How were dogs used in WW1

How were dogs used in WW1

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I know that dogs were used in WW1. I know that they weren't vital, but didn't play a reasonable role in helping the soldiers in the trenches. However, there is one thing that confuses me: How were dogs used to aid in communication in the trenches? Such a task of getting them to deliver a symbol would take intense time wasting training. Something that can be invested in troop training. Other than communication, there only other uses were carrying equipment (not vital) and as a physiological comfort. Does anybody have any-more uses?

Yup. Although not vital to the war, they were useful.

  • First, WW1 was the first war to use chemical weapons. Due to dogs superior sense of smell, they could smell oncoming gas attacks and and alert their handlers, thus minimizing the effect of the poison gas before gas masks could be donned.

  • Another use was guarding. This was not really specific to WW1. Dogs have been used to guard camps and to alert handlers of oncoming troops for centuries.

  • As far as communication, dogs would have to be dedicated to two handlers instead of just one. This was difficult, yet necessary to get a dog to travel immediately and directly to the second handler upon release. However, dogs that were trained to do this were much quicker than humans, presented smaller targets, were able to go over almost any terrain, and were generally reliable. This made their use for communication useful in some circumstances, but definitely not the primary means of communication.

  • Dogs were also used for locating injured men in no-man's land by their scent and sound.

  • Finally, dogs were sometimes used to draw machine guns, but this was not widespread do to the unconventionalism of it.

As a final note, some dogs could hear shells before humans could. They would then alert their handlers. However, I only found this on one Wikipedia page and it was unsourced, so I would take it with a grain of salt.

And, yes, dogs were also used as mascots.





The Animals of World War One in Pictures

Animals were used in the First World War on an unprecedented scale. Horses were certainly the most important animals in the war effort, but numerous other animals played their part, and particularly pigeons and dogs.

The front required consistent supplies of munitions and machinery, and the transport of large bodies of men and equipment meant that animals had an essential role to play as beasts of burden.

By World War Two, many of the supply roles had become mechanised, but World War One retained animal solutions to many of these logistical problems.

Dogs at War: Three-Legged Dog Delivers Crucial Message in WWI

For centuries military dogs have played important roles on the battlefield.

Editor's note: This is the first of a five-part series.

As long as men have been fighting wars, dogs have likely been somewhere on or near the battlefield. And more often than not, dogs have contributed bravely on the front lines, whether officially trained to do so or motivated by loyalty to soldiers.

The history of war dogs is deep: The Corinthians used them with success against the Greeks. The Romans used dogs to guard their legions and raise alarms, as did Attila the Hun, who placed them around his camps for added protection.

The United States military has lagged behind the rest of the world's armies in using dogs, even though the idea was introduced early on. Benjamin Franklin made a somewhat lackluster attempt to advocate for using dogs (though more as weapons) in 1755.

Beginning with the Revolutionary War and through World War I, dogs had a mostly unofficial presence alongside American soldiers, coming to combat either as a beloved pet of a general, as a mascot, or as the stray-made-companion of an obliging soldier.

It wasn't until the onset of World War II that the U.S. War Department, emulating successful war dog programs in Europe, finally set into motion the military dog program that would evolve (and lapse and evolve again) over the next several decades. Started in World War II and continuing through Korea and Vietnam, today the Military Working Dog Program deploys dogs to Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the coming days, we take a look back at a handful (of the many thousands) of war dogs whose stories are powerful testaments to the important roles they played in saving lives—and lifting spirits. (Read "The Dogs of War" in the June issue of National Geographic magazine.)

Ernest Harold Baynes, a reporter who documented the use of animals during World War I, wrote, "The fame of the war dogs may well rest on the splendid work they actually did it needs no support from the stories of what some of the sentimentalists would like to believe they did."

During World War I, at the 1916 Battle of Verdun, a small contingent of French soldiers found themselves boxed in by German forces.

They had been told by the French command to hold their position until reinforcements could be sent. For days they had managed to hold off the Germans, but no one had come to relieve them. Telephone and telegraph lines were down, and no homing pigeons remained to send word.

The scorched and cratered terrain beyond their trenches was too exposed for any human to cross—seven men had already been cut down trying to deliver messages to command. And although one dog had managed to successfully deliver seven messages, he too had been killed.

With food and ammunition depleted and the men's hopes waning, the Germans unleashed a fresh onslaught of artillery and gunfire. The French troops cautiously peered over the top of their trenches. A large, black animal was bounding in their direction. From a distance it was difficult to tell exactly what the charging four-legged creature was. It was wearing a monstrous gas mask, and something was stretched across its shoulders that extended almost like wings.

Then one of the soldiers, a handler named Duval, recognized the animal as his own—a messenger dog named Satan. Duval called out to the dog, urging him on. Leaping over the cratered earth, Satan raced toward the sound of his handler's voice so fast that some of the men later swore he was flying.

The Germans unloaded their arsenal in an all-out attempt to stop this one dog. But Satan continued on, maneuvering in the crisscross pattern he'd been trained to follow, even as bullets snapped the air around him and exploding shells threw up shrapnel and chunks of smoking earth.

A bullet clipped the dog and he stumbled. Then another caught him in the leg, breaking it, and he faltered again, this time hitting the ground.

Seeing his dog go down, Duval climbed out of the trench, exposing himself to enemy fire so that he could call once more to Satan. Duval was shot dead within seconds. But, having heard his handler's voice again, Satan mustered the strength to lift himself off the ground. He started to run again, this time on three legs, his lame limb hanging useless as he ran until, finally, he reached the safety of the French trenches.

The men lifted the limping dog and gently removed the mask, pulling a tube from around his neck to read the message inside: "For God's sake, hold on. We will send troops to relieve you tomorrow." The winglike contraption on Satan's back was a harness balancing two small baskets over the dog's shoulders, each one containing a carrier pigeon.

The French commander scrawled two identical notes describing the German battalion's position. The notes were put in small metal tubes and tied to the pigeons' legs. The two birds lifted into the air, soaring into the sky. The German snipers were waiting for them. A shot picked off the first bird, but the other somehow made it through the spray, flying in the direction of its coop.

Soon the sound of roaring French guns could be heard. The message had been received.

Coming tomorrow: Caesar in the Pacific

Rebecca Frankel is a senior editor at Foreign Policy Magazine. Her book, War Dogs: Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love, will be released in October.

