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Operations Division

K-9 Unit

The Modesto Police K-9 Unit is operates within the Operations Bureau of the police department. The K-9 unit has positions for full-time canine teams. In addition, the department has full-time working narcotic detection dog teams, who track down illegal drugs.

Modesto PD K-9 Unit

The K-9 Team’s Home Life

We believe in the very special bond that exists between the K-9 and the handler. All our K-9s go home with the handlers each day, and become part of the family. At home, the dogs spend time relaxing, or enjoying their favorite hobby. Some of the dogs love to play ball, while others enjoy spending time in the family swimming pool.


What Kind of Dogs Do We Use?

Currently we use German Shepherd Dogs and Belgian Malenois for Patrol, Cross-Training and Drug Detection work.

What Do We Use the Dogs For?

Patrol K-9’s are used to search for criminal suspects as well as lost or missing persons. Due to the dog’s keen sense of smell, a K-9 is able to search an area of building in less then half the time it takes for an officer to search. We also use the dogs for tracking and evidence searching. The dogs have the ability to follow a person’s footsteps and indicate the location of dropped articles. Patrol dogs assist in controlling unruly crowds and they are trained to protect their handler from assault. They are used to apprehend fleeing suspects as determined by the handler.

Drug detection dogs are trained to locate various types of drugs, including Marijuana, Methamphetamine, Cocaine, and Heroin.

Cross-Trained dogs are K-9 teams which are trained to do both Patrol Dog functions and Drug Detection Dog functions.

The K-9 Unit also conducts nearly 100 public demonstrations each year.

Where Do the Dogs Come From?

We purchase the dogs from various kennels in the United States and Europe.

Why do you get dogs from Europe? K-9 Team
We started looking at European dogs in the early 1980’s, as did many other police departments. Canine training in Europe, especially in Denmark, is a major sport, similar to baseball here in the U.S. We found that there were very high quality dogs, with basic training already learned, available in Europe at a very low price. As with many things, however, as the demand increased, so did the price. Although it is still possible to find quality dogs at a low price, it is much more difficult. We are now getting the majority of our dogs here in the U.S.

Another reason we purchased dogs from Denmark is because our training methods are very similar to those used by the Danish police. In 1994, members of the Modesto Police Department were allowed to attend a Danish K-9 training school in which few Americans have been admitted. Upon return from the school, the Modesto Police Department switched our training methods to resemble the Danish style. As a result, our K-9 use statistics nearly tripled in the first year. The dogs made more apprehensions and located more evidence.

K-9 Team Where are the dogs trained?
The Modesto Police Department conducts all of its own training. We have our own K-9 training facility, which is where the teams conduct weekly training. It is here the dogs are put through rigorous exercises and must pass demanding tests in order to become a police K-9.
How long does a dog usually work?

This varies with each team. We usually start training the dogs around 18-24 months of age. Depending on the dog and the handler, the training can last anywhere from four months to nine months. The dogs usually start showing signs they are ready to retire around the age of eight. After the dogs retire, they stay at the home and live with the family.


The Modesto Police Department K-9 Unit has won many awards.

You can see results of all the Western States Police Canine Association Events, as well as interesting K-9 information by clicking

If you have any questions regarding the K-9 unit, you can contact the Lieutenant of the K-9 Unit at the Modesto Police Department, (209) 572-9500 or email.