Everyone knows the saying: “Dogs are man’s best friend.” Dogs are incredible creatures with many incredible qualities. They are companions of people with physical and mental disabilities. They love unconditionally, they don’t ask questions, they don’t judge and they don’t hold grudges.
But have you ever thought deeply about what military dogs do? What are some of their specific roles? All branches of our military train dogs for military purposes. So, pull up a chair and take a look at the unique positions military dogs hold.
History of the military dog
First, let’s look at a little history of the military dog. In the United States, dogs were trained for specific tasks during World War II, but some dogs were used as mascots as early as World War I. Stubby, the military dog, is best known for his role in this period. Stubby first snuck aboard a ship when he was employed by Private J. Robert Conway of the 102nd Infantry Regiment of the 26th Infantry Division (US), paving the way for future canine war heroes.
Stubby, also known as “Sergeant Stubby”, evolved from a mascot to locate the wounded and warn troops of enemy forces. He even captured a German soldier and held him by the trousers until American troops could reach him.
The Coast Guard, Navy, and Army employed approximately 20,000 dogs during World War II and trained them for various tasks. These tasks included discreetly transmitting messages, rescuing downed pilots, and guarding locations and supplies.
Training dogs for military purposes did not begin in the United States, and the date of origin may be surprising. According to writings about the battle in the Iron Age kingdom of Lydia in 600 BC, dogs were present. Over time, their intelligence and loyalty have proven effective in the military and in war.
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The Breeds Used For War
Not all dog breeds are suitable for this type of work. A Chihuahua, for example, is simply not old enough to perform certain tasks. The breeds mainly used in the military today are the German Shepherd, the Belgian Malinois, and the Retriever for their loyalty, obedience, affectionate personality, and strong bite. They must also be healthy, strong, and have no physical limitations. Let’s now look at the different roles.
These dogs are trained to warn troops of imminent danger by growling or barking. This is useful at night when visibility is poor. Additionally, they guard airfields, supply posts, and any other important facilities or areas of the camp. They were also used by the Coast Guard to detect enemy submarines.
Scout/ search patrol
These dogs are trained as guard dogs; only that silence is fundamental in this role. These dogs are trained to silently detect ambushes and snipers. Not all dogs are suitable for this extremely important role: they must have a calm nature and the intelligence necessary to carry out this task. They are off-leash and away from their handlers, usually far ahead of the lines. They warn the handlers by stiffening their posture or simply listening.
These dogs are also known as search and rescue dogs. They are able to reach and enter places inaccessible to humans and track down injured people. An excellent example is the search and rescue operation after the attack on the United States on September 11, 2001, where rescue dogs were able to locate injured people who were trapped under rubble and who would otherwise have died if had not been found.
These dogs are trained to attack on command. For example, if they catch a suspect, they bite him and hold him down.
A soldier carrying an attack dog:
In addition to military dogs trained for security tasks, there are also guide dogs, therapy dogs, and dogs that act as mascots. These dogs support the troops in other ways.
They perform a variety of specialized tasks, such as opening doors and detecting seizures, to support the Department of Defense community. These dogs are trained to work long distances without a leash. Among other things, guide dogs are able to understand hand signals and radio commands.
They provide comfort and affection to people in clinical settings.
They serve as an emblem for a department or several service units and fulfill ceremonial purposes. For example, the official mascot of the Marine Corps is an English bulldog named Chesty. Other Marine units in the Corps also have bulldogs as mascots.
Some four-legged soldiers work exclusively for the army.
- Mine Detection Dogs: These army dogs search for artillery and buried mines without a leash.
- Drug detection dogs: These dogs detect whether there are drugs nearby. They are trained to sniff them out and alert their handlers.
- Military Police Dogs: As the name suggests, military police dogs are dogs that serve in the military police, the uniformed law enforcement branch of the U.S. military. These dogs assist police and law enforcement agencies in tasks such as finding evidence at crime scenes, protecting people, tracking down fleeing criminals, etc.
