Discover 4 Military Dog Breeds

Written by Marisa Wilson
Updated: October 14, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/Semen Salivanchuk
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In the late 19th century, Germany created military dog-training programs, and during World War I, European forces used dogs to act as messengers, identify wounded soldiers, and transport supplies. The first K-9 corps in the United States was established in World War II and they received official recognition on March 13, 1942, although dogs have assisted soldiers in the U.S. since the American Civil War. Today, the U.S. continues to utilize many military dog breeds for service.

Military working dogs are now an essential component of the armed services in the United States and around the globe. But unlike in the past, these canines are now revered and valued as assets, like soldiers on four legs. The American military utilizes dogs across all branches for tasks such as bomb detection, attacking, tracking, and patrol. 

Military dogs are invaluable because of what they are able to do and accomplish. There have been some incredible tasks dogs have done in the military aside from those mentioned previously. Military dogs can be trained to parachute out of an airplane. Can you imagine? These dogs are loyal and show why they are man’s best friend. You’ll discover some great dog breeds in this list. 

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1. German Shepherds

Animals Used In War: German shepherd with military handler.
German Shepherds are smart, loyal, affectionate dogs that have a strong protective streak. This makes them a popular military dog breed.

iStock.com/Puttachat Kumkrong

German Shepherds were mainly employed as sentry dogs during the early stages of the Vietnam War on Air Force facilities. However, as the conflict intensified, the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army entered a service arrangement to train German Shepherds as scout dogs. The Marines had not employed scout dogs since World War II. In February 1966, two Marine scout dog platoons were sent to Vietnam. 

Since the Vietnam War ended and up to the present day of international terrorism and asymmetric threats, German Shepherd Dogs have been members of the U.S. Military Working Dog program. German Shepherds make up a large portion of the dogs in these teams right now, and they serve several purposes and carry out numerous tasks. 

Navy SEAL Teams and Special Operators now use German Shepherds to make HALO jumps and inserts from vessels. These dogs are still respected soldiers of our armed forces and loyal defenders of our independence. German Shepherd Dogs will probably continue to serve in our armed forces for many years to come. They have distinguished themselves by serving in numerous regions and wars worldwide. 

2. Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois with orange collar and tongue out
The Belgian Malinois is easy to train and valued as a police and military dog breed.

iStock.com/Sansargo

The laborious process of preparing a Belgian Malinois for battle is meant to select out those canines that won’t be able to withstand the stresses of combat. These military “maligators” are attractive for various reasons, but perhaps their independence is the most intriguing. Human troops bring a Belgian Malinois along when they need unfettered fighting strength that they can target and unleash at will. 

These dogs, often known as “fur missiles,” are renowned for their agility, toughness, and willingness to attack. A Malinois can bite down on a perpetrator with 70 pounds of force, making it practically impossible for them to flee. A Malinois may be dropped at a landing site, investigate for safe routes, identify the positions of explosives, and relay this information back to its handler without getting harmed. These dogs are powerful and brilliant in the face of chaos. 

They go through intense training and are an essential member of their unit. A Belgian Malinois makes a devoted, wise, and enduring pet. They are the kind of dog that will accompany you to the restroom but also enjoys playing and running. You may strengthen your relationship with them by involving kids in tasks, and requiring them to use their minds and solve issues. Mals demand a lot of attention but can develop exceptionally strong attachments, like the comparable German Shepherd.

3. Dutch Shepherd

Dutch Shepherd playing with a ball
The Dutch shepherd, a farm dog developed to protect livestock, is easier to train than the German shepherd.

Rita_Kochmarjova/Shutterstock.com

Of course, the Dutch Shepherd was initially bred to be a working pup for shepherds. They were employed on farms throughout rural areas of the Netherlands for several different jobs. They could herd livestock like sheep, pull carts, protect gardens from birds, and serve as watchdogs.

Although the breeds have varied a little more in the last 100 years and now have their individual breed standards, there was initially not much to distinguish Dutch Shepherds from German Shepherds or Belgian Shepherds except for coat color.

Modern times have seen an increase in the rarity of the Dutch Shepherd. Many modern farming methods rendered these dogs obsolete for herding and other farm duties, and breeding in the Netherlands ceased during World War II. Numerous dogs starved to death, and the German military also took some of the highly trainable canines for use in the armed services. After the war, breeders kept trying to breed Dutch Shepherds while incorporating canines of unidentified origins.

Despite the breed’s continued rarity, Dutch Shepherds are utilized as guide dogs, search and rescue dogs, and law enforcement dogs. They still possess their herding skills from their time on farms and participate in dog sports.

4. Doberman

doberman
The Doberman Pinscher has a bite force of 245psi.

JELIZAVETA KARAKAJA/Shutterstock.com

The use of this breed throughout wartime is one of the more intriguing parts of the Doberman’s history. This should not surprise us, as it is a breed noted for its intelligence, tenacity, and loyalty. Though Dobermans were also employed in war, people typically associate military service dogs with German Shepherds. Dobermans are renowned for their ability to protect and guard, which makes them an excellent military dog breed. They were also considered beneficial for military duty due to their intelligence and trainability. Doberman pinschers helped soldiers in both World Wars. 

These combat canines carried out a variety of tasks. They received special training to serve as guard dogs, couriers, sentries, and mine detectors, in addition to finding and rescuing wounded men. During both World Wars, Dobermans were responsible for watching over campgrounds when they weren’t on the battlefield. These dogs earned the distinction of being the finest military canines in American history thanks to their bravery and service in the military. During the Second World War, the U.S. Marine Corps operated a K-9 division called the “Devil Dogs.” 

They were trained as message-delivery canines and provided ammo and essential medical care. However, they were also crucial for spotting enemies. For instance, history tells us that these dogs discovered various ambushes during both World Wars, ultimately saving countless lives. These canines were responsible for waking up the soldiers when they first noticed the enemy approaching while resting in their camps.

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Guard dogs in equipment with the Police.
Military working dogs are taught a variety of tasks, such as an attacking, tracking, bomb detection, and patrol.
iStock.com/Semen Salivanchuk
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About the Author

Creepy-crawly creatures enthrall Marisa. Aside from raising caterpillars, she has a collection of spiders as pets. The brown recluse is her favorite spider of all time. They're just misunderstood. You don't have to worry about squishing the creatures as her catching, and relocating abilities can safely move stray centipedes or snakes to a new location that's not your living room.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How long do dogs stay in the military?

Dogs typically retire between the ages of 10 and 12 years, while some are honorably discharged due to physical harm, emotional suffering brought on by the death of their human companion, or the emergence of noise anxieties.

What rank in the military is a dog?

According to tradition, every working dog in the military is a non-commissioned officer. Working canines in the military always rank one rank higher than their handlers. Military canines were initially awarded NCO status as a standard to stop handlers from mistreating or abusing their dogs.

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Sources
  1. Dakota 283, Available here: https://dakota283.com/3-common-us-military-dog-breeds/
  2. Pets by Wide Open Media, Available here: https://www.wideopenpets.com/10-military-dog-breeds/
  3. The Scotsman Publications, Available here: https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/family-and-parenting/war-dogs-10-breeds-of-lovable-dog-that-make-the-best-military-and-service-dogs-including-the-loyal-labrador-3550770