benefits just like any other soldier or police officer. As a result, military and police dogs receive highly specialized veterinary care throughout their career. These benefits do not continue after adoption. When you adopt a military dog, you will be responsible for their care and veterinary bills.

The first step towards adopting a military dog or police dog is contacting a foster program or military working dog adoption program. Getting into contact with a local adoptions program can let you know more about the dogs that are available for adoption in your area, the condition they are in and more about any type of adoption fees.

Not all military dogs will receive a home after they retire. 90% of MWD’s end up with their handlers who adopt them after service, but the 10% of dogs that are not adopted will be placed up for adoption. Most of these dogs are between 10-12 years old and they often have varying breeds. Some of the most popular breeds to adopt German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois and Labrador Retrievers.

Where do retired military dogs go?

Most retired military dogs are brought out of active service and used for training purposes and kept in kennel facilities until they are adopted. A large portion of retired military dogs end up getting adopted by their handlers around 10% of military service dogs become available for adoption to the general public through a nationwide adoption program.

At what age are military dogs retired?

Most of these dogs retire between the ages of 10 to 12 years old. Often, many military dogs are unable to manage the conditions of their service in the same manner that a younger dog could. Older dogs often have the chance to train younger dogs as they age but when they are no longer able to keep up with younger dogs or fulfil the full needs of their duties with complete accuracy, they can be retired.

how-to-adopt a retired military dogImage by 272447 from Pixabay

The process for adoption:

The Military working dogs kennels website will help you to find a kennel in the area for military working dogs that you could adopt. You can download the adoption application and then answer all applicable questions on your family and housing situation.

Meeting expectations often require that you don’t have kids under 5 years old and a fenced yard, no intention to move within 6 months, adherence to all ordinances, access to a veterinarian and an agreement to train.

After meeting requirements for adoption, you can have the chance to visit a facility and interact with the working dogs that they have available at that location. Visiting the facility and interacting with the dogs can be an easy way to decide which animal you are most bonded to.

Picking up your dog will happen after you qualify and choose a dog for adoption. When you find a dog that you have bonded with and you agree to the adoption process, you can pick up your dog at an agreed-upon time established at the adoption center. When picking up your dog, make sure that you bring a leash and a crate appropriate for safe transit.

How much does it cost to adopt a retired military dog?

Adopting a retired military dog is a completely free program. There’s no cost associated with adopting a dog if you are approved for the adoption process. The owner will ultimately be responsible for all costs dog care as well as transportation. If you adopt a dog as a service professional or as a law enforcement agency, you will be responsible for establishing a transportation solution for the dog from a facility.

There is a strong public interest in adopting retired military working dogs so prioritizing the thousands of applications each year comes down to finding a person that has been approved and is next in line for the approval process. The program is a first-come-first-served basis and the suitable dog goes to the next party that has waited the longest after the application process.

If you are going to be coming for a service visit to meet a dog in the program and can’t make the appointment, you need to make sure that you cancel the appointment as soon as possible to make room for another applicant. As this is a program with demand from thousands of participants across the United States is very important that you work to maintain appointments when required.

Can I choose the sex and breed of a dog?

On the application, you will be able to set your preferences in terms of gender, color, breed and more. It is no guarantee that the dogs and the program will match your ideal desires but it could be possible to match up retired military working dogs that meet some of your requirements. All retired military working dogs available for adoption have a stable temperament and are considered to be deserving of excellent homes.

adopt retired military dog@user6833411 / FreePik

Where can I adopt a military working dog?

After you visit the website and fill out the adoption application, you’ll be contacted seeking confirmation of an appointment and possible dates that you could come in and meet local dogs for adoption. Each month’s scheduled appointments start with the oldest applications in your area first. Your application will be kept on file fromAfter you visit the website and fill out the adoption application, you’ll be contacted seeking confirmation of an appointment and possible dates that you could come in and meet local dogs for adoption. Each month’s scheduled appointments start with the oldest applications in your area first. Your application will be kept on file from the date of receipt and then you will be contacted within 30 days before the booking of your appointment to visit a local base to meet a perspective dog. If you do not reply to the courtesy e-mail or phone call your application will be deleted from the waiting list. You will need to reapply in order to secure a new slot within the program.

On the day of your appointment you be escorted into your local military base where the dog is located. You will have to bring identification so that you can receive a day pass. Don’t need proof of vehicle insurance, your current registration and your current drivers license. Once you arrive at the kennel facility on the base you’ll see a series of dogs that could be suited to your home life. If you bond with a dog in the kennel system you can proceed with the adoption process.

When you have decided to adopt a dog that you have bonded with in the initial appointment, you can proceed back to the military base for a scheduled pickup appointment. Most departures for military dogs take place the day after the first meeting and agreement to adopt. This leaves the local veterinary hospital enough time for a departure physical which occurs the morning before a new pet is picked up. Veterinary staff provides photocopies of relevant medical records that you can take along to your local veterinarian. Records of the dog are available in the afternoon after the physical appointment. The full process of the exit physical usually takes around one full hour. The adoption process can occasionally be delayed if there is an increased demand at the veterinarian for dogs that experience emergency cases during active service, training, or preparation for deployment. The program will do its best to make sure you can receive your new adopted pet as soon as possible after you have completed the adoption papers.

If you would like to learn more about adopting a service dog, be sure to visit the nationwide adoption page or contact your local MWD adoption organization.

Useful sources for further reading:


ThePets is an informational website that features articles written by qualified veterinarians and professional writers. You can learn more about our editorial process. When selecting food for your pet, use Pet Food Finder, and search for the clinic to treat your pet using Vet Clinics Locator.

4 people found this helpful.

helpful not helpful