The Minnesota State Patrol K-9 unit is currently staffed with 10 dogs trained to detect the odor of narcotics, and one trained to detect explosives. The State Patrol K-9's are not trained in other typical police functions such as apprehension or tracking. The dogs live with their State Trooper handlers' families.
The Minnesota State Patrol K-9's are mostly Belgian Malinois which many people believe resembles they resemble a smaller version of a typical German Shepherd. The unit also uses some Laborador Retrievers and a Pointer-Jack Russell Terrier mix. Their smaller size fits their assignment well and allows them to access and sniff an area as small as the trunk of a passenger vehicle.
These dogs are trained to sniff loaded semi-trailers by walking on top of the cargo, or by squeezing through gaps in the cargo, to check 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 the same vehicle.
Troopers and their K-9 partners meet as a group for two days of training each month, and handlers perform maintenance training throughout the month. This regular training is imperative for both the dog and handler to maintain their high level of performance.
K-9 teams are stationed in various parts of the state. All Minnesota State Patrol K-9 Troopers regularly respond to requests for assistance from a variety of allied law enforcement agencies. Requests range from assisting other Troopers on traffic stops, to assisting local law enforcement where drugs are believed to be hidden inside houses or other structures.