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Here’s Why Your Police Department Should Never Buy a ‘Green’ Dog

Today’s law enforcement environment is one where all levels of staffing are constantly being asked to do more with less. Across the nation, budgets are regularly being slashed while calls for service are increasing in numbers and growing in length as police officers are constantly being asked to play a social worker role in addition to law enforcement. 

With fewer available funds and more responsibilities than ever, it is no wonder why business savvy executive command officers look to K9 units as a cost-effective force multiplier. As any good steward of tax payer funds should do, these executives want to make certain that the funds they are provided are spent wisely, ensuring that the department gets the most for their money.

What is a 'green' dog?

This is where the ‘green’ dog discussion arises. In the K9 world, a ‘green’ dog is a Police K9 candidate that has been tested for police disciplines but has not yet been trained. Essentially, a ‘green’ dog is nothing more than a dog that has the potential to be an effective police K9. Because this dog has not been trained, it is generally priced between 35% to 55% less than a fully trained Police K9. This considerable ‘saving’ leads many executive officers to look in-house for potential K9 trainers or previous K9 handlers that are already on the payroll to train a ‘green’ dog. Once they have decided on a trainer, they will assign the dog to a new handler for 12-16 weeks before the handler and dog team are able to hit the streets.

police k9 handler training

Why you shouldn’t purchase a 'green' dog

Testing a ‘green’ dog does not by any means guarantee that you will have a quality police K9. Purchasing an untrained dog is a wager on potential, not success. The thirty minutes it takes to test a dog’s capabilities cannot assure that this dog will be able to complete its training at the same level and perform at that level after it is released on duty. Dogs can “wash out,” partway through training, just like humans can. 

One other word of caution regarding the ‘green’ dog you are thinking of purchasing: unfortunately, many of the untrained dogs available through US Police K9 vendors are the weakest candidates available after they have been tested. Typically, these vendors keep the strongest candidates to train and sell as completed Police K9s. This helps to guarantee the maintenance of their brand image as higher quality police K9s help their services appear better to other agencies. This method also ensures that they can capitalize on each dog their agency acquires.

Why a trained dog actually saves you money

Many other vendors sell green dogs from $6,000 to $8,000. Here at Highland Canine Training LLC, a fully trained Narcotics Detection, Patrol, and Trailing K9 is currently available to GSA eligible clients at $11,815. This sum includes more than an elite, fully trained police K9, however – it also includes: 

  • A 3-4 week Handler School (depending on the chosen discipline) 
  • Handler lodging 
  • National court accepted certification 
  • Free re-certifications for as long as the agency owns the dog 
  • Free in-service problem solving for as long as the agency owns the dog 

The aforementioned sum is even less for returning clients or clients purchasing more than one dog at the same time. 

A 52% discount on anything can seem very attractive; however, a closer examination of the numbers reveals that the initial lower price will cost departments significantly more when all of the relevant factors are included.

police k9 training

Why a 'green' dog will cost you more than a trained dog

According to, the average annual Police Sergeant salary is $71,600, while a Police Officer’s average annual salary comes in at $58,320 – not including benefits. Generally, the K9 Sergeant and new Handler will want to travel to numerous vendors to ‘test’ dogs before they are purchased. Depending on the geographic location of your department, this can entail extensive traveling around the United States or Europe resulting in not only exorbitant and unnecessary travel costs but also departmental overtime to cover the shifts that these two employees would have normally worked. 

Once a vendor is selected and a ‘green’ dog has been chosen, the dog and handler now have to be trained. Generally, detection dogs need 10 to 12 weeks of training while dual-purpose detection and patrol/apprehension dogs require 14 to 16 weeks of training. 

Considering the above salary figures in conjunction with a conservative 12-week training period, the agency combined payroll cost for a sergeant to train the ‘green’ dog and new handler is upwards of $26,697. Again, this figure does not include the additional payroll costs of covering the shifts of the two employees while they train. It also does not include the necessary equipment needed to train the dog including bite suits, bite sleeves, and detection training aids. This factor conservatively adds an additional $3,500 to the total cost of this dog. 

When all of these figures are combined, your ‘discounted’ green dog has now cost your agency at least $30,197 plus the cost of the green dog adds up to approximately $36,434. This gargantuan sum of money can wreak havoc on a department’s budget, and will still not guarantee that you will end up with the quality police K9 you were expecting.

In summary

At Highland Canine, we understand that department budgets are continuously being limited and consequently aim to provide departments with the best quality K9s available at the best possible price. Using the previously stated salary figures, one employee attending a three week handler course at Highland Canine will cost the agency $3,364. When added to the cost of the fully trained dog we will provide you, this equals $15,179. In summary, your department purchasing a fully trained K9 in addition to a comprehensive handler course will save you approximately $21,255

Purchasing a fully trained police dog not only is demonstrably more advantageous, it is also significantly more cost effective. Every fully trained Police K9 from Highland has proven itself to be fully capable, reliable and the best at what it is trained to do. At Highland Canine, we do the hard work for you so that your agency can focus on doing its job as effectively as possible while enabling you to make the most of your budget, as well as ensuring that your K9 units are fully prepared to take on everything they will encounter on the streets.