The Dover Police Department’s Canine Unit is a valuable resource utilized by DPD 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 Dover Police Canine Unit was established in the late 1950’s however, was disbanded until 1988 under Chief Hutchinson.  Initially, the department only had a few dogs but through the years the department has grown where the department now has 5 working dog teams.

The Teams

Each Canine Team is comprised of police officers who serve with their canine partners on a full time basis. Canine Teams are trained for patrol related duties to include, tracking, criminal apprehension, article searches and narcotic detection. Canine Teams are assigned to the Patrol Division.

Canine Handlers

The handlers live and work with their dogs, and by being so close they become a highly trained, close knit team. The dogs save the citizens of Dover countless dollars as their noses can locate suspects and contraband oftentimes in a matter of minutes. This work would normally take several police officers hours of tedious, dangerous searching.

The Canines

The canines allow officers to do their work faster, more efficiently, and in a safer manner. In many cases, just knowing the police canine is on scene and the threat exists of the canine being utilized to locate a suspect has caused suspects to surrender without confrontation or additional flight. This saves time, and has undoubtedly saved officers from injury or possibly death by having a desperate, sometimes armed criminal surrender without incident. If the canine was not on scene the suspect may have chosen a violent confrontation with officers, or fled into the community at large rather than risk going to prison. Being able to apprehend these violent individuals quickly and safely brings an added level of safety to the citizens and community we proudly serve.

K9 F.A.Q.

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. What breed of dog is used for canine work?
Most police canines are German Shepherds or Belgian Malinois, although other breeds and mixed breeds are used as well.  These breeds of dogs are working breeds which have the proper drive and temperament to complete the tasks assigned.  
3. 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.
4. How much does it cost to purchase a canine dog?
The price varies, but normally the cost exceeds $5000 per dog. The dog has minimal training when it is purchased and must go through extensive training at the Delaware State Police Academy.
5. How do you become a canine handler?
The Dover Police Department periodically posts applications for the position of Canine Handler within the department.  Ideally, applicants will have experience with large working breed dogs.
6. How long do the Canine Handlers and their dogs train?
Initially, the handlers and their dogs train approximately 12-16 weeks at the Delaware State Police Department Canine Training Center. The canine team then continuously trains their dogs to keep them sharp, both at the training center, and out in the field while on duty.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. Do the dogs bite?
YES – ALL dogs bite! Never approach any dog without the owner’s permission.

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