WWII Defense Dogs

Defense dogs during World War II helped greatly in the war effort. They were officially accepted in the US and canine units sprang up in abundance. As people made sacrifices for the war effort, they were also asked to donate their dogs to serve. At first they accepted any dogs they could get, but after a while, they whittled it down to seven breeds:

  • German Shepherds. They were the most in demand because of their extraordinary bravery and ease to train. They were used for scouting and watch-guarding.
  • Doberman Pinscher. Second in demand among defense dogs during World War II, Pinschers were high energy and used for their ability to track a scent.
  • Collie. Collies are very smart and have stamina. They were used as messenger dogs.
  • Belgian Sheep Dog. Loyal and also used as messengers.
  • Eskimo. These dogs have super strength, with the ability to carry twice their weight. They were used as packing dogs and wire laying dogs.
  • Alaskan Malamute. Also used as packing and wire laying dogs.
  • Siberian Husky. Yet another packing and wire laying dog.

As these pups served loyally and bravely, they were heavily trained and had a hard time adapting to normal pet life when they were relieved of duty. Many dogs sustained injuries that left them with cataracts, arthritis, and nervous spasms.

Dogs that went through the war physically unscathed were mentally and emotionally disturbed. The military attempted to debrief defense dogs during World War II to acclimate them to pet life and retrain them to be loving companions but were generally unsuccessful. Many were euthanized shortly after their service by the US government.

Modern Military Working Dogs

Modern military dogs search for bombs and drugs, attack runaway suspects, and stand guard at US military bases. They constantly protect troops and warn them of fatal weapons. They are also used as an intimidation factor when interrogating prisoners.

Once dogs are trained, they are given to a handler. The handler and dog stay together for about a year and then the dog goes onto a different handler. While the most in-demand dog during the world wars was the German Shepard, smaller dogs with a keener sense of smell are needed.

Once these dogs have served, they are adopted by caring families. There is even a bill in Congress requesting that military work dogs have government-funded health care for their entire lives.