The Dogs of War: The U.S. Army’s Use of Canines in WWII

Throughout history, dogs have accompanied man at work and play. Even in the midst of men’s wars, dogs have been found serving in functions ranging from mascots to weapons of war. Therefore, it was not without precedence that in 1942, following the attack on Pearl Harbor and the entrance of the United States into World War II, a small group of civilian dog enthusiasts approached the Army about creating a program that would utilize the special traits and skills of “man’s best friend” in order to further the war effort.

When the Japanese attacked on 7 December 1941, the U.S. Army possessed only a small number of sled dogs for use in arctic regions. Drawing on the lessons of the past, a group of civilians came together in the belief that dogs could serve the Army in a variety of other functions. These dog fanciers formed a coalition called Dogs for Defense, Inc. (DFD). This organization encouraged dog owners across the country to donate their dogs for training as sentry dogs that would be used to patrol borders, beaches, and industrial facilities in order to prevent sabotage. With the endorsement of the American Kennel Club, DFD quickly began procuring dogs for experiments in training the animals for guard duty under the nominal oversight of the Plant Protection Branch of the Office of the Quartermaster General. In short order, some 100 dogs were procured by DFD and an ad hoc training program was initiated.

At first, the volunteer organization was responsible not only for procuring the dogs, but also for their housing and training. However, it soon became apparent that the varying levels of experience among the volunteer civilian trainers and the inconsistent courses of training in different locations led to dogs that were often incapable of performing the duties expected of them. At the same time, the military began to show interest in a variety of different roles for dogs, both on the home front and in combat theaters. As a result, on 16 July 1942, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson issued a directive that assigned responsibility for procuring and training dogs to the Remount Branch of the Quartermaster Corps (QMC) and expanded their mandate to include the training of dogs for both sentry duty and possible tactical missions as well.

At the outset of the program, DFD and the Remount Branch accepted many different breeds of dogs as long as the dogs were healthy and showed the proper disposition. It was soon discovered, however, that certain breeds were superior to others in performing the types of duties the Army desired, and by 1944, the list of acceptable breeds had shrunk to just seven: German shepherd, Doberman pinscher, Belgian sheepdog, collie, Siberian husky, malamute, and Eskimo dog. These dogs all proved to be hearty in various conditions, eager to work, and capable of the tasks assigned them by the Army.

After narrowing the field of acceptable breeds and consolidating control of the program under the Remount Branch, the stage was set for an expansion and formalization of dog training in the Army. The expertise necessary was put down on paper by one of the organizers of DFD, Mrs. Alene Stern Erlanger, who wrote TM-10-396-WAR DOGS, the Army’s first formal training manual on the subject of dogs in warfare. In addition, by the end of 1942, the QMC opened four dog training facilities at Front Royal, Virginia Fort Robinson, Nebraska Camp Rimini, Montana and San Carlos, California. At these facilities, the Army began an ambitious program to train dogs for duties on the front lines and at home.

The training of the dogs was certainly important in a successful war dog program, but just as important was the training of each animal’s human handler. It was quickly learned that the dogs worked best if they were trained with their handler and assigned to duty as a pair. This allowed for continuity and the formation of a bond between handler and dog, which would be important once they were in the field. Handlers were taught to care for their dogs’ diet, exercise, ongoing training, and housing. Only handlers were allowed to feed their own dogs, and petting and playing were also limited so that dogs soon considered all but their handler to be a threat. This made the dogs extremely effective at detecting and alerting to unauthorized presences. This sort of training did not always stick with the dog, however, and some became detrained by too much interaction with people on beaches or in other public places.

The first of the Army’s canine members were trained for sentry duty. This was deemed the most pressing need since German and Japanese submarine activity off both coasts raised concerns about the potential landing of saboteurs who might be able to gain access to military facilities and important war industries. In response to this threat, dogs were trained to alert their handlers to any strangers in their vicinity, and on command, to attack those intruders. One of the most vital missions performed by these early sentry dogs was the patrol of America’s coastlines. For this task, the QMC-trained dogs were assigned to Coast Guard handlers who used the dogs’ keen senses to patrol the beaches and other areas along the coast. Within a year, more than 1,800 dog teams patrolled the coastlines. By the end of the war, the QMC would assign 3,174 dogs to the Coast Guard.

As the tide of the war changed and the threat of submarine-landed saboteurs diminished, emphasis shifted in the training program from sentry dogs for domestic industry to tactical scout and messenger dogs. It was at this time that one of the most bizarre programs in Army history was conceived, a plan to train canines to recognize and kill Japanese soldiers without a handler or other human guidance.

The idea for these killer dogs came from an unlikely source. William A. Prestre, a Swiss expatriate living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, approached the government with a bold plan to train dogs for the task. The Army was intrigued by the idea which, if successful, might help keep soldiers out of direct contact with the enemy. Prestre was given control of a contingent of dogs and handlers. In order to mimic conditions in the Pacific theater, the Army leased a small island off the coast of Mississippi. Ironically, this small strip of land in the Gulf of Mexico was known as Cat Island.

The entire Cat Island program was predicated on the assumption that Japanese soldiers, whether from diet or racial characteristics, had a distinct odor which dogs could be trained to recognize and attack. Unsurprisingly, the program soon ran into difficulties. First, Prestre had to find Japanese “bait” to train his dogs. It was quickly determined that using prisoners of war was unacceptable. Instead, twenty-five Japanese-American servicemen from Company B, 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate), stationed at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, were “volunteered” for the assignment. Among those selected was Ray Nosaka, a second-generation Japanese-American (often referred to as Nisei) from Hawaii.

On 3 November 1942, Nosaka and his comrades boarded a plane in secret and headed south to a location unknown to them. They made a short stop in Memphis, Tennessee, in order to refuel, but security was so tight that the soldiers were not allowed to deplane, instead eating a hasty lunch of sandwiches delivered to the aircraft while still onboard. When they arrived in Gulfport, Mississippi, they once again were forced to wait. Only when darkness fell were they allowed to exit the plane, and then they were quickly ushered into boats for the trip out to Ship Island, which served as the living quarters for the men involved in the project. Each day, the men would climb into a boat and make the short trip to nearby Cat Island to conduct training.

Training the dogs was a slow and brutal process, both for men and dogs. Cat Island was swampy and humid, and while the dogs were being trained to track down the Nisei bait, the men had to simply wait and hide in these unpleasant conditions. Then things got worse. In order to instill an aggressive spirit in the dogs, Prestre insisted on such brutal methods as whipping and shocking the dogs. Nosaka and the others were also forced to abuse the dogs in order to make them more vicious. Then the dogs would be set loose upon the Nisei. For the most part, the men were protected by their padded gear, but a few bites got through, and most of the men ended up with scars from their service on Cat Island.

