In today’s post, I’m going to share what I believe are the top 15 military working dogs of all time.
Dogs, these four-legged creatures which are branded man’s best friend are not only amazing household pets but have a long history of being in service with the military. Since ancient times dogs are being used to assist humans in battle or even used to go on rescue missions.
Do you know Attila the Hun? Attila was one of the bravest barbarians to ever face the Roman Empire and battle them toe to toe. I mentioned Atilla in this article because he is one of the notable army generals who used Mastiffs to aid him in battle. His four-legged companions are sometimes equipped with full body armor and are the very first ones to engage their enemies in battle, tackling them and then gnawing the Roman legionnaires.
In the midst of the great war, seven German Sheperd puppies survived including Rin Tin Tin who became a famous movie star in the 1920s to 1930s. Rin Tin Tin was rescued and adopted by Corporal Lee Duncan in Lorraine, France after surviving the attack of a German war-dog kennel.
In the second world war, Chips became the most decorated canine in the army earning a Purple Heart, a Distinguished Service Cross, a silver star, and eight battle stars for his service. His most unforgettable adventure is when he jumped into the enemy’s machine gun nest during the invasion of Sicily. His bravery forced the four Italian soldiers to flee from their position and later on be captured by the American forces.
In today’s post, we will talk about the top 15 military dog breeds of all time as I see them. This list contains all the dog breeds that are favored by the military to be their service companion.
Top 15 Military Working Dogs of All Time
# 15: Black Russian Terrier
The Soviet army combined a total of 17 different breeds of dogs including the likes of the Giant Schnauzer, Airedale, and Rottweiler to be a military working dog in the second World war. The result of their breeding was a large, trainable, strong, and high-spirited dog called the Black Russian Terrier, the Soviet Superdog. These dogs are muscular and covered with a coal-black colored double coat. They are smart, playful, courageous, and good with other pets. The Black Russian Terrier is always prepared to protect their territory and the people that they recognize as family. The lifespan of this breed is about 10-14 years and it has an average bite force of a Black Russian Terrier is about 556 PSI (pounds per square inch).
The Black Russian Terrier, abbreviated as BRT or Stalin’s dog (Sobaka Stalina) is a dog breed of dog, developed to serve as guard dog and police dog. It is rare outside the countries of the former Soviet Union but beginning to be formally recognized elsewhere: in July 2004, for instance, it became one of the American Kennel Club recognized breeds due to the efforts of Trident Kennels now located in Oregon. ~ Europetnet
# 14: Mastiff
As mentioned in my introduction, the Mastiff dog breed has been used as a part of an army since ancient times like Attila the Hun, as well as the Persians, Greeks, and Romans. You often see them in the throne room drooling over the floor as their eyes hunger for battle or we can see them patrolling the corners of a palace where their master resides. The early Mastiffs has more of a war dog mentality than working dog. We can simply say that the Mastiff is the original military dog, the one who started the trend. The Mastiff has a lifespan of 9-11 years and a bite force of 552 PSI.
The mastiff is massive, powerful and muscular. The head is heavy and square with a short muzzle and drooping jowls and a black mask around the eyes and nose. The eyes are small and dark hazel or brown in color. The small ears are dark in color and flop downward. The tail is high on the rump, tapers to the tip and reaches to the dog’s hocks…The mastiff’s guard dog roots are likely to manifest themselves when visitors come to the home. The dog tends to be suspicious of strangers and protective of his family and perceived territory. Even so, the mastiff barks infrequently. ~ Hillspet
# 13: Irish Terrier
If there are some rodent problems, who are you gonna call? The Irish Terriers! During the great war, the Allies had a lot of problems with pests inside the trenches. With a lot of things going on around that time, the allied troops does not have all the time to properly clean the infested trenches. So what they did was employ Irish Terriers to hunt down these pesky rodents making the trenches a little bit safer from diseases. Not only that, these dogs act as a messenger delivering important messages from the trenches to the headquarters or vice-versa. They are called the little red dogs who went to war. The lifespan of an Irish Terrier is approximately 11-13 years and its bite force is between 200-400 PSI.
