Police Dogs Are Getting Auctioned Off for Being Too Timid

The bidding starts at $31.
police dog china puppy german shepherd
A police sniffer dog takes part in a training session in the northeastern province of Jilin. Not all puppies qualify as police dogs. Photo: Xu Chang/Xinhua via Getty

The Chinese police are auctioning off 54 dogs that failed their tests to become police canines, at a starting price of $31 each.

The dogs, many of which were deemed “too timid” to join the force, are going to be sold on Wednesday at a police dog academy in the northeastern city of Shenyang, according to an official statement.

Attendees will first watch videos of all the dogs on sale before being invited to join the bidding. Successful bidders will pick up the dogs on the same day.


Buyers will be required to sign a written pledge that they will take good care of the animals, the auction announcement says. They also need to promise not to sell or give away the dogs. 

A list of the dogs’ breeds, colors, dates of birth, and reasons for disqualification has been published on the official website of the Criminal Investigation Police University of China, which runs the police dog academy. 

Most of the dogs are German Shepherds about two to three years old. Several are Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherds, Spaniels, and their hybrids. 

The dogs have been disqualified because they are too timid, too old or too small in size, the list says. One dog is getting sold because its hair is too long, while two others are found to have weak hind legs.

Other reasons they were kicked out of the police program include “weak at picking up [items],” “soft ears,” “low excitement levels,” and “ears do not stand up.”  

News of the auction has generated strong interest from the public. By Monday, the list with the dogs’ information had been downloaded more than 82,000 times since it was posted two weeks ago. 

Pet ownership has been rising among the Chinese middle class, and stories about animal welfare regularly prompt heated discussions online.

On the microblogging site Weibo, some joked that the dogs had to make do with being people’s pets after failing to pass civil servant exams, which reminded them of how young Chinese compete in a yearly exam for what’s considered a secure government job. 


“Such intense competitions to become a public servant dog,” one comment said. 

“Does ‘being timid’ at the police academy have the same meaning as ‘being timid’ at home?” another person said. 

A staff member at the police dog academy told the Wuhan Morning Post that the dogs were better at following commands compared with pet dogs because of their training. There was no indication they would be extra aggressive, the person said. 

A state media report in April said China was short of about 20,000 police dogs, and training them usually takes three to four years. Some researchers have been experimenting with cloning elite dogs to enhance the breeding efficiency. The first cloned police canine, a Kunming wolfdog, joined the force in 2019.

The academy in Shenyang has put three batches of disqualified dogs, some of them puppies with brain or developmental deficiencies, on auction this year, its website shows. It’s not clear if all the dogs were sold. The academy could not be reached for comment on Monday. 

Some internet users have asked if they could participate in the auction from afar and get the dogs shipped to them. A few lamented that they were not able to have these dogs since many big cities in China have banned residents from keeping large-sized dogs like German Shepherds. 

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