When we think “military dogs,” we typically think of a German Shepherd, or perhaps a Belgian Malinois. It’s true the Shepherd is one of the most widely-used, dedicated, and hardworking military dog (my own Shepherd is supervising this piece, so we won’t neglect the breed!). But let’s give a shout out to other breeds that have given their service, and sometimes their lives, during wartimes. Let’s meet Smoky, Stubby, Kurt, York, Chips, Nemo, Vittles, and more:
1. Yorkshire Terrier: Smoky, a Yorkshire Terrier, pulled necessary wire through small pipes in WWII, proving small dogs have hearts for service too.
2. Bully Breeds: Stubby was a bully breed mix, well representing the bully breeds dedication to man. Stubby warned his WWI unit of poisonous gas, helped capture an enemy spy, found wounded soldiers, and alerted his unit to incoming artillery shells. World War I posters showed bully breeds as proud mascots of devotion and bravery.
3. Doberman: Specifically, Dobermans worked as messengers and sentries for the U.S Marine Corps in the Pacific during WWWII. A memorial statute in Guam, “Always Faithful,” honors the Doberman Pinschers that gave their lives in service. Kurt, depicted on the statute, was the first canine Guam casualty.
4. Mixed breeds: Let’s not neglect mixed breeds, for the most decorated WWII war dog was a mixed breed (German Shepherd-Collie-Siberian Husky) named Chips, assigned to the 3d Military Police Platoon. During the invasion of Sicily, Chips and his handler were held on the beach by an Italian machine-gun team. Chips jumped into the pillbox and attacked the gunners. The four crewmen had to leave the pillbox and surrender to American troops. On the same day, Chips was credited with helping take 10 Italians prisoners. He eventually served in some eight campaigns across Europe.
5. German Shepherd Dog: GSDs have served the military for decades. Soldiers returning from WWI told stories of the remarkably working dogs, developer in Germany. In WWII, both the allied and axis powers used Shepherds for sentry work, guarding, and carrying messages. Nemo, one of many heroic GSDs, served as a sentry in Vietnam, fighting off guerrillas. Despite being wounded and blinded in one eye, Nemo guarded his injured handler until medics could arrive. Today, the Shepherd continues to serve our military. The 341st Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base trains hundreds of GSDs to work alongside our servicemen and women.
6. Boxers: In the world wars, Boxers worked as guards, messengers, and pack-carriers. In WWII’s Berlin airlift, Vittles, outfitted with his own harness and parachute, boosted morale.
7. Rottweiler: Rotties were pulled off farms in Germany to pull carts and perform military duties in both world wars The breed is known for endurance and adaptability, both important war time traits.
8. Airedale: In the world wars, Airedales, found wounded soldiers and (even when injured) had the endurance to deliver important messages.
9. Belgian Malinois: A few years ago the public had hardly heard of the breed, but that changed when a Malinois was announced in the SEAL team that raided Osama bin Laden’s compound. Used extensively in the U.S. today, the Belgian Malinois serves in protection, pursuit, tracking, and bomb sniffing. The U.S. air force currently has its own breeding program for the Malinois.
10. Labradors Retrievers (and Vizslas): The nose knows! Labs and Vizslas, commonly too friendly for sentry work, are used to sniff out explosives.
Hats off to all the above breeds, along with all the breeds (and individual dogs) not named, who gave their service to their country.
Want to honor these amazing dog heroes? Name your dog after one of these heroic dogs>>