Source: The Scotsman (Extract)
Posted: April 13, 2023

There are a whopping 221 different breeds of pedigree dog to choose from, alongside numerous crossbreeds, so there’s plenty of thinking to do before you select your family’s latest addition.

There’s even academic guidance to seek out, with Psychologist Stanley Coren’s book ‘The Intelligence of Dogs’ ranking breeds by instincts, obedience, and the ability to adapt.

Of course, while dogs make amazing pets, they also have a range of important jobs to carry out – from herding sheep to guiding blind and partially-sighted people about their daily lives.

They are also used by the armed forces to carry out crucial missions both during war and in peacetime.

They even have their own medal for bravery – the PDSA Dickin Medal is the highest award any animal can receive while serving in the military and was created during World War 2.

These are the 10 breeds that make the best military dogs.

1. Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois have largely the same attributes as their German Shepherd cousins, but come in a slightly smaller package. The fact that they are more compact can be crucial for missions requiring animals to be parachuted into war zones, or access narrow passages.

2. German Shepherd

German Shepherds have every attribute required of a military dog, making them the most popular choice for armies around the world. They are strong, agile, loyal, highly trainable and will stay calm in even the most hostile environment.

3. Yorkshire Terrier

Not all military dogs are big and brawny. The Yorkshire Terrier’s diminuative size, combined with a fearless nature, means they can carry out tasks that bigger dogs simply can’t. During World War Two, for example, they were used to pull telegraph wires down thin tunnels to allow communication.

4. Dobermann

The Dobermann is a particularly popular choice for the US army, where they have earned the nickname ‘the Devil Dog of the Marines’ since first serving during Wold War 2. Their strenrth and athleticism makes them a great choice for a patrol dog.

5. Labrador Retriever

The relaxed Labrador Retriever is another breed that can keep a cool head while all those around them are losing theirs. Their amazing sense of smell makes them the perfect canine soldier for sniffing out exposives.

6. Alaskan Husky

For military operations in colder climates, you’ll always want a pack of Huskies on your side. The US army have used this breed to rescue airmen who crashed in the icy wilderness of Greenland during World War Two. They are strong, loyal, and can pull sledges weighed down with equipment for miles in snowy conditions without a break.

7. Airedale Terrier

Airedales are dogs that enjoy taking orders and acting accordingly, while their natural suspicion of strangers can prove invaluable when on patrol. They also have an excellent sense of smell, meaning they are frequently used in search and rescue missions.

8. Giant Schnauzer

The Giant Schnauzer was the dog of choice for the Soviet Union army in the 1940s and arguably remain the best patrol dog – with their extreme territorialism meaning no stranger will go unnoticed without the alarm being raised.

9. Rottweiler

Rottweilers were used as messenger dogs during both World Wars, gaining a reputation for braving danger to deliver important communications. They may no longer be needed for this purpose, due to modern technology, but their devotion to their handlers still makes them a popular four-legged recruit.

10. Boxer

Boxers are another dog breed that proved popular during World War Two, carrying out a range of duties including as messengers, scouts and patrol dogs. They are still recruited to the armed forces today, thanks to their strength, agility and loyalty.