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Published: Nov 11, 2011

As November 11 is a time to recognize all the dedicated men and women who have served and fought to protect the nation, it has also become a day to honor the canine veterans who serve alongside human troops.

According to, dogs started serving in the United States military in 1942, during which time the animals were not bred and trained for serving, but were actually pets of American families who were donated to serve during World War II. Breeds like the doberman pinscher, rottweiler, boxer, bullmastiff, collie and German shepherds were commonly deployed. In 1943, the War Dog program was established and by the end of July that same year, more than 11,000 dogs had been trained to serve.

Dogs perform a number of unique duties while serving. Some act as sentry dogs, who assisted in guard duty at ammunition dumps and more. Tactical dogs are trained to be used in certain combat situations - they are even fitted with camouflage outfits and gas masks. Silent scout dogs use their remarkable senses to given warnings to their handlers about the presence of enemy forces.

These animals continue to lend their services today, helping to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sometimes, because of their temperament, these American canine heroes have a tough time getting adopted after retirement, though nonprofits like the Military Working Dog Foundation work to ensure these dogs are well taken care of after their services end.