10 Military Dog Breeds That Fight Alongside Us

Posted by Christy Caplan
Belgian Malnois

When we think about dogs that work in the military, we think about dogs like the German Shepherd Dog (GSD). The GSD is just one of ten popular breeds that serve alongside our military.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), during wartime, dogs have been used as messenger dogs, patrol dogs, guard dogs, mine dogs, Red Cross dogs or as draught dogs for the transportation of weapons, ammunition, food, and medical supplies.

Which dog breeds are most often used in the military? There are many usual suspects, but there is one breed that was a surprise when we started our research.

1. German Shepherd Dog

German Shepherd

German Shepherd Dogs were known as WWI Rescue Dogs.

In the First World War, Red Cross dogs were used to find wounded soldiers, bring back evidence of them and lead rescuers to them. An assortment of breeds were used, including German ShepherdsAiredale TerriersBoxersBulldogs, sheepdogs, and various retrievers.

2. Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malnois

This dog breed was on the mission that killed Osama bin laden.

For deployment in the Middle East, the Belgian Malinois is the military dog of choice. This breed is more heat resistant than the German Shepherd, and more nimble and responsive. Its light and compact build makes it ideal for tandem parachute jumps as well. 

3. Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier

According to Dogster, a Yorkie was a renowned hero in WWII. 'Smokey' attributed with many feats of bravery. He bravely pulled critical wire through narrow pipes, sparing the soldiers a dangerous three-day digging task. Smokey's companionship was valued as well. 

4. Huskies

Siberian Husky

Sled dogs also played a large role in past wars. VetStreet tells us that the U.S. needed a concerted war dog effort with the approach of World War II.

"When war broke out in 1939, Lemish writes, the only American military dogs were sled dogs that were used to locate crashed pilots in Greenland. Some of the dogs were from Admiral Byrd's polar expedition and included Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, American Eskimo Dogs and Chinooks."

5. Alaskan Malamutes

The U.S. military used Malamutes during WWII to pull a sled in snow-covered areas as well as search and rescue dogs, but their attempts to make malamutes guard dogs failed because they liked people too much to attack them.

6. Giant Schnauzer

Some countries have chosen to breed their own military dogs. In the 1940s, the Soviets began a breeding program to develop the ideal military dog. They imported several breeds, mostly German, into their Red Star kennels. A Giant Schnauzer became the core of the program.  

7. Boxer

Boxer

PetGuide explains that boxers during WWI held a wide variety of roles including messenger dog, scout, and patrol dog. They were one of the most versatile service dog breeds of the era and continue to be trained for military service to this day. 

8. Rottweiler

Female Rottweiler

'Rotties' have been used in both police and military forces since WWI. They are smart, loyal, and have an incredibly strong bite. In World War I, they were used to keep guard during the night and bark at any sign of enemy forces. They are also rumored to be used in intimidation and interrogation tactics. 

9. Airedale Terrier

The Red Cross used Airedales as rescue dogs during the war. 

"During World War I, the British military employed Airedale Terriers as sentries and couriers. Airedales carried messages between commanding officers and troops in the trenches. They also stood watch on the front lines and warned the troops when the enemy was approaching. ."

10. Doberman Pinscher

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Dobermans are known as patrol dogs when referenced as military dogs.

According to VetStreet, the German Shepherd Dog and Doberman Pinscher soon dominated as the first choices for U.S. patrol dogs. The Marines favored the Doberman because of its trainability, alertness, bravery and short coat -- and because the Doberman Pinscher Club of America gave them their first dogs. 

Other breeds that served include the Labrador Retriever, Dutch Shepherds, Pit Bull, Bloodhounds, and the Mastiff. These breeds were used for patrolling, detection dogs, and scout dogs.

Do you have a fave military dog from the above list? Did we miss any of the most popular dog breeds? Please let us know in the comments below! 

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10 Military Dog Breeds That Fight Alongside Us