War Dog Breeds

Virtually all breeds of dogs have been used at one time or another in military roles. Lt. Colonel Richardson of the British War Dog School started training Airdales as sentry and patrol dogs at the outbreak of World War I in 1914, finding them well adapted to the work.

St. Bernard War Dog with MP and Jeep in Texas, 1942
"Julius Caesar," St. Bernard mascot of the Military Police at Kelly Field, TX in 1942.

Today in WW II: 30 Apr 1940 Two killed on the ground in Clacton-on-Sea by the crash of a German Heinkel aircraft, England's first civilian casualties of the war.  More 
30 Apr 1945 Germans abandon Stalag Luft I -- near Barth, Germany -- as advancing Russian forces near, liberating nearly 9,000 Allied airmen imprisoned there.
30 Apr 1945 American troops enter Munich, Germany, the Bavarian capital, finding the city largely destroyed and undefended.
30 Apr 1945 Adolf Hitler commits suicide in his bunker in Berlin.
30 Apr 1945 Following Hitler's suicide, Adm. Karl Dönitz succeeds him as President of Germany while Joseph Göbbels succeeds as Chancellor.
30 Apr 1945 Soviet flag raised over the Reichstag in Berlin.
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Breeds Used for Military Working Dogs

Early in World War II, as the Quartermaster Corps began training dogs for the Army's K-9 Corps, more than thirty breeds were accepted. But later, with more experience, the list was narrowed to five: German Shepherds, Belgian Sheep Dogs, Doberman Pinschers, Farm Collies (short coat) and Giant Schnauzers. Rejected breeds included Great Danes, difficult to train because of their size, and hunting dogs because animal scents occupied their attention. Alaskan Malamutes and Huskies were still trained for Arctic duty as sled dogs.

Standard Breeds of U.S. MWDs Today

The vast majority of U.S. military working dogs in recent times are German and Dutch shepherds and Belgian Malinois, breeds chosen because they are very aggressive, smart, loyal and athletic. The photo above, left is a German Shepherd MWD at Edwards AFB, CA, 23 January 2004. To the right is a photo of Oscar, a Belgian Malinios MWD, at Camp Al Asad, Iraq, 23 April 2004.

German Shepherd dogs are preferred as the standard breed because of their unique combination of traits. Shepherds are intelligent, dependable, predictable, easily trained, usually moderately aggressive, and can adapt readily to almost any climatic conditions. While many dog breeds exhibit some or most of these traits, the Shepherd more than any other breed, most consistently exhibits all of these traits.

For specialized roles, detector dogs in particular, other breeds are used. Retrievers (Labrador, Golden or Chesapeake Bay) are the preferred breeds for One Odor Detector dogs.

All dogs trained and used by the U.S. military are procured and trained by the 341st Military Working Dog Training Squadron, Lackland AFB, TX.

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