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AKC Detection Dog Task Force

AKC Detection Dog Task Force

Homegrown terrorism and mass shootings have sadly become everyday news in the United States. As a result, the demand for explosives detection dogs as a deterrent against such crimes is on the increase with one major problem: there are not enough dogs to meet the growing need.

The US Government purchases 80 to 90% its working dogs from Europe, but there are fewer dogs available from overseas as those countries face their own rising terrorism threats.

The AKC Board of Directors established the AKC Detection Dog Task Force (DDTF) in 2016 to help with this national security issue. The Task Force has interviewed key stakeholders involved in explosives detection including people from academia, government, military, policing, training and breeding. Subsequently, the AKC has launched several initiatives focused on Government Relations, Networking/Education and Breeder Outreach.

Updated Resources:

AKC Patriotic Puppy Handout – GSP 8 1/2 x 11 flyer (download and print)

AKC Patriotic Puppy Handout – Labrador – Postcard  (download and print)

October 2023 AKC Patriotic Puppy Program Participants Deliver Big at K2 Hands-On Seminar 

October 2023NEW Video New Video Highlights Programs to ‘Educate and Empower’ Detection Dog Breeders (blog and link to Video)

September 2023 – AKC DDTF Tri-Fold Brochure

June 2023 – DDTF Webinar: Working Dog Veterinary Care, Your K9 Athlete’s Health (Blog and link to recording)

June 2023Medical Requirements for Green Detector Dogs: What you Need to Know

April 2023 – Law Enforcement K9s: The Crucial Value of Proper Training and Certification (Blog and link to recording)

January 2023 – Robustness in Training with Jay Crafter – Part 2 – K9 Handler Selection in Crucial Conservation Work (Blog and link to recording)

January 2023 – AKC Detection Dog Task Force Launches Quarterly Detection Dog Bulletin 

December 2022 – Robustness in Training with Jay Crafter – Handler and K9 in Crucial Conservation Work (Blog & click link to view recording)

November 2022 – GAO Releases Report on Federal Working Dog Health and Welfare

October 2022 – AKC DDTF Webinar “Robustness in Training” – A Discussion with Jay Crafter of Invictus K9

August 2022 Detection Dog Task Force Hosts 3rd AKC National Detection Dog Conference

August 2022Terrorism experts, dog breeders gather to reverse shortage of domestic bomb sniffing dogs Originally Published by The Hill

July 2022 – Game Changers by Dr. Carmen Battaglia

June 2022Now Available Online: Latest Detection Dog Webinar: 9 – 12 Month Puppies, Getting Started Right For Detection Work

April 2022Webinar Examines the Impact of Pandemic on Detection Dog Industry (Blog & click link to view recording)

March 2022Detection Dog Task Force Launches The Confident Puppy e-Learning Course (Blog & click link to view recording)

January/February 2022 – A Malinois in a Wiener Dog Suit – Originally Published by AKC Family Dog

January 19, 2022 – AKC DDTF Webinar Series – Industry Experts Discuss Key Factors in Raising 6-9 Month Puppies for Detection (Blog & click link to view recording)

November 10, 2021 – AKC DDTF Webinar Series – Recap and Recording: Dogs that Work Need Diets that Work (Blog & click link to view recording)

September 8, 2021 – Questions & Answers: 3 – 6 Month Puppies, Getting Started Right for Detection Work

August 31, 2021 – AKC DDTF Webinar Series – Webinar Highlights Essential Qualities at 3 – 6 Months for Future Detection Dogs (Blog & click link to view recording)

August 2021New Video Highlights AKC Detection Dog Task Force, Patriotic Puppy Program Work to Address Detection Dog Shortage

July 2021 – AKC DDTF Webinar Series – Webinar Highlights Program Changes That Could Positively Impact Detection Dog Shortage (Blog & click link to view recording)

July 2021 – USPCA: American Kennel Club Is Working to Remedy Shortage of Quality US-bred Detection K-9s



April 2021 – Research and Analysis of the American Domestic Government Working Dog Industry

March 2021 – Working dogs: Domestic shortage of key frontline defense against terrorism

March 2021 – Exploring Issues, Challenges and Recommendations for Improving Government Acquisition of US-Bred Working Dogs

March 2021 – Demand Is Soaring for US-Bred Working Dogs, So Why Can’t We Supply More?

Department of Homeland Security/Transportation Security Administration – Explosives Detection Canine Recommended Standards – March 20, 2020

Here’s How the AKC Detection Dog Task Force Is Helping to Address the Shortage of US Bred and Trained Explosives Detection Dogs (Video)

Here’s How the AKC Dog Detection Task Force Is Helping to Improve Our National Security at the Borders

Government Relations – There are many obstacles that stand in the way of U.S. breeders being able to easily sell dogs to the government for detection work, including low market price for top working and field line puppies and complicated government vendor contracts that make it difficult for individual breeders. The AKC Government Relations team, led by Vice President Sheila Goffe, has made strides in bringing these issues to the attention of lawmakers.

AKC Government Relations provided recommendations in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2810) to support using and developing additional sources for high quality domestically-bred working dogs. HR 2810 also requires the Department of Defense to provide reports on specific aspects of military working dog evaluation, procurement and breeding programs.  This includes comparative costs of foreign versus domestically-bred dogs, availability of domestically-bred dogs, and non-classified requirements for “green” (minimally-trained) dogs.

Goffe also was invited to testify on the issue before a Senate committee in October 2017, where she expressed the dire need for these dogs to protect the country.

Networking/Education – The first AKC US Detection Dog Conference took place in early 2017 to start a conversation about increasing the domestic supply of detection candidates. The stakeholders and speakers included members of government, academia and private training/breeding facilities.

Breeder Outreach – AKC works with thousands of breeders around the country, but most are unaware of the detection dog shortage. The AKC Feasibility Study committee is taking steps to communicate the need to breeders through presentations to kennel clubs and parent clubs and articles in AKC newsletters and magazines.