A brief history of military working dogs and their role in warfare

Dogs have been around in the Military for a long time. Humans aren’t always good at all types of tasks and activities, and have engaged dogs to do the work that they can’t. Dogs bring certain qualities due to their genetics.

Dogs in the military goes back to the time of the Pharaohs and the Ephesians. Even during those times, humans had the sense to rely on lesser creatures that had different qualities. At the time, the famed Ephesian Hounds were engaged in war, along with horsemen. Such hounds were gigantic in size and weren’t at risk of being trampled.

Later, post the birth of Christ, dogs were used in warfare by the Egyptians, Romans, Persians and so on. In fact, there is a famous story of a Roman emperor who utilized dogs using guerilla tactics. As the enemies were hiding within caves in unreachable terrains, traditional armies and horses couldn’t be used without determining the exact location. Hounds were able to sniff our enemy positions.

During the Spanish inquisitions, a different breed of dog was used in warfare – the Mastiff. The Mastiff is one of the most formidable species of dogs. Within the family, you have such breeds as terriers, mountain dogs and Pitbull, all of which are great in this application. From then on, terriers became standard part of militaries.

statue - A brief history of military working dogs and their role in warfare

It was during the two world wars that the use of dogs really became prominent. Till then, they were only sporadically used. During the first world war, dogs were utilized as mascots and for surveillance missions. There is the famous story of Stubby, who was influential in the 102nd infantry to sniff out artillery, gas and other attacks, and give the Americans a crucial advantage.

Naturally, there are tragic stories and those of human cruelty. The Soviet Union has always been known as a ruthless nation, with an army that would go to any means to achieve a mission. True to their nature, the Soviets employed dogs against Nazi Germany during the second world war. Mines were strapped to dog collars and dogs would approach enemy territory, where the mines would explore killing enemy soldiers and the dogs themselves in the process.

Even if you look at the 60s during the Vietnam War, both the Americans and Australians used dogs to sniff out the Viet Kong soldiers. Fast forward to the American invasion of Iraq and the war against Taliban in Afghanistan, and you’ll find out that dogs were employed there too for bomb sniffs.

We should appreciate the rich history and the roles our canine heroes have played in warfare. Humans may be excused for using tactics that brutally harmed the dogs, such as those of the Soviets, as a way to counteract the might of Nazi Germany. No one likes such tactics, but at the time you had to take any possible measure. We salute those that died for the good cause.

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