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Top Military Dog Breeds

At A Glance

The top military dog breeds include the German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, Doberman Pinscher, Black Russian Terrier, and others.

These dogs have served in the military in many roles, working as attack dogs, communications dogs, mascots, detection and tracking dogs, and medical research dogs.

Last Updated on: Mar 25, 2022

When you think “military dog,” you probably think of a German Shepherd Dog or a Doberman Pinscher. You can imagine them patrolling a fence or barking furiously at an enemy.

Many breeds of dogs have served in the military. They have performed a variety of tasks. Throughout history, military working dogs have served as attack dogs, communication dogs, mascots, detection and tracking dogs, and medical research dogs.

This article talks about some of the top military dog breeds and their unique features.

An image of a German Shepherd

German Shepherd

A German army officer, Captain Max von Stephanitz, developed the German Shepherd dogs for the military. German Shepherds remain one of the top military dog breeds. They are intelligent, hard-working, loyal, and brave. These dogs grow up to a height of 25 inches. They weigh up to 95 pounds.

The German army used trained German Shepherd dogs during World War-I. These dogs worked as guards, messengers, and ammunition carriers. By the Second World War, other countries, like the U.S., had their own German Shepherds. The breed now serves the armed forces worldwide.

German Shepherds are strong, agile, and trainable. Yet, they are not too aggressive. Similarly, they remain calm in hostile situations.

They are one of the top sniffer breeds. This dog are the police and armed forces’ best companions and have proved to be national heroes on many occasions. For example, they worked as search and rescue dogs after the 9/11 attacks. They sniffed through the ruins of the World Trade Center, searching for survivors.


Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois dog breed was a herding dog. They resemble German Shepherds. It is one of four varieties of Belgian sheepdogs developed in Belgium in the late 1800s. The four varieties are the Malinois, the Tervuren, the Laekenois, and the Groenendael.

They first proved their skills as military dogs in World War I and served as messengers. Similarly, they helped find wounded soldiers left on the battleground.

They are fast learners, obedient, great at tracking, and agile which made them great at protection sports, search and rescue.

Thanks to these skills, they excel as military dogs. They are often deployed with Navy SEALS. This is because they weigh less than German Shepherds and can parachute easily.

Cairo was a Belgian Malinois who was part of the SEAL team that tracked down Osama Bin Laden in 2011.

Like the German Shepherd, it is responsible, clever, and trainable. These dogs are smaller than German Shepherds which makes them ideal for missions where their handlers parachute or repulse them. Because of this, it makes a big difference in a war zone.

An image of a doberman siiting on a brown field

Doberman Pinscher

These guard dogs originated in the late 19th century in Germany. They are a crossbreed of dogs like the Rottweiler, the Black and Tan Terrier, and the German Pinscher.

A German man, Louis Dobermann, developed the breed in the late 1800s. He was a tax collector, so he wanted a powerful guard dog to go with him for safety. Dobermann also kept the local stray dogs away.

Doberman Pinschers worked as military working dogs. They served during both world wars. Known for being clever, alert, loyal, and brave. They work as guards, messengers, and detection dogs.

The first war dog memorial was built in Guam, where 25 Devil Dog Dobermans lost their lives and were buried.

Dobermans are not used much in the U.S. military today but still serve in countries like India.

Its trainability and focus make it a perfect choice for a scout or patrol dog.

An image of The black russian terrier

The Black Russian Terrier

These black beauties are intelligent and confident guard dogs. They are not true Terriers.

After the Second World War, the Soviet army combined 17 different breeds to create the perfect working dog for their needs. It resulted in the Black Russian Terrier, a large and protective dog. The Black Russian Terrier was able to work in the extreme conditions of Russia because of its size, courage, agility, and strength make it an outstanding military dog. These dogs have also worked at rail junctions, prisons, and various military venues.

A Moscow kennel, the Red Star, developed the Black Russian Terrier around the 1930s just to work in the military.

Today, Black Russian Terriers work as patrol dogs. They detect mines and perform search and rescue operations.


An image of an Alaskan malamute

Alaskan Malamute

This dog looks like the Siberian Husky. The U.S. military used this breed for sledding during World War II. They were also one of the first military dogs trained to parachute.

It has incredible strength, stamina, and intelligence. This makes it a perfect fit for a military dog. They have a great search and rescue capacity. In the same sense, they can jump into harsh terrain and transport rescue teams looking for crashed planes and crew.

On their way to Europe during the Second World War, many planes crashed and landed in Greenland. The U.S. realized they needed a smart dog to locate and rescue these soldiers. So the military employed Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes for the task.

An image of a Dutch Shepherd on a green grass

Dutch Shepherd

They are one of the top military dog breeds. This Dutch breed served as a shepherd’s dog in the countryside, guarding flocks of sheep.

Dutch Shepherds look like the German Shepherd which they are often mistaken for this popular breed. They are reliable, intelligent, alert, intuitive, and very loyal to their master. This makes these dogs great watchdogs and military dogs. And so, they became part of the German army during the Second World War.

Today, they make up a large part of the military dogs in the U.S. military.

An image of a black labrador

Labrador Retriever

This might surprise many readers! After all, the Labrador Retriever is a gentle, loving family dog. A labrador’s nose is naturally gifted. Its sense of smell helps find explosives, illegal substances, and so on.

No wonder then, the lab is an amazing military dog. They can smell out any form of danger on the battlefield and alert the soldiers. In addition, they are friendly, intelligent, and highly trainable. Devotion runs deep in them, and they learn commands quickly.

Labradors work as combat stress control dogs. They demand high levels of activity, so they do well in these roles. It is another reason why Labradors are popular military dogs.

An image of a boxer dog


Originated in Germany are the Boxers. They came to the U.S. after the First World War so they are cautious around strangers and alert. Known for their are strength and agility, this made them ideal for work in the military during the First World War.

Boxers descended from the German Bullenbeisser, which came from mastiffs and the bulldog. They are large, muscular, square-headed dogs. Moreover, they are alert, intelligent, and fearless.

They worked in a wide variety of roles, for instance as messengers, scouts, and patrol dogs. Similarly, they are one of the most adaptable dog breeds and are still used in military service today. They carried out many duties in World War II.

Boxers became famous in the U.S. around the 1940s. When soldiers came home from World War II, they brought their boxer mascots with them. This way, more people got to interact with the breed, and it became a favorite.

An image of a german shepherd
We hope this article helped you understand more about the top military dog breeds.

While there are many other military dog breeds, these are the best-ranked ones. Do share the article with your family and friends, and let us know what they think.

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Paul Andrews

A digital marketing expert by profession, Andrews is a gifted writer and animal lover at heart. A self-confessed "pawrent", Andrews is well-versed in all things dogs. He uses his years of experience of raising puppies into show-quality dogs to help guide first-time pet parents. He believes in spreading the joy that comes with being a dog dad and advocates more families to adopt pets.