Originally bred to kill vermin on farms, the Irish Terrier is distinguished by his solid red, dense, low-shedding coat and long, tall body. Courageous, loyal and lively, this breed is affectionate with his human companions but aggressive toward other dogs. The athletic Irish Terrier requires regular exercise in a fenced yard and several leashed walks per day. ~ Purina
# 12: Bouvier des Flanders
These dogs that were developed in Belgium were originally bred to be all-around working farm dogs, to help herd the cattle and pull carts. When the great war started, they immediately responded to the call to arms and aided the allied forces in battle. They were still used as farming dogs plus the tracking ability was added to their skillset. They are huge, fluffy, and cuddly but most importantly they are strong, obedient, and hardworking service dogs. They have a life expectancy of 10-12 years and a bite force of 300-350 PSI.
The Bouvier des Flandres was originally bred to be a versatile farm dog. They helped farmers in a multitude of tasks, including herding livestock (particularly cattle), pulling carts, and guarding. The hard-working and intelligent Bouvier is still an ideal farm dog, as well as a capable service, assistance, law enforcement, and guard dog. ~ Dog Time
# 11: Giant Schnauzer
Same as the Bouvier des Flanders, the Giant Schnauzer was bred to do farm work, but when the war came they were employed as bomb-sniffing dogs. The Germans used them in both world wars and just recently former President Donald Trump got a Giant Schnauzer named Brock as part of his security. Its life span is approximately 12 to 15 years and its bite force is 556 PSI.
The Giant Schnauzer was created to be a working dog breed, so they have intelligence and drive. They can be a loyal and courageous companion for the person who can provide them with the training, exercise, and attention they need. These pups originated in Germany, where they had jobs like driving cattle, working in butcher shops and stockyards, and even guarding breweries. ~ Dog Time
# 10: Labrador Retriever
The nose of the Labrador Retriever is 100,000 times better than a human being’s. Their sense of smell is amazingly superb thanks to the 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses. This breed was the top choice of the U.S. military for combat tracking. The labrador retrievers experienced the taste of battle in Iraq and Afghanistan when they were employed as explosive-detector canines. Their calm and friendly demeanor also makes them great stress-control dogs. Its life expectancy is 10-12 years while they have a bite force of only 230 PSI.
The Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog breed in the United States, based on registration statistics obtained by the American Kennel Club. This breed was first recognized by the AKC in 1917 and originated in Newfoundland.Labradors are medium- to large-breed sporting dogs and weigh 55-80 pounds on average, with females on the lower end of this range. Typically, their height is between 21-25 inches. They have a wide skull and nose, deep chest, strong tail, and a very muscular build. ~ PetMD
# 9: Yorkshire Terrier
The Yorkshire Terrier or Yorkies for short are small but terrible dog breeds that went to war in World War II. The fearless Yorkies were in the second world war as messengers and pull telegraph wires in thin tunnels to allow communication. The most notable Yorkie soldier was named Smoky who weighed 4 pounds and stood 7 inches. The Yorkshire terrier has a life expectancy of 13 to 16 years and a bite force of approximately 150 to 200 PSI.
Describing Smoky as a war dog, a mascot, or as therapy dog for the wounded military men doesn’t do her justice. She was all of those things. But most important, she became a soulmate for Bill Wynne. Wynne spent two years of his childhood in an orphanage, so he knew loneliness firsthand. When he adopted Smoky, he staved off what would have been many lonely hours by training his bright little companion. Then he did a loving thing: He turned and shared her with all those with whom Smoky and Bill came in contact. ~ America Comes Alive!
# 8: Alaskan Malamute
This breed was among the very first dogs to be trained to parachute, they specialize in doing search and rescue missions in harsh terrains. Along with their Siberian Husky friends, they became sled dogs hauling heavy military supplies and equipment on snow-covered terrain. They were originally bred for their strength and endurance perfect for the military but they can also be good pets because they are friendly and loyal. The life span of the Alaskan Malamute is 10-12 years while their bite force is between 200 and 400 PSI.
