What do military dogs do?

Dogs have long played a role in the military. In ancient times, dogs played various roles for the Alans, Baganda, Britons, Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, Sarmatians, Slavs and Romans.

Today, dogs are part of many Armed Forces such as Australia, Canada, USA and Great Britain. But in this article, we will focus on US military dogs. “What do military dogs do?” Read to the end to answer the question. and learn all about these amazing animals.

What do US military dogs do?

military working dogs

Currently, there are ~1600 dogs in the army. Their missions span across land, air and sea!

1. Special Duties of Military Dogs

Military dogs are trained for special tasks. They can perform patrol, search and rescue, detection, tracking and attack.

Generally, military dogs work with their human partners to neutralize threats in operations.

2. Types of military dogs

These dogs bark or bark to warn troops of imminent danger. They are especially useful when visibility is limited, such as at night. Guard dogs are commonly found as guards at airports, supply posts, and major storage facilities.

These dogs silently detect ambushes and snipers. They can get away from their handlers and wander off the bounce, so intelligence and a calm disposition are two must-have qualities. Scout or patrol dogs will alert their handlers by wagging their ears or taking a stiff stance.

These dogs are also called search and rescue dogs. They are trained to sniff out the wounded. They can reach places that troops cannot reach. They will, for example, find the location of the wounded under the rubble.

These dogs sniff out explosives. In other words, they detect bombs. They are often seen at checkpoints and traffic stops or checkpoints. Unlike other types of military dogs, they stay on leashes and stay close to their owners when performing tasks.

These dogs are trained to attack on command. For example, when they caught a suspect, they bit the suspect.

A soldier carrying an attack dog:


In addition to military dogs trained for security work, there are service dogs, therapy dogs, and dogs that serve as mascots. These dogs support the troops in other ways as well.

They perform a variety of specialized tasks, such as opening doors and detecting seizures, in support of the DoD community. These dogs are trained to work long distances. Among their skills, service dogs can understand hand signals and radio commands.

They provide comfort and love to people in clinical settings.

They serve as emblems for a service branch or several service units and serve ceremonial purposes. For example, the official mascot of the Marine Corps is an English bulldog named Chesty. Marines in the Corps also have bulldogs as their mascots.

Some four-legged soldiers work exclusively for the Army.

  • Mine detection dogs: These Army dogs search for buried artillery and mines.
  • Drug detector dogs: These dogs determine whether there are drugs around. They are trained to sniff out any and alert their handlers.
  • Military police dogs: As the name suggests, military police dogs are service dogs for military police, the uniformed law enforcement branch of the United States Army. These dogs help police and law enforcement officers find evidence at crime scenes, protect people, catch fleeing criminals, and more. helps in tasks such as
  • K9 Corps Dogs: These military K9 dogs are trained to detect more than 19,000 different explosive scents. They have 13 weeks of specialized training to adapt to the job and often assist other law enforcement agencies.

Multipurpose dogs

There are also dogs that work only for Special Forces. They are called “multi-purpose dogs”. These dogs serve with the Army Guards and the Navy. They can participate in amphibious operations and jump from helicopters or airplanes!

This is another type of dog that serves the army. However, unlike others, military contract dogs are not owned by the DoD. They are simply hired by the military from foreign companies to do work for them. As such, they do not have the same benefits as service dogs, such as access to health care.

3. History of Military Dogs (USA)

Dogs in the fight

World War I

The US military unofficially enlisted the help of dogs in World War I, but it wasn’t until March 13, 1942 that dogs were officially recognized. That year, a private organization called Dogs for Defense was created to recruit dogs from the public for the US military’s Combat Dog Program.

The Korean War

Five years after World War I, the Korean War increased the need for military working dogs. They were briefly deployed to fight night patrols and did a fine job of penetrating enemy lines, ambushing snipers and sniffing out enemy positions.

The Vietnam War

It was estimated that between 4,000 and 9,000 military dog ​​handlers participated in the Vietnam War. Dogs conduct reconnaissance, patrol, detect mines and bobby traps, and more. They were so good at their job that the Viet Cong offered a $40,000 reward for their capture!

