Canines have been a vital part of war efforts for thousands of years. Since ancient times they have been used by countless civilizations warring against each other. Certain civilizations even went so far as to honor the memories of dogs who fought bravely through the painting of murals. Since those ancient times, the roles of dogs in warfare have changed considerably, but there is no denying that the military working dog is an essential part of any military campaign.
Military working dogs today are rarely deployed to the front lines of heated battle. Instead, just as military roles for humans have largely shifted to smaller, and more covert operations, military dogs are being deployed for more specialized purposes. The battlefield of today is worlds apart from the battlefields of our forefathers. Enemy soldiers are often hidden among civilians, wearing civilian clothes. Military canines must be able to react in a split-second in the event of a surprise attack from an armed aggressor in civilian attire.
Another important role is that of scouting, surveillance and detection of explosives. Improvised explosive devices can be disguised and hidden in a wide variety of ways. While these devices can quickly catch a human off-guard, a military canine can pick up on the minute scents of explosive materials before they cause harm. Some canines are being outfitted with new technologies to help small teams scout ahead of an area. Small cameras attached to the head of a dog allows the handler to see everything the dog sees before their team moves into position.
The majority of military working dogs are German Shepherds, although Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherds are becoming more popular. Sadly, although many military dogs are made to wear specially designed bullet-resistant Kevlar vests, they are far from invincible. Numerous military memorials bare the names of canines who have fallen in service to their countries. They are a true testament to the loyalty and bravery of dogs at war.