Alaskan Malamutes are friendly, intelligent dogs that love people. Because of this they are not good guard dogs and cannot be attack-trained (although their size and appearance makes them an effective visual deterrent). They are, however, as strong-willed and determined as they are friendly, and must have obedience training in order to be under control at all times. If Malamutes make up their mind to chase something, they are frequently impossible to call back until they are ready to return. ~ Pedigree
# 7: Boxer
Being loyal and strong, the Germans used the Boxer dog breed to be army working dogs and messenger dogs. Aside from being messengers, they also deployed to scout, patrol, and do search and rescue missions. After World War II, there were a lot of soldiers who came home with a boxer in hand. This mid-size breed is a great companion and guardian of the family. The boxer’s lifespan is 10 to 12 years and their bite force is about 230 PSI.
The modern Boxer was developed in Germany during the 19th century from mastiff type dogs, and was originally used to hunt large game and for fighting or baiting. Boxers are known for their characteristic “boxing” with their front paws while standing on their hind legs. The Boxer is a high-energy dog with an enthusiastic and animated nature. They are a friendly and high-spirited breed that loves to play with children. Some Boxers can be stubborn, but most are eager and quick to learn. Boxers enjoy close human contact and demand to be the center of attention with their clownish antics. ~ Countryside Veterinary Clinic
# 6: Siberian Husky
Along with the Alaskan Malamute, the Siberian Husky is part of a pack of dogs whose mission is to transport heavy equipment and supplies in arctic areas. In areas where vehicles are ineffective, the Huskies acting as sled dogs will be there to do the heavy lifting. They also served as arctic rescue dogs in the second world war. Although they were no longer employed by the U.S. military, the Russians are still using them for the same purposes. Their life expectancy is 12 to 15 years while their bite force is approximately 320 PSI.
Siberian Husky, breed of working dog raised in Siberia by the Chukchi people, who valued it as a sled dog and companion. It was brought to Alaska in 1909 for sled dog races and soon became established as a consistent winner. In 1925 the breed gained widespread fame by saving Nome, Alaska, during a diphtheria epidemic; teams of Siberian Huskies battled blizzard conditions to relay life-saving serum over 674 miles (1,085 km) to the icebound city. A graceful dog with erect ears and a dense soft coat, the Siberian Husky stands 20 to 24 inches (51 to 61 cm) tall at the withers and weighs 35 to 60 pounds (16 to 27 kg). It is usually gray, tan, or black and white, and it may have head markings resembling a cap, a mask, or spectacles. ~ Britannica
# 5: Rottweiler
Obedient and strong, the Rottweilers were employed by the military to serve as messengers, rescue dogs, and guard dogs. They are excellent guard dogs because they can easily detect intruders and immediately alert the guards by barking or directly attacking the infiltrator. As a messenger, they are also tasked to do very important missions like delivering a message to the front lines. These dogs played a huge part in achieving success in many missions. The average life span of a Rottweiler is 10-12 years while their bite force is at 328 PSI.
Rottweilers have big brains for those big heads, and their high intelligence means they love to be occupied with tasks and are wonderful partners in learning. Those who bring home a Rottweiler should be experienced dog owners committed to providing daily learning opportunities and mental enrichment to ensure a healthy, happy dog. As with all dog breeds, Rottweilers respond well to consistent positive reinforcement training. ~ Daily Paws
# 4: Airedale Terrier
This breed is considered to be the “King of Terriers”. They became part of the British military in World War I. They were trained to be communication dogs and same as the other canines, their main mission is to deliver messages back and forth, from the battlefield to the headquarters or vice-versa. These canines were known for their quickness, loyalty to duty, and ability to keep low and out of sight. They were a crucial part of the British military’s command and communication system in the days before dependable mobile radio. The Airedale Terrier’s lifespan is about 10-12 years and its bite force is between 200 to 400 PSI.
