As Veteran’s Day approaches, this article will give an overview of the important contributions made by military service dogs. Their keen sense of smell, hearing, and eyesight have made them particularly useful, not to mention their devotion and innate ability to be a team member and take commands.
Used by the ancients in warfare, dogs have served various purposes that have progressively changed throughout history. In the United States, they were first used during the Seminole Wars. Over the centuries, military service dogs took on various roles and duties. Although used in the past for a myriad of dangerous activities, such as drawing enemy fire or catching rats, modern day service dogs take on humane tasks that allows them to put their unique skills to their ultimate use.
Military Working Dogs
The Quartermaster Corps started to train dogs for the Army’s K-9 Corps in the early part of World War II. After accepting more than thirty breeds, they narrowed their list to the five most effective for
their purposes. These breeds include the Giant Schnauzers, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, Belgian Sheep dogs, and Farm Collies (short coat). Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes are still trained as sled dogs for Arctic duty.
Modern Day Duties
Modern day military dogs are used in quite a few roles, including patrol or scout, sentry, mine, messenger, tunnel, explosives detection, and casualty.
- Ten thousand, four hundred and twenty-five dogs were trained in WWII. Approximately 9,300 of these dogs were placed on sentry duty. Hundreds of military organizations including harbor defenses, coastal fortifications, ammunition dumps, arsenals, depots, industrial plants, and depots benefited from sentry dogs.
- Sentry dogs work on a short leash and are taught to provide warnings
through alerting, growling, or barking. They are particularly useful for dark conditions when an attack from the rear or from cover is likely. These dogs are trained to warn their handlers of the presence or approach of strange individuals. They are also used to guard airports, war plants, supply dumps, and other vital military installations. These dogs are incredibly valuable in any location where security must be maintained against intruders.
Military service dogs provide an amazing and necessary service to our country and those who have served our country — our veterans. The next article will focus on other duties military service dogs provide — patrol or scout, mine, messenger, casualty, tunnel, and explosives detection. GOD BLESS AMERICA!!
(C) 2016 Karen Van Den Heuvel Fischer
Newton, Tom. “K-9 History: The Dogs of War!”. Hahn’s 50th AP K-9.
“Dogs of War in European Conflict; Egyptians and Romans Employed Them in Early Warfare — Battle Dogs in 4000 B.C”. New York Times. February 21, 1915. p. S3.
http://www.uswardogs.org/war-dog-history/types-war-dogs/, US War Dog Association | National Headquarters, Types of War Dogs