The Minnesota State Patrol K-9 unit is currently staffed with 14 dogs trained to detect the odor of narcotics, and one explosive detection dog. The State Patrol K-9's are not trained in other typical police functions such as apprehension or tracking. The State Patrol K-9's live with their state trooper handlers and the handler's families.
The Minnesota State Patrol K-9's are mostly Belgian Malinois which many people believe resembles a smaller version of a typical police German Shepherd. The unit also uses some Labs and a Pointer Jack mix. This smaller size fits their assignment well. The smaller size allows them to access and sniff an area as small as the trunk of a passenger vehicle.
These dogs are also trained to sniff loaded semi-trailers by walking on top of the cargo, or by squeezing through gaps in the cargo, to sniff the entire length of the trailer. They are able to do this in a fraction of the time it would take a human to search these same vehicles by hand.
These troopers and their K-9 partners meet as a group for two days of training each month. In addition, the handlers perform other maintenance training throughout the month. This regular training is imperative for both the dog and handler to maintain their high level of expertise.
These K-9 teams are stationed in various areas of the state. All of the Minnesota State Patrol K-9 troopers regularly respond to requests for assistance from a wide variety of allied law enforcement agencies. These requests range from assisting other troopers on a traffic stop, to assisting on many search warrants executed by local law enforcement where drugs were believed to be hidden inside of houses or other structures.