Despite these measures to maximize the aggressiveness of the dogs, they continued to perform poorly. Prestre’s plan to use packs of unguided dogs was further undermined when Master Sergeant John Pierce arrived at the project. Pierce, an army dog trainer, firmly believed that the dogs required human handlers, and he quickly proved his point by training a small contingent of dogs to alert their handlers to enemy presence, and to attack only on command. These dogs attacked with much more ferocity, and proved to be much more effective despite having only a few weeks of training, as opposed to the months Prestre had spent trying to train his dogs. The final straw came on 12 January 1943, when a demonstration was held for officers of the Army Ground Forces (AGF). It was plainly apparent to the officers that the program was not working. In short order, Prestre was released, and the project was abandoned.

Assault dog packs were not the only idea being considered, and the Army also conducted experiments in teaching dogs to detect mines. The Germans had begun to use several varieties of non-metallic landmines, which made detection by standard methods all but impossible. It was believed that dogs, designated M-dogs, might be able to detect the mines, and a training program was established. At the time, it was not yet understood how acute the canine sense of smell truly is, and, as a result, training practices were based on false assumptions and incomplete data. The dogs were trained to detect disruption of the ground by humans through a method of self-preservation. Dogs were exposed to partially buried live wires. When the dogs discovered a wire, they received an electric shock. They quickly learned to be wary of any human disturbances in the ground, as presumably, this would allow them to detect mines. In initial demonstrations, these dogs displayed an eighty percent success rate, and this was deemed sufficient.

This system was believed to be effective from the one demonstration carried out stateside in a controlled environment, and the 228th Engineer Mine Detection Company (Dog) was established in November 1943. On 5 May 1944, the men and dogs of the unit boarded a ship and embarked for Africa, arriving in Oran, Algeria, on 30 May. They then crossed the Mediterranean to Naples, Italy, and went to work. Unfortunately, the dogs did not perform as expected, and casualties, both of dogs and handlers, quickly mounted in the unit. Another controlled test was performed in Italy, and it was discovered that the dogs had a mine detection rate of only thirty percent. The unit did not perform any further mine clearing tasks, and by February 1945, the company had returned to the United States to be inactivated.

The M-dog project was innovative but ultimately doomed to failure. It was determined that the dogs could not distinguish between the deliberately turned earth of mine placement and the rubble and debris caused by shells and bombs. In addition, testing was conducted assuming the dogs would be working behind the front lines, but in actual use, they often had to endure combat conditions which further degraded their efficacy. It was only after the war that it was discovered that the canine’s sense of smell is so acute that they can be trained to pick out the chemical components of explosives. As a result, dogs are currently used to detect bombs and mines with great success.

At the same time that the M-dogs were falling out of favor, other tactical dogs began to prove their abilities on the battlefield. In the spring of 1943, a detachment of six scout dogs and two messenger dogs was sent to the Pacific in a test of their usefulness in combat situations. An observer was sent along, and after following the dogs around New Guinea from July to December of that year, he reported back that the animals had performed “consistently excellent.” The most important discovery in this report was that the scout dogs warned their handlers of the presence of Japanese forces at ranges up to 1,000 yards, allowing the Americans to avoid ambush and to gain the element of surprise. The messenger dogs fared just as well. They were observed delivering messages over rough terrain and in short amounts of time over distances of 600 to 1,000 yards. In addition, they presented a much smaller target than a human runner. This was the first true success of the Army’s canine programs in combat, and while some weaknesses were exposed, training in these fields was quickly modified and expanded with superb results.

Two major weaknesses were identified by the 1943 report. First, the stateside training of the dogs included acclimatization to gunfire, but the program failed to address a major component of frontline combat: artillery. The dogs had no experience with artillery fire, and once on the front, they quickly became skittish and ineffective when in the presence of an artillery bombardment. The other shortcoming was that, from time to time, the dogs would bark at night or when they sensed the enemy, effectively giving away their position and that of any accompanying troops. As a result, the Army adjusted its training regimen to address these issues, adding artillery fire to the course and stressing silence at all times.

By June 1944, the War Department had authorized the creation of fifteen Quartermaster war dog platoons. These units had their own Table of Organization and Equipment that included eighteen scout dogs, sixteen messenger dogs, twenty enlisted men, and one officer. All fifteen platoons were shipped overseas by the end of the year, seven to Europe and eight to the Pacific.

Once in theater, another obstacle revealed itself. While in the United States, both dogs and handlers were provided and trained by the QMC, so when they arrived at the front and were attached to infantry units, they often lacked the tactical expertise necessary to effectively carry out their duties. This brought on more changes, and by December 1944, the table of organization had changed once more, eliminating all messenger dogs. In addition, handlers were picked from AGF units so that they entered dog training already having the skills necessary for infantry operations.

Even before all these issues had been addressed, army dogs and their handlers got to work assisting soldiers on the battlefield. The first unit to go overseas was the 25th Quartermaster (QM) War Dog Platoon which left San Francisco on 11 May 1944 and arrived at Guadalcanal on 6 June. By the end of June, they had travelled to Bougainville and joined the 164th Infantry in mopping up the Japanese forces on the island. The dogs performed well, and reports indicated that the infantry troops appreciated the dogs and the service they performed. The second platoon to arrive, the 26th, accompanied soldiers of the 41st Infantry Division on New Guinea and the surrounding islands. It was shortly thereafter assigned to the 31st and 32d Infantry Divisions. On Morotai, in the Dutch East Indies, the 31st Division used the 26th QM War Dog Platoon to help conduct 250 patrols in the course of two-and-a-half months. In this period, not a single one of these patrols was ambushed, proving the invaluable nature of the scout dogs who could alert soldiers to the presence of the enemy at distances ranging from seventy to 200 yards away. Often, the advanced warning of the scout dog enabled GIs to reverse the odds and surprise Japanese defenders.

For the invasion of the Philippines, the 25th, 26th, 39th, 40th, 41st, and 43d QM War Dog Platoons were attached to various infantry units. By this time, the effectiveness of the dogs was well known, and there were not enough to go around for all the units that requested them for their patrols. The dogs were invaluable in the jungle warfare that characterized much of the combat the Pacific Theater. The thick jungle limited human effectiveness, reliant on eyesight and hearing, but the dogs could smell the presence of the enemy despite the obstacles.