- K9 Corps Dogs: These military K9 dogs are trained to detect over 19,000 different explosive smells. They undergo 13 weeks of specialized training to qualify for this role and often assist other law enforcement agencies.
Special forces dogs
There are also dogs that work exclusively for special forces. They are called “multi-purpose dogs.” These dogs serve alongside Army Rangers and Navy SEALs. You can take part in amphibious operations and jump out of helicopters or airplanes!
Military contract dogs
This is another type of dog that is in service with the military. However, unlike the other dogs, the contract dogs do not belong to the Ministry of Defense. They are simply hired by the military from outside companies to work for them. Therefore, they do not have the same benefits as dogs owned by the military, such as: B. Access to medical care.
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Explosive Detection Dogs (EDD)
These dogs work primarily with military police to detect bombs, usually at checkpoints, traffic controls, or inspections. During this task, they remain close to their handler and leash.
Specialized Assistance Dogs (SSD)
This role is similar to that of the explosives detection dog; except that these dogs work off-leash over long distances to detect bombs and explosives. They are trained to know hand signals or learn commands from a radio attached to their back.
Mine Detection Dog (MDD)
These dogs work exclusively for the army. They are trained to search for buried mines and artillery without a leash.
Narcotics Detection Dogs (NDD)
As the name suggests, these dogs are specially trained to detect drugs. This way the handler knows what the dog has found.
frequently asked Questions
Are military dogs aggressive?
In order for dogs to be used for military service, they must have a certain level of aggressiveness and an extreme ability to concentrate. They need a keen sense of smell and a willingness to work for rewards. However, they are not aggressive towards their handlers.
Do military dogs have a rank?
Yes, they have! And a higher rank than their leader. The military introduced this tradition for a reason. Military dogs are considered noncommissioned officers, or NCOs. They have a higher rank than their handlers in order to maintain order during operations or training. As a senior officer, any mistreatment of the dog will result in severe disciplinary action for the handler. Tradition ensures that the dogs are well cared for while on duty. However, their handlers have the utmost respect for these dogs and consider them companions and friends.
What happens to military dogs when they retire?
After their service ends, many become eligible for adoption. However, some military dogs are not suitable for adoption due to their intensive training. If a retired military dog is not suitable for adoption, it will remain with its handler or other military personnel who understand its special needs. Joint Base San Antonio handles all adoptions and you can contact them directly if you are interested.
How many dogs are in the military today?
There are approximately 2,500 dogs in the military today. Not only do they protect our troops, but they also help the troops in everyday combat by boosting morale and just being friends.
Which dog is used in the military?
The German Shepherd is widely recognized as the preferred military and police dog breed. This versatile, energetic, and rarely tiring breed is very intelligent and easy to train, often learning many commands quickly, which is crucial in this type of work.
How are military dogs treated?
Military dogs are so important that they sometimes hold a rank of their own and are ranked one rank higher than their handlers. In general, military dogs are treated like regular US soldiers.
Are military dogs strong?
Military Dog Breeds – Military dogs, typically German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds, and Belgian Malinois, are chosen because they can be aggressive, strong, intelligent, loyal, and athletic and have worked alongside humans for centuries.
War dogs: not just a part of military equipment
Although military dogs have proven useful in combat, they are also soldiers respected by all who have had the honor of serving alongside them. More than fifteen monuments across the United States are dedicated to the memory of these intelligent and loyal dogs, considered true members of the military. Military dogs saved 15,000 lives during World War II and 10,000 during the Vietnam War – it is unknown how many lives have been saved by war dogs throughout history.
Final thoughts: What Do Military Dogs Do
Every dog owner knows what fantastic companions they are to us humans; now you know what an important role they play in the army. They have instincts and skills, and the army is the perfect place to bring those instincts and skills into play. An unknown author wrote this poem about the military dog, and it couldn’t be more appropriate. To all the military dogs out there: we salute you.