College of Arts and Sciences


Master of Arts in History - Thesis (MA)


David Snead


War Dog, Military Dog, Military Working Dog, Dogs, World War II, Military History, American History, Mascots, World War I, Sentry Dog, Sled Dog; Pack Dog, Messenger Dog, Scout Dog




In World War II, the military dog became synonymous with patriotism and the fight for a free world. In the absence of a military dog program at the beginning of World War II, the United States was the exception amongst Western powers. The establishment of an official military dog program in the United States during World War II was a critical and inevitable step in the development of the country’s military. Through the creative collaboration of civilians and military personnel, the K9 Corps and Dogs for Defense organization produced trained military dogs that had immediate positive impacts on the battlefield and laid the foundations for a permanent military dog program within the United States. It is key that America’s military dog program be understood within the context of the place of dogs in American history. Furthermore, one cannot understand the creation of the first K-9 Corps without evaluating both the military and civilian actors involved in its creation. Dogs for Defense must be studied in tandem with the K-9 Corps, for only together can the workings of these complex organizations in their very infancy be quantified. The creation of the American military dog program in World War II laid the foundation for the continued utilization of the military dog, served as the proving ground for the capabilities of dogs, and expanded the understanding of how dogs might be used on the battlefield.

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