Minnesota Working Dogs

We often think of Labor Day as the end of summer and our last chance to get to the Minnesota State Fair for cheese curds and mini donuts. But, it’s actually a day set aside to celebrate American workers. In honor of the 125th anniversary of this national holiday, we thought it would be fun to recognize some little-known Minnesota workers: Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport’s TSA dogs.

Courtesy of the Transportation Security Administration

TSA dogs are officially known as Passenger Screening Canines. There are nearly 1,100 canine teams hard at work around the country, busy sniffing for explosives or explosive materials in security lines. To become a Passenger Screening Canine team, they undergo a 12-week intensive training session at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in San Antonio. This $12 million facility has 25,000 square foot canine training space with seven classrooms. It also has 13 indoor venues that recreate numerous airport sites, including a baggage claim, checkpoint, cargo facility, and the interior of an aircraft.

As of last February, MSP had six canine teams on active duty. When looking for a dog to go into this line of work, trainers watch for more than a great nose. It’s also imperative that these dogs also have a high-energy drive to work. There are currently seven breeds that have shown exceptional capabilities as Passenger Screening Canines, including:

  • German shepherds
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Labrador retrievers
  • German shorthaired pointers
  • Wirehaired pointers
  • Vizslas
  • Golden retrievers


And don’t worry about the dogs who don’t complete their training or retire. The TSA also runs a doggy adoption program, but you’ll have to wait more than seven years if you’re interested in getting one of your own! In most cases, trainers are given the opportunity to adopt their partners first, and they rarely refuse. We can’t blame them!

Happy Labor Day!