Did they use dogs in WW2?

Some twenty thousand dogs served the U.S. Army, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps. They guarded posts and supplies, carried messages, and rescued downed pilots. Scout dogs led troops through enemy territory, exposing ambushes and saving the lives of platoons of men.

World War II has been described as one of the most devastating wars in history, with over 60 million people, including both military personnel and civilians, killed during the six year conflict. The participation of nations around the world and the development of new technologies and strategies meant that the war had a huge impact on global history. One of the ways nations and individuals participated in the war was by using dogs for military purposes, and we are going to explore this topic in more detail in this blog post. We will answer the question of whether dogs were used in World War II and, if so, how they were used and to what effect. We will examine the roles of dogs in the war and the impact they had on the conflict, as well as exploring the personal stories of some of the brave and heroic dogs that risked their lives to serve their countries.

America’s Dog Paratroopers at the Bulge

One often overlooked war dog was the draft animal. Dogs trained to pull small, two-wheeled carts containing machine-gun ammunition or other supplies were used by some of the smaller warring nations. German Gebirgsjaeger (mountain troops) were particularly fond of draft dogs, using them to pull sleds or carts through difficult terrain. In Newfoundland, Greenland, Iceland, and Alaska, where the dangerous northern weather made transporting American-built aircraft to other fronts a risky undertaking, many downed pilots were located and saved by Canadian and American dogsled teams. Frequently, messenger dogs returned from headquarters with small amounts of essential supplies.

During the Battle of the Bulge, the mechanized and motorized American forces discovered they could not find or reach the wounded in many difficult areas due to the Ardennes’ deep snow, dense forests, and rough terrain. With the intention of using 200 sled dogs—mostly Malamutes and Huskies—and their mushers from Arctic commands as dog sled ambulances, Colonel Norman Vaughan, who was already well-known in the sled dog community, flew them in. Dropping them by parachute was the only way to get them to the ground forces quickly where they were needed. Despite the dismissal of this ridiculous notion by his superiors, Lt Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. , saved the plan and the dogs became paratroopers.

However, a British collie named Rob, who allegedly made 20 combat jumps while serving with the British Special Air Service commandos in North Africa, was the first active duty airborne dog.

In 4000 BC, the Egyptians were the first to use dogs in battle. Despite the British and Americans’ war dog training programs being scaled back or abandoned in the 1930s (but not the Germans, whose programs were actually expanded in the run-up to the European War), by 1942 dog training had once again gained momentum. Dogs were used for a variety of purposes during World War II, including sentries, messengers, propaganda tools, and even suicide bombers. A small selection of images of some of these four-legged World War II participants are shown below.

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The War Department approved the formation of fifteen Quartermaster war dog platoons by June 1944. These units had their own Table of Organization and Equipment, which listed twenty enlisted personnel, one officer, sixteen messenger dogs, and 18 scout dogs. By the end of the year, all fifteen platoons had been deployed, seven to Europe and eight to the Pacific.

The stage was set for an expansion and formalization of dog training in the Army after reducing the number of acceptable breeds and consolidating administration of the program under the Remount Branch. The knowledge required was documented on paper by one of the DFD organizers, Mrs. Alene Stern Erlanger was the author of TM-10-396-WAR DOGS, the Army’s first official training guide on using dogs in combat. The QMC also opened four dog training facilities by the end of 1942 at Front Royal, Virginia; Fort Robinson, Nebraska; Camp Rimini, Montana; and San Carlos, California. The Army started an ambitious program at these facilities to train dogs for work at home and on the front lines.

Additionally, only one dog—another one in Europe—has ever been awarded a decoration for valor. “Chips” was a German shepherd-husky-collie mix that belonged to the 30th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division, along with handler Private John Rowell. When the division arrived in Sicily on July 10, 1943, Chips and Rowell got to work. They walked up to a grass-covered hut and a machine gun started firing. The hut was, in fact, a camouflaged bunker. Rowell lost control of Chips very quickly, and he ran straight for the bunker. Chips began chomping at the Italian soldier’s throat and arms as the machine gun quickly stopped firing. Three others quickly emerged from the bunker with raised arms. Chips was lightly hurt in the incident, sustaining several cuts and powder burns.

Although they were used in open, fast-paced fighting in Europe, dogs were found to be much less effective there. In Europe, artillery was more frequently employed, and despite training, heavy shelling still made dogs nervous and less effective. Dogs were often of little use because Allied forces were moving so quickly against the Germans, especially in the final stages of the war, so they were assigned to sentry duties. Still, dogs did prove themselves useful in some situations.

The M-dog project was innovative but ultimately doomed to failure. It was found that the dogs couldn’t tell the difference between the intentionally turned earth from mine placement and the shell and bomb debris. Additionally, while the dogs were tested under the assumption that they would serve behind the front lines, in actual use, they frequently encountered combat situations, which further diminished their effectiveness. Canines’ keen sense of smell, which can be trained to identify the chemical components of explosives, was only discovered after the war. As a result, dogs are currently very successful at finding bombs and mines.


Which dogs were used in ww2?

Doberman pinschers made up about 75% of the combat dogs used during World War II, with German Shepherds making up 25%. Dogs for Defense, a nonprofit, allowed members of the public to lend their family dogs to the Marine Corps. Many of the war dogs were also provided by the Doberman Pinscher Club of America.

Did they use dogs as bombs in ww2?

Only four of the first 30 dogs were able to successfully detonate their bombs close to the German tanks, causing an unknown amount of damage. When they returned to the Soviet trenches, six of them exploded, killing and wounding soldiers.

When were dogs used in ww2?

1941–1945: With limited success, the Soviet Union used explosive-tipped dogs to fend off German invasion tanks. Between 1943 and 1945, the United States Marine Corps used dogs that were donated by American owners to aid in liberating islands from Japanese occupying forces in the Pacific theater.

Did they use dogs in ww1?

During World War I, dogs performed a variety of tasks for most European armies, playing an important military role. Dogs hauled machine gun and supply carts. They were messengers as well, frequently carrying messages through a hail of gunfire.