What happens to retired service dogs?

These days dogs can have a wide variety of jobs. From sniffing out bombs and drugs, to herding sheep and helping people get through their day. But what happens when the job gets too much for them? Find out what happens to retired service dogs.

Usually when it comes to working dogs, there are certain breeds better suited to particular jobs than others. For example, collies make great sheepdogs while labradors and retrievers are often the breed of choice when it comes to guide dogs. Different roles also require varying levels and types of training. A police dog will have been taught much more aggressive behaviours than a guide dog. So are certain breeds from certain job roles easier to re-home than others?

Rehoming a sheepdog

Sheepdogs are very highly trained and generally stick with the same farmer throughout their entire life. They will have an incredible bond with their farmer and can find it hard to retire. As such, many sheepdogs end up spending their retirement on the same farm they grew up on. They will often help to train up the younger dog that will be used as their replacement. There are rescue centres around the country who do re-home sheepdogs though. Taking on an older sheepdog can be hard work as they are so active, even into later life.

Rehoming a guide dog

Many retired guide dogs end up staying within the family that they’ve been working with, however some guide dogs will need to be re-homed. Some dogs may be withdrawn early from the training programme due to behavioural issues or health conditions. The charity has a list of essential criteria for rehoming one of their dogs. One of the stipulations is that you don’t work full-time and won’t leave the dog alone for more than 4 hours at a time. This requirement may not suit all households and lifestyles. The charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People aim to re-home their dogs with people with any level of hearing loss who would benefit from the companionship of an emotional support dog rather than require the assistance of a fully-trained hearing dog.

Rehoming a police dog

In most instances, a police dog will stay with its handler once it retires. Rehoming a police dog can be more difficult, especially if they have been trained as an ‘attack’ dog. While there is no single organisation dedicated to helping retired police dogs, there are many regional charities that do. It’s a big task to take on a retired police dog as they can be tricky to cover when it comes to pet insurance. The London Retired Police Dogs Trust, WAGS and Pawsome Pensions are all charities that have been set up to help the owners of retired service dogs that were employed by the police with the cost of vet’s bills as they get older. 

Fri Oct 8 2021