Dogs were found to be much less effective in the open, fast-paced fighting in Europe, though they found use there as well. Artillery was more commonly used in Europe, and despite training, intense shelling still caused dogs to become skittish and lose effectiveness. Often Allied troops were making such rapid advances against the Germans, especially in the closing days of the war, that dogs were of little use, so they were relegated to sentry duties. Still, dogs did prove themselves useful in some situations.

In a report to the Quartermaster, Fifth Army, dated 25 December 1944, First Lieutenant Austin Risse told the story of the actions of Corporal Robert Bennett and his dog assigned to the 33d QM War Dog Platoon in Italy. According to the report, Bennett and his dog were leading a patrol in enemy territory to reconnoiter a small village. As they approached, the dog halted, nose pointed and hair bristling. When the patrol leader crept forward, he discovered a large group of German soldiers waiting in ambush less than 200 yards away. As a result of the dog’s action, the patrol withdrew without casualties and ordered in mortar fire on the enemy position, wiping it out.

Another dog in Europe also had the distinction of being the only canine to receive decorations for action. “Chips” was a German shepherd-husky-collie mix who, along with handler Private John Rowell, was attached to the 30th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division. On 10 July 1943, the division landed on Sicily, and Chips and Rowell went to work. As they approached a grass-covered hut, a machine gun opened fire. The hut was, in fact, a camouflaged bunker. Chips quickly escaped Rowell’s control and made a beeline for the bunker. Within seconds, the machine gun fell silent and an Italian soldier tumbled out with Chips chomping at his throat and arms. In short order, three others exited the bunker with arms raised. Chips was lightly wounded in the incident, suffering powder burns and several cuts.

On 24 October 1943, Headquarters, 3d Infantry Division, issued General Order No. 79, which included a citation for the award of the Silver Star to “Chips, 11-A, U.S. Army Dog.” A short time later, he was awarded the Purple Heart. Regulations technically prohibited such an award, and there was some controversy over whether awarding medals intended for humans to dogs was appropriate. In the end, the awards were rescinded, and future such awards banned. Chips went on to serve the Army for another two years and was discharged to his prewar owners on 10 December 1945.

Following the war, many dogs were returned to owners or given to their wartime handlers. This involved retraining so the dogs would be able to function safely in a peacetime civilian setting. Due to their classification as government property, any unclaimed dogs had to be sold as surplus, with the new owner footing the bill to return the shipping crate and food bowl to the Army. Still, this program allowed some civilians to purchase a well-trained and physically fit animal for a bargain price.

The Army took great care in retraining its dogs. The program included handling by multiple people to lessen the dogs’ aggressive tendencies. They were encouraged to play and rewarded for good social behavior. Eventually they would be exposed to an aggressive person and trained not to react aggressively. A few dogs were incapable of retraining or had untreatable diseases and were destroyed, but the vast majority were carefully processed by the QMC and eventually sent to civilian homes. In the end, more than 15,000 applications were received for the returning dogs, and each dog was given a certificate of faithful service and an honorable discharge certificate. Of all the dogs returned to civilian life, about 3,000 in total, only four were returned to the Army as unsuitable for civilian life.

Both dogs and handlers provided an invaluable contribution to the American war effort in World War II. Despite the almost constant peril and close combat experienced by scout dog platoons, handlers were ineligible for the Combat Infantryman Badge due to their assignment to the Quartermaster Corps. Though man and beast alike may not have received the credit they deserved during the war, they proved their worth and pioneered many new tactics. Their legacy can still be found in the military working dogs of the modern Army and the explosives-detecting dogs used by both the armed forces and government agencies.

Military Working Dogs: Canine War Heroes Through History

On Oct. 27, 2019, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois military working dog named Conan took part in the Barisha raid, which resulted in the death of the leader of ISIS. Conan joined a long list of heroic military working dogs.

Call ‘em what you want — war dogs or military working dogs — they have been around for centuries worldwide. The states had an unofficial canine war force in World War I, but military dogs did not become officially recognized until March 13, 1942, when a private organization, Dogs for Defense was established to recruit the public’s dogs for the U.S. military’s War Dog Program, known as the K-9 Corps.

Another key supplier of war dogs was the Doberman Pinscher Club of America, which quickly became linked with the U.S. Marines. The Dobes became a face with the Marines and were given a rank, beginning as privates.

Prominent breeders and trainers were instrumental in appealing to the American public to donate its pet dogs in the war effort. The profile included specific breeds, either sex, between 1-5 years old, physically fit and with “watchdog traits.”

But some of those mandates were relaxed as it quickly became apparent there would not be enough dogs to meet the demand. Breeds and crosses were trimmed to about 30 breeds, led by Airedale Terriers, Boxers, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs, and Saint Bernards.

Donors were given a certificate by the government as a means of thanks for their “patriotic duty.” Dogs were immediately sent into training, where some excelled and others didn’t. Wash-outs were returned to their owners those who passed were eventually sent into battle from foxholes to beach fronts, where they were utilized for messenger, mine-detection, sentry and scout duties.

Eventually, the military began training its own dogs, but by the war’s end, Dogs for Defense procured approximately 18,000 of the 20,000 dogs.

One of the WWII famed fur warriors was Chips, a German Shepherd/Alaskan Husky/Collie mix that was a donated New York family dog who is credited with saving the lives of many U.S. soldiers and earning a Purple Heart and Silver Star.

Korean War Dogs

Five years after WWII, the Korean Conflict triggered the need for military working dogs again. They were chiefly deployed on combat night patrols and were detested by the North Koreans and Chinese because of their ability to ambush snipers, penetrate enemy lines and scent out enemy positions. It reached a point where reports noted the foes were using loudspeakers saying, “Yankee, take your dog and go home!”

Despite the success of the canines on night patrols, the shuttling around of training duties on the home front resulted in only one Army scout-dog platoon seeing service in Korea. The Air Force, too, utilized dogs there, chiefly for patrolling air-base perimeters and guarding bomb dumps and supply areas.

Vietnam War Dogs

Fast forward to Vietnam – a totally new environment and job description for these “fur missiles,” as some military dog handlers described them. Welcome to thick vegetation, continued rain, subsequent mud and plenty of challenging heat and humidity.

