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Top 10 Best Military Dog Breeds

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If you’re anything like me, the moment you think “military dog” you envision a German Shepherd Dog or Doberman patrolling a barbed wire fence and barking fiercely when confronted by the enemy. It’s an image that we’ve so many times in movies and television shows. But as always, you can’t trust Hollywood for accuracy. Those are far from the only breeds of pup who have used in military service and just one of the many roles assigned to the enlisted K-9s and military dog breeds. When you dig into the history, it’s amazing what a wide range of pups have performed a wide range of tasks in military service.

So what are the jobs typically assigned to our favourite furry friends by the military? Well, there are many and often those jobs require completely opposite tasks and behaviours. While Sentry dogs are taught to walk alongside their guard or handler and warn by growling or barking at approaching strangers, a Scout dog is trained to work silently so that they can detect and alert their handler to snipers, enemy presence, and ambushes. A Messenger dog carries information between handlers, while Mine Dogs are trained to detect both metallic and non-metallic land-mines as well as booby traps and trip wires. Casualty dogs are your war-time version of a search and rescue pooch who can quickly locate injured soldiers. While Tunnel dogs have been used to explore the confines of underground spaces to seek out enemy forces and alert handlers. Finally, Explosives Detection dogs have been specifically trained to pick up on the scent of the chemicals used in bombs and alert their handler when those odours hit their little pup noses.

As you can see, there are quite a wide range of tasks for military service dogs these days. That requires a wide variety of breeds who can deliver on those tasks. Since the military has been training dogs for decades, they have experimented with a wide variety of breeds and come up with quite a list of powerful pups who are up to the tasks. So, who are the top dogs when it comes to military duty past and present? Keep your eyeballs glued to this page to find out. (Photo credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock)

German Shepherd Dog

This beautiful pup is a top pick for a variety of reasons. First of all, German Shepherds are  strong, agile and easy-to-train for scout dog duty. But that’s not all. Importantly, these doggos aren’t overly aggressive, so that they can remain calm in hostile locations. Plus, their loyal and predictable personality makes for a dependable wing-man when one of these beauties is by your side in a war-zone. Few breeds are up to as many service dog tasks as German Shepherds. (Photo credit: serav/Shutterstock)


Belgian Malinois

This German Shepherd look-alike possesses the same dependable, intelligent, and trainable personality as the real deal. There is a little twist with a Belgian Malinois that makes a difference though. These pups come in a more compact form than German Shepherds, which makes them better for missions where they are parachuted or repelled into a situation with their handlers. That slight difference in size can make a huge difference in a war zone. (Photo credit: Ekaterina Brusnika/Shutterstock)


Labrador Retriever

Everyone who has ever owned a Labrador Retriever can tell you that their nose is naturally gifted. So, it only makes sense that this pooch with the always-on sense of smell would be the ideal choice for sniffing out explosives. They are also well suited to search and rescue missions where timing is critical and you need an ultra-obedient dog with an effective nose on the job. Labrador Retrievers are the perfect pups to smell out danger and lead with their noses on the battlefield. (Photo credit: OlgaOvcharenko/Shutterstock)


Doberman Pinscher

It’s no surprise that this lean, athletic pooch has been a favorite of the US Marines dating back to WWII. Often dubbed the Devil Dog of the Marines, the Doberman Pinscher’s intelligence, easy trainability, and alertness make the breed a perfect choice for the role of a Scout or Patrol dog. They’ve been on the front lines for generations now and that won’t be changing any time soon. (Photo credit: xieyuliang/Shutterstock)


Rottweiler

This beautifully big pooch is confident, ready to work, and best of all loyal. That made Rottweilers the ideal candidate to serve as messenger dogs back during WWI and WWII. During an era when communication was far more difficult, soldiers had to rely on these remarkable dogs’ strong devotion to their handlers to make their way through dangerous and scary terrain to deliver information. While messenger dogs thankfully aren’t as necessary on the battlefield these days, they still often serve in the military. (Photo credit: Serova_Ekaterina/Shutterstock)


Boxer

An inherent wariness around strangers, an alert disposition, natural strength and impressive agility made these athletic dogs with the jowly good looks and iconic underbites an ideal candidate for work in the military during WWI. At that time, boxers held a wide variety of roles including messenger dog, scout, and patrol dog. They were one of the most versatile service dog breeds of the era and continue to be trained for military service to this day. (Photo credit: Dmitry Kalinovsky/Shutterstock)


Airedale Terrier

While Airedale Terriers can be bit headstrong, these athletic pups are quick to pick up commands, obedient, loyal, and aren’t a big fan of strangers. This makes them ideal candidates to serve as scouts or patrol dogs. The Airedale Terriers’ superior sense of smell was spotted by the military and frequently used in search and rescue missions during WWI. (Photo credit: Lenkadan/Shutterstock)


Giant Schnauzer

The Giant Schnauzer began being used in a soldierly capacity during the 40’s when the Soviets were trying to develop the perfect military dog. Giant Schnauzers were used as a foundation breed for the Soviets and served that army well. Typically, these dogs have a reserved personality and are inherently suspect of strangers as well as quite territorial. So, obviously that’s the dog you want to take on night patrol. These pups won’t let any stranger cross enemy lines without alerting their masters. (Photo credit: Nikiforova Viktoria/Shutterstock)


Alaskan Malamutes and Huskies

War wasn’t always on the field or in the jungles and during WWII. A number of planes en route to Europe ended up crash landing in Greenland. The U.S. knew they needed a special type of dog to locate and help rescue these airmen. So the military drafted Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes. These pups were up for the difficult task in the snow and have served as military service animals in cold climates ever since. (Photo credit: DiLiDon/Shutterstock)


Yorkshire Terrier

I know what you’re thinking. How could these cute little pups who fit easily into handbag possible serve in the military. Well, heroes truly come in all sizes, so let’s not forget a wee Yorkie named Smoky who protected his human troop pack during WWII by pulling urgently needed telegraph wires through a really scary, partially destroyed 70-foot pipe that ran under an airfield exposed to enemy fire. Sometimes you need a little dog to get you you out of a tight spot and the fiercely loyal and (despite the pint size) fearless Yorkshire Terrier has proven to be up to difficult tasks where larger doggos would dare not go. (Photo credit: Steve Bruckmann/Shutterstock)


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