A History of the Military Dog Breeds Who Fought Alongside Us
We bet you have big plans with your pooch this holiday weekend — maybe a game of fetch or a run on the beach or just a nap in the hammock. However you celebrate, we know you’ll enjoy your time with your best friend.
But dogs can be more than companions. In many cases, they stand alongside servicemen and servicewomen in combat zones, where they display the same loyalty and responsibility we value in them at home.
This Memorial Day, we look back at the history of military dogs and celebrate the successes and sacrifices of our canine comrades in arms.
World War I Rescue Dogs
In the Trenches
Odor Detector Dogs
Modern Military Dogs
For deployment in the Middle East, the Belgian Malinois is the military dog of choice. More heat resistant than the German Shepherd and equally, if not more, nimble and responsive, the Belgian Malinois is also a popular police dog. Its light and compact build makes it ideal for tandem parachute jumps as well. A Malinois named Cairo was part of the U.S. Navy SEAL mission that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.
Designing Military Breeds
The Soviets weren't alone in their desire to create the ideal military dog. The Canaan Dog is descended from largely feral dogs left to fend for themselves in the Negev Desert in southern Israel. Bedouins would capture the canines and train them as guard and livestock dogs. When the Israeli Defense Force tried to use military dogs in the 1930s, the popular military breeds couldn't handle the heat. So Dr. Rudolphina Menzel followed the Bedouins' example and domesticated feral Canaan Dogs; the dogs were used to develop a breeding and training program. By World War II, Canaan Dogs were serving as all-purpose military dogs.
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