Middle East Wars

Military working dogs continue to serve in the military in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are trained to detect drugs and explosives. In addition, they were engaged in guarding, treatment and service work. According to America’s K9 Director (Afghanistan and Mali, West Africa):

military service dogs

4. Fun Facts About Military Dogs

Only 15 percent of military working dogs are bred and raised in the United States by the 341st Training Squadron. The remaining 85 percent are actually dogs from specialized breeders abroad, especially in the Netherlands and Germany.

It costs from 20,000 to 40,000 dollars to breed a dog. However, training to become an “elite” military working dog can cost upwards of $150,000.

Training is intensive and selective. As with military recruits, not all dogs are trained. In fact, only about 50 percent of the dogs in the MWD program are “registered.”

5. Wall of Fame: Legendary Military Dogs


Sallie was the uniform mascot of the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry. He died of a gunshot wound on the front line two months before the end of the war. He has stood by the unit since he was young. Today, there is a statue in his honor at Gettysburg National Military Park.


Stubby was a stray smuggled into Europe by a soldier of the 102nd Infantry Regiment in World War I. He had learned to salute with his right paw. He also warned soldiers about gas attacks and captured a German spy. During his entire career, he participated in a total of 17 fights. Stubby is the first dog to receive the rank of Sergeant!


Gabe served in Iraq, where he sniffed out ammunition, explosives and other weapons. His record is 170 combat patrols and 26 finds.

Gabe was named “2012 Hero Dog of the Year” by the American Humane Organization and donated his $15,000 prize to the American Fighting Dog Association!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

army dogs

How are military dogs trained?

Like puppies, these four-legged soldiers undergo intensive training at the base. They practice biting and basic obedience before moving on to learning to recognize commands and detect scents. They will be exposed to different environments and situations and taught how to respond to them.

At 1 year of age, these dogs are evaluated for the Military Working Dog Training Program. After they pass the Posting Test, they graduate and go into Regular military service. The program takes place in San Antonio and lasts for 120 days. It is operated by the 341st Training Squadron.

For more insight, talk to Ben, an Air Force dog based at Travis Air Force Base in California, about a day in the life!

What does the owner of the military do?

Just like their dogs, owners of military dogs train. They are commonly called military dog ​​handlers. They are trained to properly care for and work with military dogs. Military dog ​​handlers must be prepared for both combat missions and police functions.

To take this role you must complete the following:

  1. Basic Training lasting up to 10 weeks
  2. Military Police School carrying 19 weeks
  3. Another 17 weeks of Dog Groomer Training.

It is also necessary to undergo re-attestation for the position from time to time.

For more information, see How to Become a Military Working Dog Groomer. you can find in our article.

Do military dogs have a rank?

Yes. There are military dog ​​ranks. Every dog ​​working in the military is a non-commissioned officer. In addition, they are always one rank above their handlers. The non-commissioned officer status is to prevent handlers from mistreating or abusing their dogs.

What are the breeds of military dogs?

Military dog ​​breeds are different. The German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever and Belgian Malinois are the most common. German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers are commonly used in the Army, while the Belgian Malinois is popular in the Navy.

Meet Lucca, a half German Shepherd military dog:


Lucca is now medically retired, but he served a full six years. During his career, Lucca led nearly 400 patrols and discovered up to 40 improvised explosive devices.

In 2016, Lucca’s service was recognized and she received the Dick’s Medal for Animal Courage. Fun fact: He is the first military dog ​​to be awarded this medal!

Are military dogs paid?

Military dogs are not paid. But they can win awards from non-profit animal organizations and animal welfare groups.

What are military dogs called?

In the past, dogs used for military purposes were called military fighting dogs. Today they are called military working dogs or military service dogs.

The result

What do military dogs do? As you read, they can be tasked with patrol, search and rescue, detection, tracking and attack. There are different types of military dogs based on their main work. Some dogs work exclusively for the Army, while others are part of the Special Forces. There are dogs that work in the military police, and there are dogs hired from outside the army. Regardless of their type, these four-legged soldiers have done and will continue to do a lot for the country.

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