Brave and knightly, you might as well call your Airedale King Arthur, but maybe not to their face—they may actually try to rule your world. This energetic pup loves to play and go on adventures and can be a bit… focused… (All right, we’ll say it, they may be a tad intense.) And much like you, they excel at everything they do. (You may not enjoy coming in second place to a dog, but hey, we warned you!) Take them swimming, jogging, or on any adventure fit for a king. Their Majesty will reward you with eternal love and protection. ~ bechewy
# 3: Dobermann
In the second World war, this breed was adopted by the U.S. Marines as their companion of choice. Not only this breed is very intimidating to look at, but they are also very brave and strong. In fact, the U.S. Marines have their own Dobermann corps called the “Devil Dogs”. Their most notable achievement was the battle of Guam. The Dobermann marine corps was able to save hundreds of men by engaging in rescue missions. Many of the “pawsome” companions of the soldiers lost their lives for the success of the mission. They are excellent guard and attack dogs capable of doing a lot of patrol work, acting as messengers, and doing surveillance missions. The life expectancy of a Dobermann is 10 to 13 years while their bite force is approximately 305 to 600 PSI.
Dobermans were developed in late-19th century Germany by Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann. Dobermann worked as a tax collector but he had a few side gigs as well. One was as a night watchman and the other was as the overseer of the town’s dog pound. Collecting tax money throughout the countryside put him at risk for bandits, as did his job as a night watchman. Dobermann used his position at the dog pound to start his own breeding program with the goal of developing an intimidating and vicious guard dog who was also intelligent, athletic, and a faithful companion. ~ History Daily
# 2: Belgian Malinois
While writing this article, it was very hard for me to choose who is number one on my list. I was torn between the German Sheperd and the Belgian Malinois, and after almost 30 minutes of thinking, I was able to finally make a decision. In this present day, the Belgian Malinois breed is the top choice of dog to become a military companion. This dog breed is highly intelligent, athletic, and strong, with a sharp, combative temperament well suited for the military. They are much lighter compared to other large dog breeds which are great for parachuting and they are a perfect match for the SEAL team in doing infiltration and tracking missions. Just recently, a Belgian Malinois named Conan was honored as a hero by former President Donald Trump at the White House. Conan assisted to hunt down and eliminate ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria. Its lifespan is approximately 10-14 years and has a bite force of 195 PSI.
The Belgian Malinois is a medium to large herding dog breed with a short coat and a square, well-balanced build that’s native to Belgium. One of the breed’s trademarks is its high head carriage. These dogs are generally very intelligent, loyal, and diligent. They thrive when they have a job and are extremely well-suited to becoming a working dog, such as in police and military operations. They also can make an excellent companion for the right person, especially an active household. ~ The Spruce Pets
# 1: German Shepherd
Although the Belgian Malinois is currently the top choice for a service dog, for me nothing beats the old German Shepherd. They were originally bred by the German army to be carriers, sentries, and messengers in the first World War. These large dogs are easy to train, highly intelligent, strong, agile, athletic, loyal, and most importantly protective and dependable. They are very consistent and very focused dogs who will join you in battle when their assistance is necessary. Almost all of the armies all over the world employed a German Shepherd as their furry companion because of its almost perfect attributes. This dog breed has a life expectancy of 9-13 years and they have a bite force of 238 PSI.
German Shepherd Dogs can stand as high as 26 inches at the shoulder and, when viewed in outline, presents a picture of smooth, graceful curves rather than angles. The natural gait is a free-and-easy trot, but they can turn it up a notch or two and reach great speeds. There are many reasons why German Shepherds stand in the front rank of canine royalty, but experts say their defining attribute is character: loyalty, courage, confidence, the ability to learn commands for many tasks, and the willingness to put their life on the line in defense of loved ones. German Shepherds will be gentle family pets and steadfast guardians, but, the breed standard says, there’s a ‘certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. ~ American Kennel Club
In conclusion, these are the top 15 Military Working Dogs of all time. Always treat dogs as part of the family these loyal canines will always be there by your side no matter what circumstances in life you may face. Sometimes, they are much more a loyal friend than human beings.
Which military working dog breed on my list is your favorite and why? Which dog did I leave out? Let me hear your thoughts by leaving a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you.
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Watch the video below to watch how they train dogs in the military.
About the Author
Johndel Callora is a freelance writer who offers blog writing services. He works closely with website owners providing his all-around services to increase their search engine visibility.