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Four-legged Fighters

November 29, 2021 | Active Service Members

Even if you consider yourself a “cat person”, it’s hard to not admire the military’s four-legged fighters. You will find these adorable U.S. military working dogs serving wherever American troops do. There are about 1,600 working dogs serving all branches of our military on land, air and sea. They are as lovable as they are loyal but make no mistake – these are highly skilled warriors, trained by the best to serve alongside them.


Dogs have fought alongside man since ancient times. The Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, Romans, and others used dogs as sentries and scouts and sometimes brought dogs into combat. The earliest recorded use of canines in combat was by Alyattes of Lydia against the Cimmerians around 600 BC. Although dogs have worked alongside soldiers since the Civil War in the U.S., it wasn’t until World War II that the first K-9 corps was created. They were officially recognized in the U.S. on March 13, 1942.


Around 13% of these working pups are born and bred at the Military Working Dog Center on Lackland AFB, TX at a state-of-the-art whelping facility. The breeding program selects and breeds quality working-line Belgian Malinois- considered ideal for the military because of their high energy, strong sniffers, trainability, agility, speed, drive, work ethic, loyalty and when needed fierceness. The other 87% are purchased from approximately 30 vendors stateside and overseas.

Anywhere from 50-90 pups are born into the program each year. The puppies will stay at the center until they are eight weeks old, then they will go home with dedicated and qualified ‘foster’ volunteers from the greater San Antonio/ Austin area. This allows them to be nurtured, played with, exposed to different environments, and develop as a socially sound puppy. At seven months they are returned to the facility for ‘Puppy Training’ or ‘basic training’ to see if they have what it takes to make it as a military working dog. The pups that do not meet the Department of Defense requirements will go on to work for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and law enforcement agencies throughout our country, serving and protecting our citizens and communities.


If you live within a two-hour drive of Lackland AFB, TX, have a fenced-in yard and no more than three personal dogs consider serving your country by fostering a military pup! You can contact the Foster Consultants at (210) 671-3686 or mwd.foster@us.af.mil to get more information.


Sources: https://www.defense.gov/Multimedia/Experience/Four-Legged-Fighters/ https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/news/what-are-military-working-dogs/

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