In a terrific chronology, “Cold Nose, Brave Heart: Legendary American War Dogs,” by Linda McMaken in The Elks Magazine, May 2009, U.S. Marine LCPL Charles Yates of the 3rd Amphibian Tractor Battalion, 1st Marine Division, says, “Charlie hated our dogs. When the mortars hit, they went first for the ammo tent and second for the dog kennel. These dogs walked sentry and alerted us to many Viet Cong ambushes.” An estimated 4,000 dogs and 9,000 military-dog handlers served in Vietnam.

Their duties were widespread – scout, sentry, patrol, mine and booby-trap detection, water and combat. Like their predecessors in Korea, these four-legged soldiers were so hated by the Viet Cong, that they attracted a $20,000 bounty for their capture.

“Surplus Equipment”

When we exited Vietnam – in a hurry – the military working dogs that served our forces so admirably and saved untold lives were left behind, as they were classified as “surplus equipment.” Despite pleas from many handlers who were willing to pay their dog’s flight home, the military would not permit it. Consequently, some were transferred to the South Vietnamese military and police units who were not trained to handle them and others were euthanized. It is estimated that of 4,000 that served, fewer than 200 made it back to the U.S.

But that should never happen again. Following a public outcry, led by many irate former U.S. military-dog handlers, in 2000, Congress passed “Robby’s Law” allowing for the adoption of these dogs by law-enforcement agencies, former handlers and others capable of caring for them.

In a New York Times Opinion piece Oct. 3, 2017, Richard Cunningham, a sentry-dog handler in Vietnam and later a New York Police Department employee and fraud investigator concludes, “I’ve heard it said that without our military dogs, there would be 10,000 additional names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall. I, for one, think that’s an understatement.”

Middle-Eastern War Dogs

In stark contrast to Vietnam, the hot, dusty environments of Iraq and Afghanistan serve up a new set of challenges for military working dogs trained for explosive and drug detection, sentry, therapy and service work.
In an Oct. 7, 2018 feature by Jon Michael Connor, Army Public Affairs on the U.S. Army website, William Cronin, director for the American K9 for Afghanistan and Mali, West Africa, says, “There’s no substitute for the detection of a dog. There’s no machine built yet that can reciprocate what a dog can do.

“When you go into your grandmother’s kitchen, you smell stew. The dog goes in your grandmother’s kitchen, he smells carrots, pepper, tomatoes, and lettuce. I mean he smells all the ingredients.”

Dogs’ sense of smell is roughly 50 times better than ours, meaning they can sniff out IEDs before they detonate and injure or kill U.S. servicemen in the prolonged Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts. Ground patrols are able to uncover only 50 percent of these, but with dogs, the detection rate increases to 80 percent, claims the Defense Department.

Military Dogs Today

Supply and demand for military working dogs is off the charts today.

According to retired Air Force K9 handler, Louis Robinson, a fully trained bomb detection canine is likely worth over $150,000, and considering the lives it may save, you could characterize it as priceless.

To augment the Defense Department’s breeding program at Lackland, the AKC was asked several years ago to assist and then implement a plan for a detection-dog breeding program within the U.S., since government agencies have for decades relied heavily on European stock to meet their growing needs.

Consequently, an AKC Detection Dog Task Force was established to raise the awareness and alert U.S. breeders, citizens and research organizations about the organization’s involvement. Well-attended conferences were held the past two years and another is planned in August in Durham, North Carolina, bringing experts together to determine how to better get U.S. breeders involved in producing sound dogs for explosive-detection and patrol-detection assignments.

A Perspectives report from the 2017 AKC Working Dog Conference notes “today over 80 percent of working/detector dogs in the U.S. are imported from Eastern Europe even though there an estimated 73 million dogs in the United States, of which about 10 million are purebred.

“. . . The primary difference between the domestic supply of dogs and those procured in Europe is that the European bred and trained working lines have a proven history of pedigrees from dogs selected for working traits. These traits are defined by the influence of competitive dog sports and the training requirements needed to participate at regional and national events.”

Federal and local government agencies and private vendors, according to a January 2019 AKC Detection Task Force Q&A draft, seek puppies 10-12 months of age. The Department of Defense conducts evaluations at its Lackland training center and requires the seller to bring the dog there, where it will be left for up to 10 days for assessment.

The task force is working in four ways to help fill the federal government’s need for quality canines.

Scott Thomas, task force consultant, cites those directions:

  • It hosts the aforementioned conferences to create a neutral environment for the vendor, breeders and those purchasing dogs (private companies and federal government) to network and discuss issues.
  • The AKC is actively meeting with government agencies to discuss the needs and the long-term solutions both in Washington, D.C. and at Lackland Air Force Base.
  • The AKC has established a Patriotic Puppy Program to assist breeders in understanding how to raise detection dogs for sale to the government and private vendors. This system supports breeders and trainers with a website packed with current information, social-media updates and will soon be one of the largest databases for researching the genotype and phenotype of effective detection dogs.
  • The task force has a government relations element that has proven highly successful in establishing legislation to ease the pathway for domestic breeders to supply dogs to local, state and federal agencies in need of dogs.

Thomas added, “Domestic breeders are very excited. For our pilot, we initially sought out the two breeds most often in demand for single-purpose detection work – the Labrador Retriever and the German Shorthair Pointer.

“We had significant interest from breeders outside those two and just completed receiving applications from those. It looks like the initial pilot effort will have just over 100 dogs, a number we hope to expand significantly in the near future. I can see this effort being coordinated into a national breeding effort to meet our national security need.”


In 1924, the Revolutionary Military Council of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics approved the use of dogs for military purposes, which included a wide range of tasks such as rescue, delivery of first aid, communication, tracking mines and people, assisting in combat, transporting food, medicine and injured soldiers on sleds, and destruction of enemy targets. For these purposes, a specialized dog training school was founded in the Moscow Oblast. Twelve regional schools were opened soon after, three of which trained anti-tank dogs. [1] [2]

The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army had no dedicated dog trainers. Therefore, they recruited hunter, police, and even circus trainers. Several leading animal scientists were also involved, in order to help organize a wide-scale training program. German Shepherd Dogs were favored for the program for their physical abilities and ease of training, but other breeds were used as well. The idea of using dogs as mobile mines was developed in the 1930s, together with the dog-fitting mine design. In 1935, anti-tank dog units were officially included in the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army. [1] [2]

