War dogs in Vietnam

Narrated from: Special Dogs

The war in Vietnam will always be remembered for the terrible toll taken of both sides. Countless lives were lost in a war that might not have ended all wars, but at least taught people that war is a terrible thing.

And of course, Man’s best friend also suffered for Man’s mistakes.

When war was announced and soldiers were shipped to pay the butcher’s bill in Vietnam, dogs went with them. At this time, dogs were already a well-recognized and important part of the US army.

Who are the war dogs?

Most war dogs during the Vietnam War were German Shepherds and Labradors. German Shepherds have always been recognized as the best breed for war duty due to the combination of physical and mental attributes that make these dogs into loyal and flexible soldiers.

When dogs were introduced into the military during WWI, Doberman were the second breed preferred for soldiering, but later on they were replaced by the loyal Labradors.

Military working dogs

There was a large variety of occupations for war dogs during the Vietnam War. No wonder the correct term for them is military working dogs – what these dogs did was much more than fighting.

War dogs served in the invaluable scout units, the “eyes and ears” of the infantry units marching through the jungle.

Labradors were usually tasked to serve in combat tracker teams, who had to locate the enemy. These teams were also usually sent to find missing soldiers, downed pilots, etc.

Other dogs were tasked with another sort of scouting – they had to check their unit’s route for mines, booby traps, and bombs. 
And of course – every army is most vulnerable when asleep, and sentry dogs were always the first line of defense.

Into Vietnam

Officially, 3 747 war dogs were sent to serve in Vietnam. However, it is believed that the actual number was higher and almost 5 000 dogs went to war with their human handlers during the 11-year long war.

From all these dogs, only 204 exited Vietnam. Many of the other surviving canines were turned over to the South Vietnamese Army, and the others were EUTHANIZED. This shameful act was the closing page of a war that would best remain forgotten.

Of the dog-veterans that managed to get out, many remained part of military forces over the Pacific, and only a few actually returned to the USA.

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