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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: 19 Apr 1941 British troops sent to Iraq.  More 
19 Apr 1943 On the first day of Passover, 2000 German troops marched into the Warsaw Ghetto to round up remaining Jews but were attacked and routed by the residents.
19 Apr 1944 Japanese launch Operation ICHIGO, the first Japanese ground offensive in China since December 1941.
Visit the Olive-Drab.com World War II Timeline for day-by-day events 1939-1945! See also WW2 Books.

Breeds Used for Military Working Dogs

MWD Edwards AFB, 2004

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

Malinois War Dog in Iraq, 2004

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.

Find More Information on the Internet

There are many fine websites that have additional information on this topic, too many to list here and too many to keep up with as they come and go. Use this Google web search form to get an up to date report of what's out there.

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