The original idea was for a dog to carry a bomb strapped to its body, and reach a specific static target. The dog would then release the bomb by pulling with its teeth a self-releasing belt and return to the operator. The bomb could then be detonated either by a timer or remote control, though the latter was too rare and expensive at the time to be used. A group of dogs practiced this for six months, but the reports show that no dogs could master the task. They performed generally well on a single target but became confused after the target or location was changed and often returned to the operator with the bomb unreleased, which in a live situation would have killed both the dog and the operator. [3]

Continual failures brought about a simplification. The bomb was fastened on the dog and detonated upon contact with the target, killing the animal. Whereas in the first program, the dog was trained to locate a specific target, this task was simplified to find any enemy tank. Dogs were trained by being kept hungry and their food was placed under tanks. The tanks were at first left standing still, then they had their engines running, which was further combined with sporadic blank-shot gunfire and other battle-related distractions. This routine aimed to teach the dogs to run under the tanks in battlefield situations. [3]

Each dog was fitted with a 10–12-kilogram (22–26 lb) mine carried in two canvas pouches adjusted individually to each dog. The mine had a safety pin which was removed right before the deployment each mine carried no markings and was not supposed to be disarmed. A wooden lever extended out of a pouch to about 20 centimetres (7.9 in) in height. When the dog dived under the tank, the lever struck the bottom of the tank and detonated the charge. Because the underparts of the chassis were the most vulnerable area of these vehicles, it was hoped the explosion would disable the vehicle. [4] [5]

The use of anti-tank dogs was escalated during 1941 and 1942, when every effort was made by the Red Army to stop the German advance at the Eastern Front of World War II. In that period, the dog training schools were mostly focused on producing anti-tank dogs. About 40,000 dogs were deployed for various tasks in the Red Army. [6]

The first group of anti-tank dogs arrived at the frontline at the end of the summer of 1941 and included 30 dogs and 40 trainers. Their deployment revealed some serious problems. In order to save fuel and ammunition, dogs had been trained on tanks which stood still and did not fire their guns. In the field, the dogs refused to dive under moving tanks. Some persistent dogs ran near the tanks, waiting for them to stop but were shot in the process. Gunfire from the tanks scared away many of the dogs. They would run back to the trenches and often detonated the charge upon jumping in, killing Soviet soldiers. To prevent this, the returning dogs had to be shot, often by their controllers and this made the trainers unwilling to work with new dogs. Some went so far as to say that the army did not stop with sacrificing people to the war and went on to slaughter dogs too those who openly criticized the program were persecuted by "special departments" (military counterintelligence). [3] Out of the first group of 30 dogs, only four managed to detonate their bombs near the German tanks, inflicting an unknown amount of damage. Six exploded upon returning to the Soviet trenches, killing and injuring soldiers. [3] Three dogs were shot by German troops and taken away without attempts by the Soviets to prevent this, which provided examples of the detonation mechanism to the Germans. A captured German officer later reported that they learned of the anti-tank dog design from the dead animals, and considered the program desperate and inefficient. A German propaganda campaign sought to discredit the Red Army, saying that Soviet soldiers refuse to fight and send dogs instead. [3]

Another serious training mistake was revealed later the Soviets used their own diesel engine tanks to train the dogs rather than German tanks which had gasoline engines. [5] As the dogs relied on their acute sense of smell, the dogs sought out familiar Soviet tanks instead of strange-smelling German tanks. [7]

The efficiency of using anti-tank dogs in World War II remains uncertain. There are claims by the Soviet sources that around 300 German tanks were damaged by Soviet anti-tank dogs. [2] This claim was considered propaganda by many Russian historians who believed it was meant to justify the dog training program. [3] There are, however, documented claims of individual successes of the program, with the number of damaged tanks usually being within a dozen. [2] [6] For example, at the front of the 160th Infantry Division near Hlukhiv, six dogs had damaged five German tanks near the airport of Stalingrad, anti-tank dogs destroyed 13 tanks. At the Battle of Kursk, 16 dogs disabled 12 German tanks which had broken through the Soviet lines of defence near Tamarovka, Bykovo. [5] [8]

The German forces knew about the Soviet dogs from 1941 onwards, and so took measures to defend against them. An armored vehicle's top-mounted machine gun proved ineffective due to the relatively small size of the attackers as the dogs were too low to the ground and because of the dogs' speed and the difficulty in spotting them. Consequently, every German soldier received orders to shoot any dog in combat areas. [5] [7]

After 1942, the use of anti-tank dogs by the Red Army rapidly declined, and training schools were redirected to producing the more needed mine-seeking and delivery dogs. However, training of anti-tank dogs continued after World War II, until June 1996. [9]

The Imperial Japanese Army received about 25,000 dogs from their ally Germany and organized several dog training schools in Japan, and one in China at Nanjing. In 1943, U.S. forces considered using armed dogs against fortifications. The aim was for a dog to run into a bunker carrying a bomb, which would then be detonated by a timer. Dogs in this secret program were trained at Fort Belvoir. The dogs, called "demolition wolves", were taught to run to a bunker, enter it, and sit while waiting for a simulated explosion. Each dog carried a bomb strapped to its body in canvas pouches, as with the Russian method. The program was terminated on 17 December 1943 out of safety concerns. During the training, dogs often returned to the senders without entering the bunker or waiting there for supposed period of time which would have caused friendly casualties in a live fire situation. It was feared that in the actual battle, dogs would return much more often, scared by enemy fire. Attempts to continue the program in 1944 and 1945 failed. [10]

In 2005, insurgents attempted to use a bomb-equipped dog during the Iraq War. The dog was detonated without inflicting damage. [11] More often, donkeys were used, as they were more reliable. Donkeys are traditionally equipped with sacks and thus could carry a large explosive charge without looking suspicious. [12]

Airedale Jack

E. H. Richardson&rsquos British War Dog School was seen as a huge success and stories of heroic dogs started to be heard.

One story was of &lsquoAiredale Jack&rsquo who was used to send reinforcements that saved an entire battalion. With all lines of commutation cut, the Sherwood Foresters were trapped by heavy fire and an advancing enemy force. Desperate, the troops attached a message to dog&rsquos collar asking for reinforcements to their location. Jack managed to make it through enemy lines to get the message to headquarters. Reinforcements were then sent to the battalion&rsquos location.

The Sherwood Foresters were saved, but Jack died from his injures getting the vital message to HQ.


One report, from the Dundee Evening Telegraph in 1916, describes the skills: "A watchdog never barks at the most he will use a low growl to indicate the presence or approach of a hostile force.

"More often than not the mere pricking of the ears or the attitude of expectancy is sufficient to put his master on his guard."

