Military Canines: America’s Underrated Heroes

Everyone knows dogs are a man’s best friend, but few are aware that some special canines have the backs of some of the toughest men in America.

Dogs can be dated all the way back to being used by conquistadors in Florida to track down Native Americans. Even in WWI, many dogs were used as messengers and again in WWII dogs were used to sniff out enemy posts and positions.

Military dogs are trained to sniff out IEDs or improvised explosive devices. These dogs and their handlers are put at first risk for any bombs and landmines in order to clear the path for soldiers behind them. Combat canines have been seen as one of the Pentagon’s defense tactics against hidden terrorist bombs. The arsenal behind these tough pups lies in their nose. Navy SEALs and Marines utilize German Shepherds for their keen sense of smell, which is 40 times that of a human’s, and for their natural ability to search and acquire objects.

The Shepherd’s close cousin, the Belgian Malinois, has been seen paired with Navy SEALs in parachute missions. When parachuting into water, these brave canines fly solo. The Belgian breed has a more compact build making it the ideal choice to fly tandem with soldiers but they still maintain the speed and intellect needed for military missions alongside their smaller stature.

Amongst these parachuting pooches, one named Cairo is famous for having helped in the mission to capture Osama Bin Laden. Fully equipped as much as any other soldier, military dogs are treated as full members of the Navy SEALs or any branch of the military. You can visit to see full diagrams and descriptions of the military canine vests and equipment, including a video camera to give handlers a view of battlegrounds before entering. There are about 2800 active-duty dogs in the military and 600 of those are being used in the Middle East.

When it comes to training these special ops pups, former Navy SEAL Mike Ritland is renowned for training dogs the SEAL way. He emphasizes that the fundamentals of training any breed of dog are non-verbal communication and exuding respect through body language. Ritland’s book How to Train Your Dog – The Navy SEAL Way explains that changing your mentality on how your dog views you and vice versa will facilitate your dog’s growth to its full potential.

For those of you interested in adding a German Shepherd to your family, Central Florida German Shepherds breeds dogs locally from Tampa to Ft. Lauderdale. Visit their website for more information at