Military Working Dogs

April 25, 2008 at 11:00 am | Posted in Dogs, Military | 6 Comments

I’ve written a few posts about Army Veterinarians. In one of the posts I briefly touched on the idea that treating MWDs poses some unique challenges compared to treating “pets”. Quite a bit of this is due to the fact that MWDs aren’t your typical pet. Many of the jobs MWDs are bred and trained to perform require a certain amount of aggression. It is a controlled aggression- that’s why there is a handler and a lot of training- but the aggression is still present. Dogs, much like humans, have a harder time controlling their aggression when in pain. As a result, military veterinarians take additional precautions when treating MWDs as part of routine practice. MWDs also receive a level of veterinary care that very few non-MWDs, if any, receive. They have more frequent physical exams, even when not experiencing any problems, receive very regular exercise, and are fed a quality diet.

Dogs first started “working” for the US Military in 1942 through the US Army K-9 corps. German Shepherds are usually the first breed people think of for MWDs, but other breeds also serve, including Belgian Malinois and labrador retrievers. The breed of the dog is often highly correlated with the specific job they have. The types of jobs MWDs are trained for and their role in the military have expanded through the years. Most people think of a typical “guard dog”/ sentry or even accompanying soldiers on patrol when they think about the roles MWDs fill in the military. These are both very important roles, but they are not the only roles MWDs fill in the modern military.

Today, MWDs also assist with explosives detection, search and rescue, and even as unofficial “therapy dogs” for deployed servicemembers. The same physiological characteristics that make dogs powerful tools for detecting illegal narcotics have also resulted in the ability of some dogs to be trained to “sniff out” explosives. All military working dogs receive their initial training through the 341st Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. There is a military website with some great background information on MWDs and links to other sites (warning: the link takes you to a website that will be playing a song when you open it). It also has some great pictures- I love Zeko in his shades! I highly recommend going to the last link and spending some perusing the available information. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.



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  1. MWDs are pretty amazing pooches! The only sad thing is they have to put them down once they’re done performing their duties. Sorry to throw out that fly in the ointment.

  2. Huh, sorry that was kind of a “Captain Bring Down” comment. Maybe I should go smoke a Kool or something.

  3. MWD in Belarus Army

  4. No need to go smoke a Kool LT. Nixon. The MWDs don’t always have to be put down after they are done with their duties. I was planning on a follow-up post about this anyway, but wanted to make sure you don’t depress anyone else (or yourself further). I’ll be posting the follow-up sometime in the next 24 hours.

  5. Thanks for visiting Valery and linking at your blog. I enjoyed the pictures with your post- they capture three unique aspects of the MWD (friend/companion, the aggression, and athleticism).

  6. игры на телефон андроид, ny.

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