A Lt Col Richardson, the man in charge of running the War Dog School of Instruction, was quoted in the the Aberdeen Evening Express in 1918 as saying: "The skill, courage and tenacity of these dogs has been amazing.

"During heavy barrages, when all other communications have been cut, the messenger dogs have made their way, and in many cases have brought messages of vital importance."

Debra Chatfield, historian at, said: "It's amazing, and heart wrenching to think of thousands of families saying goodbye to their pet dogs so that they could serve their country at the front line.

"Throughout human history, the bond between man and dogs has been unbreakable, and the role these animals played during the war was of paramount importance."

Sergeant Stubby

Photo illustration by Lisa Larson-Walker

1. A Dog Has His Day

On July 6, 1921, a curious gathering took place at the State, War, and Navy Building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. The occasion was a ceremony honoring veterans of the 102 nd Infantry of the American Expeditionary Forces’ 26 th “Yankee” Division, who had seen action in France during the Great War. The hall was packed with dozens of members of the 102 nd —field clerks, infantrymen, generals—but one soldier in particular commanded the spotlight. The attention seemed to bother him the New York Times reported that the soldier was “a trifle gun shy, and showed some symptoms of nervous excitement.” When photographers snapped his picture, he flinched.

The ceremony was presided over by Gen. John J. Pershing, commander of the American forces in Europe during the war. Pershing made a short speech, noting the soldier’s “heroism of highest caliber” and “bravery under fire.” The general solemnly lifted an engraved solid gold medal from its case and pinned it to the hero’s uniform. In response, the Times reported, the solider “licked his chops and wagged his diminutive tail.” Sergeant Stubby, a short brindle bull terrier mutt, was officially a decorated hero of World War I. The award was not a formal U.S. military commendation, but it symbolically confirmed Stubby, who’d also earned one wound stripe and three service stripes, as the greatest war dog in the nation’s history. According to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, he was the first dog ever given rank in the U.S. Army. His glory was even hailed in France, which also presented him with a medal.

Millions of Americans heard tales of Stubby’s courage. He had reportedly comforted wounded warriors on bullet-strafed battlefields. It was said he could sniff out poison gas, barking warnings to doughboys in the trenches. He even captured a German soldier. These exploits made the dog nothing less than a celebrity. He met three sitting presidents, traveled the nation to veterans’ commemorations, and performed in vaudeville shows, earning $62.50 for three days of theatrical appearances, more than twice the weekly salary of the average American. For nearly a decade after the war until his death in 1926, Stubby was the most famous animal in the United States.

Courtesy of Division of Armed Forces/Smithsonian National Museum of America History

“Stubby’s history overseas,” a Waterbury, Connecticut, newspaper wrote in 1922, “is the story of almost any average doughboy.” But of course Stubby was not a doughboy, and his renown was anything but average. Despite his postwar stardom, Stubby has faded from memory in the century since the war commenced. But his story is worth revisiting, and not just as a cute, curious footnote. Stubby’s tale offers a glimpse of the American Army as it prepared to fight its first modern war—and later, of a bruised nation as it commemorated a victory obtained at unthinkable human costs.

2. A Mutt Goes to Yale

Stubby’s provenance is unknown. According to several news reports, he first enters the historical record in July 1917 as an ownerless stray. The journey to the theater of war has the quality of legend—a scruffy, peculiarly American brand of myth. Stubby was like a character out of Horatio Alger, or a sentimental one-reel silent movie: an orphan who made his way in the world with perseverance and pluck.

The setting for Stubby’s debut was the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut. Yale University’s football stadium was the site of Camp Yale, where the soldiers of the 102 nd Infantry, part of the New England–based 26 th “Yankee” Division, were doing basic training prior to their deployment.

Sergeant Stubby and J. Robert Conroy, March 1919. Courtesy of Division of Armed Forces/Smithsonian National Museum of America History

On a steamy summer morning, news reports would later recount, Stubby wandered onto the massive field, where the soldiers were doing exercises. He was not an impressive sight: short, barrel-shaped, a bit homely, with brown and white brindled stripes. Stubby lingered around Camp Yale after that first appearance. Ann Bausum, author of Stubby the War Dog: The True Story of World War I’s Bravest Dog, writes that J. Robert Conroy, a 25-old private from New Britain, Connecticut, forged the closest bond with the mutt. The two were soon inseparable.*

In September 1917, a few months after Stubby first embedded with the troops at the Yale Bowl, the 102 nd prepared to ship out. Conroy faced a problem: What to do about the dog he had adopted and named Stubby? Dogs were forbidden in the U.S. military, but Conroy had managed to keep the stray as a pet throughout his three-month training in Connecticut. Getting Stubby to Europe would be a more daunting challenge.

The troops traveled by rail to Newport News, Virginia, a newly designated port of embarkation for soldiers heading to France. Here the 26 th Division was slated to board one of the largest freighters navigating the Atlantic, the SS Minnesota. The New York Times describes how Conroy eluded the ship guards by concealing Stubby in his Army-issue greatcoat. He then spirited the dog down to the hold and hid him in the ship’s coal bin.

At some point during the turbulent Atlantic crossing, Stubby was found out. Here the lore of Stubby, as reported by various newspapers, takes on a suspiciously cutesy cast: The story goes that the dog charmed his way into the good graces of the officers who discovered him by lifting his right paw in a salute. Out of hiding and free to roam the freighter, Stubby proved popular with the crew. A machinist onboard fashioned Stubby his own set of metal “dog tags.” By the time the troops disembarked in the port of Saint-Nazaire on France’s western coast, Stubby was the 102 nd Infantry’s unofficial mascot.

3. Dogs in the Trenches

Photo courtesy Carole Raddato/Flickr Creative Commons

The story of dogs in warfare is an old one, stretching back to antiquity. Persians, Greeks, Assyrians, and Babylonians all used dogs in battle. Dogs were part of Attila the Hun’s forces in his fifth-century European conquests. In the Middle Ages, knights outfitted dogs with canine armor Napoleon used trained dogs as sentinels in the French campaign in Egypt.

Many of the countries involved in World War I had war dog training schools in place prior to the conflict. France, Britain, Belgium, Germany, and Russia all recognized the value of trained dogs on the battlefield. The conventional wisdom favored pedigreed dogs: Jack Russell terriers for chasing rats out of trenches German shepherds, Chiens de Brie, and Alsatian sheep dogs for sentry duty. Airedale terriers were considered good messenger dogs. Siberian huskies, naturally, were relied on for transport.

