A salute to service dogs in dangerous jobs

Dogs are often thought of as lovable pets, and let’s face it, they are. Man’s best friend also serves a pivotal role in our military in combat areas as well as having roles in the police force. These dogs are no longer just companions but another member of the team you are working with, and just as valued as the person next to you.

What are combat dogs and how do they help the military?

Dogs have a long history of being involved in warfare. They have been used as scouts, trackers, and also help to patrol areas from as far back as the Egyptians. In the second world war the US Marine Corps used dogs donated by their owners to be part of the war effort, and in 2011 Navy seals used a dog in the now infamous Operation Neptune Spear which saw the eventual killing of Osama Bin Laden.

What breeds of dog suit military duties?

There are a number of breeds which suit military service extremely well due to their physiology.

Search and rescue dogs

The ideal breed for search and rescue military dogs really depends on the type of search. For air scenting search dogs work with their nose in the air. These are used for detection of cadavers, people missing in water, avalanche victims and urban disasters. Tracking dogs however work with their noses to the ground following a trail of scent and don’t so much “search” as “follow” their target. Ideal breeds for tracking are Bloodhounds, Basset Hounds and Beagles while air scenting tends to be most commonly performed by Labrador Retrievers, Springer Spaniels and German Shepherds.

Guard & sentry dogs

If you believe popular culture you’ll have images of bad guys or allied soldiers walking in time with their German Shepherd keeping a perimeter safe. However, some other breeds which make for great guard dogs are Doberman Pinschers. They are muscular, fast and intimidating for any intruder to be faced with. With similar markings and colouring, a Rottweiler is also a popular choice as a guard dog. Without proper socialisation, these dogs can be extremely dangerous to anything deemed a potential threat.


As well as horses (and the occasional goat!) the British Military has a heritage of animals as mascots. Irish Wolfhounds have been the mascots of the Irish Guards and the Royal Irish Regiment, while the 3rd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Staffords) have a Staffordshire Bull Terrier as their mascot.

Law enforcement or police dogs

There are numerous functions that dogs play in the police force and some areas do have preferred breeds.

  • General Purpose Dogs – German Shepherds and Dobermans are most common here. They work with human scent searching, tracking and acting as a deterrent.
  • Specialist Detection Dogs – English Springer Spaniels and Border Collies are often seen here and they are trained to detect cadavers, drugs, explosives and guns for example.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our salute to dogs who serve our military so loyally and we at Home from Home dog boarding are very proud of the work they do. If you’re looking for a home from home for your furry friend, contact us today

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