Why War Dogs?

Dogs have been used as guards, sentries and similar duties for so long that it is almost unnecessary to explain their military role. Dogs are intelligent and loyal. They respond well to training and can be relied upon to come through in difficult situations. A bond forms between the working dog and his handler that will survive even the most difficult and tragic wartime circumstances. In this way, a soldier and his dog will fight for each other as buddies in exactly the same way as human fire team comrades who trained together.

Military Police dog training in Virginia during World War II.  The MP handler works with the dog to apprehend a mock intruder
Military Police dog training in Virginia during World War II. The MP handler works with the dog to apprehend a mock intruder.

Today in WW II: 18 Sep 1939 Soviet troops link up with German troops at Brest Litovsk and Vilna, dividing Poland.  More 
18 Sep 1943 US Army, Marine, and New Zealand troops land on Vella Lavella, fifteen miles northwest of Kolombangara, between New Georgia and Bougainville, Central Solomons.
Visit the Olive-Drab.com World War II Timeline for day-by-day events 1939-1945! See also WW2 Books.

Why War Dogs?

In addition to all the fine qualities that dogs have as team members, dogs can do even more. They have visual and olfactory sensory abilities that are literally superhuman, can go where a soldier cannot, and can often subdue or intimidate a foe more quickly with non-lethal force. Because of these traits, they have been successfully trained for many military duties and roles by modern armies for a century.

K-9 Unit, Hampton Roads Military Police, World War II
K-9 Unit, Hampton Roads Military Police, World War II.

War Dogs: Sense of Smell

Among the dog's abilities that far exceed a man is his sense of smell. Dogs are reported to have ten to twenty times the number of receptors in their nose, compared to a human, and the olfactory part of their brain (devoted to smell) is much larger. This gives them the ability to detect very faint odors and to discriminate between very slight differences in chemical composition.

This literally superhuman ability makes dogs ideal for tasks such as tracking, detection of explosives or narcotics, casualty location, and search and rescue. When there is little or no wind, a dog can detect intruders up to 200 meters away using its senses of smell, hearing, and sight. When placed to take advantage of odors carried on the wind the range is extended, to perhaps as much as 1000 meters. In unfavorable wind conditions, a dog can still detect by sound and sight. Of course, a dog's capabilities are reduced by smoke, dust, heavy vegetation, and similar confusing factors.

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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