Dogs were also a key part of the Red Cross’ aid efforts, and every country had its own unit. Red Cross dogs, also called sanitary dogs or Sanitätshunde by the Germans, negotiated battlefields and no-man’s lands to aide wounded men. Saddlebags stocked with water and medical supplies were strapped to their backs. Because they wore the Red Cross symbol, these dogs were, in theory, protected from being shot by the enemy. Often, the dogs simply provided comfort and a warm body to dying men on battlefields.

Many dogs, including Red Cross dogs, performed heroically. In one battle, Prusco, a French dog, located and dragged more than 100 wounded men to safety. In 1915, the French government asked Allan Alexander Allan, a Scotsman living in Alaska, to provide its army with sled dogs. Heavy winter snows in the Vosges Mountains were holding back French supply lines mules and horses couldn’t breach the impasse to move artillery and ammunition. Allan managed to transport, in secret, more than 400 sled dogs from Alaska to Quebec, where he and the dogs boarded a cargo ship bound for France. Once there, the dogs hauled ammunition, aided soldiers in the work of laying communication lines, and helped transport wounded soldiers to field hospitals. “It was enough to make one forget all about the war,” Allan recalled later. “Even when the shells were singing, to see a line half a mile long of dog teams tearing down the mountain to the base depot, every blue devil whooping and yelling and trying to pass the one ahead.”

Germany had a long tradition of military dogs and had the war’s best-trained canine force. In the 1870s, the German military began coordinating with local dog clubs, training and breeding dogs for combat. They established the first military dog school in 1884, and by the start of the Great War, they had almost 7,000 trained dogs. At the peak of the war, Germany’s dog forces numbered more than 30,000: messengers, Sanitätshunde, draught animals, guards.

Among the allies, France had the largest and most diverse dog units. At one point, the U.S. Army borrowed French-trained dogs for sentry duty, but the plan was eventually aborted because the dogs only responded to commands in French. At the start of the war, the United States was one of the few participants in World War I that did not maintain a canine force.

War dogs weren’t the only area in which the U.S. military was wanting. The Army lagged behind its allies in both recruiting and preparedness. “We came into this war without an army … so now must build an entire new organization,” said Gen. Pershing in 1917. Stubby, the foundling mutt, was thus an apt mascot for the U.S. forces: unpedigreed, untrained, an underdog.

4. Stubby in Action

In October 1917, one month after landing in France, the American Expeditionary Forces entered the Western Front. The raw troops of the 26 th Division were brought to Neufchâteau, in the Lorraine region of northeastern France, to train with more experienced French forces. The 26 th would end the war as one of America’s most battle-scarred. They took part in four major offensives—Aisne-Marne, Champagne-Marne, Saint-Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne—and 17 engagements. They saw more fighting than any other American infantry division: 210 days in total. Stubby was there for the duration. The regiment’s leader, Col. John Henry Parker, was a gruff, intimidating man, a veteran of the Spanish-American War and an expert machine gun tactician who eventually received a Silver Star for extraordinary heroism. It was Parker who gave special orders that Stubby remain with the 26 th . The dog, it was said, “was the only member of his regiment that could talk back to [Parker] and get away with it.”

Stubby remained with the 102 nd throughout the training period in Neufchâteau. Initially, he didn’t serve in an official capacity, but the dog was allowed stay with Conroy, even when he went on assignment as a dispatch rider delivering messages to command posts on horseback. By February 1918, the 102 nd was bunkering along the lines of Chemin des Dames, the French-held “ladies path” on the Western Front, nervously anticipating the Germans’ launch of a spring offensive. On St. Patrick’s Day, bells and klaxons, the signal of a poison gas attack, rang out along the hillside in the Marne where Stubby and Conroy were stationed. For a full 24 hours, German gas shells rained down. Somehow, the dog and his master survived. (Perhaps gas masks were to thank—man and dog alike were issued masks, though the New York Times reported that “Stubby’s physiognomy was of such peculiar contour that no mask could afford real satisfaction.”)

Dogs of War: 4 Dog Breeds Used and Militarized Throughout History

Dogs have been used for centuries to help troops engage in military conflicts. These canine companions come in handy for their keen senses and other innate abilities that give soldiers advantages over their enemies. The following four dog breeds have commonly been utilized and militarized as dogs of war throughout much of history.


These robust and agile dogs have been useful in terrorizing enemy forces. Some mastiffs can weigh more than 200 pounds, which can make these dogs more effective when it comes to forcing other soldiers into submission. The ancient Greeks and Romans frequently brought these dogs into battle. During certain points in history, mastiffs were even used to fend off lions and other ferocious wild animals.

Image: By Pleple2000 (Own work) [GFDL] ( or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0

German Shepherd Dogs

Even though German Shepherd Dogs are often known for their friendly temperaments, they can be trained for battle and cause serious bodily harm to enemies. The force of their bites rivals those of pit bulls. German Shepherd Dogs have also been trained by the military to parachute out of airplanes and transport explosives that would later be detonated to destroy enemy tanks. Troops have even relied on German Shepherd Dogs as messenger and rescue dogs.

Image: Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho -

Black Russian Terriers

Developed by the Soviet military immediately following World War II, the Black Russian Terrier was related to several different dog breeds and known for its intimidating appearance. Anyone who is interested in earning a master’s degree in military history can review pictures to see the dog’s thick black coat and sharp teeth. The thick coats of these dogs make it possible for them to withstand cold Russian winters. Many troops value this dog for its loyalty and fearlessness. Black Russian Terriers also have excellent stamina and can help military personnel transport heavy loads for long distances.

By Carlyleshl (Iz Teremka Kennel) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons


These practical dogs originate from Germany and have performed many essential duties for the military. Boxers were used in both World War I and World War II to carry packs, guard troops, and attack rival soldiers. The fact that these dogs can maneuver much easier over unstable landscapes also makes them a great asset in wartime. Boxers have also been used at times to help soldiers hunt for food and sniff out where enemies are hiding.

Image: Creative Commons,

Many military operations have been carried out successfully thanks in large part to dogs. These loyal, obedient, and physically-strong animals can be trained to help with many tasks and relieve some of the burdens that soldiers carry.

Dogs of War: 4 Dog Breeds Used and Militarized Throughout History

Author Bio: Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. Rachelle tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow Rachelle on Twitter and Facebook

Other Articles by Rachelle Wilber:


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