Dogs have served with U.S. soldiers for over 100 years but weren’t officially inducted into the U.S. army until 1942. Many breeds have served in the United States Military as well as in the search and rescue efforts following the tragic events of 9/11. Purebred dogs are frequently employed due to their predictability surrounding intelligence, ease of training and athleticism. Today, dogs are an integral part of the war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan with nearly 3,000 active-duty dogs being deployed in 2010.
While there are numerous breeds used by the U.S. Military, some of the most popular include:
Airedale Terrier — The undisputed “King of Terriers,” the Airedale Terrier is the largest and hardiest of the terriers. They have a sweet disposition, but training is a must for these quick learners who can get bored easily. Airedale Terriers have been used in several wars as messengers because of their ability to fearlessly deliver information even after becoming injured.
Belgian Malinois—The Belgian Malinois is a confident breed that loves its family and is naturally protective of its owners without being overly aggressive. This breed is intelligent and happiest with regular activity and a job to do, excelling as a police and military working dog. In fact, when properly outfitted with flotation vests, this breed and others serving in the military can make short jumps from helicopters into the water.
Doberman Pinscher — Known to be energetic, affectionate, obedient and loyal, the Doberman Pinscher has proved itself as friend and guardian. The breed is in high demand as a police and military dog due to its intelligence and ability to absorb and retain training. During the 1940’s 25 Marine War Dogs mostly Doberman Pinschers gave their lives liberating Guam.
German Shepherd Dog — Consistently one of the United States’ most popular breeds according to AKC® Registration Statistics, the German Shepherd Dog is energetic, fun-loving and a loyal family pet. They require regular exercise and their intelligence, high trainability and loyalty have made them a popular choice for police and military work. German Shepherds like other military breeds are used for their strong sense of smell which is estimated to be 40 times greater than that of a human.
Siberian Husky— Bred in Northeast Asia as a sled dog, the Siberian Husky is known for its amazing endurance and willingness to work. Its agreeable and outgoing temperament makes it a great all-around dog. The breed served in the Army’s Arctic Search and Rescue Unit during World War II.