Sorry to interrupt...this will only take a moment.
This site is an independent reader-supported project.
Because you have viewed at least a few articles now...
Can you give a small donation to keep us online?
We can give you e-books and audiobooks and stuff.
This site is an independent reader-supported project.
The cost of keeping it running are considerable.
If you can spare a few dollars it would help us enormously.
We can give you e-books and audiobooks and stuff.
×
×
Experimental Feature

Select 'Atmospheric Audio' from the Audio menu to add subtle background audio to certain portions of the article.

Let Slip the Dogs of War

Article #160 • Written by Jason Bellows

The Nazi Blitzkrieg was a revolution in warfare that forced the rest of the world into a wild scramble to figure out how to dam the onslaught. The German tanks were fast and powerful, and very difficult for the conventional weapons of 1939 to repel. They rolled over Poland with nary a problem, and soon overran most all of Europe.

But the USSR had been contemplating the issue of warring with tanks for some time, and they had a plan: they were going to sic dogs on them.

So far as the wars of men go, dogs have always been tossed the short end of the stick. Nary does a modern movie depict the way the Romans used mastiffs with razored collars in battle, nor the fully armored Death Hounds (I didn’t make up the name) that the medieval knights would loose on a field to snap at the legs of opponents and dispatch the wounded that littered the ground. In fact, dogs have fought alongside their masters through most of history. At the eve of World War II, the Soviets had a fully operational four-legged fighter division, and a dog with a bomb is a potent foe.

The Soviets were unable to address the looming tank problem with any new technologies right away, thus they were forced to contemplate tackling the issue with the means at hand. Landmines were a viable option, but because one couldn’t count on the Nazis seeking out the mines, they had to figure a way to make the mines seek the tanks.

The answer laid in the dog division. The trainers would starve the dogs, then train them to find food under a tank. The dogs quickly learned that being released from their pens meant to run out to where the training tank was parked and find some vittles. Once trained, the dogs would be fitted with a bomb attached to the back, and loosed into a field of oncoming German Panzers. When the dog climbed underneath the tank–where there was no armor–the bomb would detonate and gut the enemy vehicle.

Realization of that plan was a little less successful. The dogs had been trained to look under a Soviet tank for food, and would sometimes be loosed into a battle just to turn around and find a friendly tank to climb under. Sometimes the dogs would spook at the rumble of a running diesel engine and run away from the battle. Sometimes the dogs just decided they didn’t want to go.

Despite the problems, the Anti-tank dogs were successful at disabling a reported 300 Nazi tanks. It was enough of a problem to the Nazi advance that the Germans were compelled to attempt measures at stopping them. The top mounted machine gun proved ineffective due to the relatively small size of the attackers, the fact that there were low to the ground and hard to spot, and that dogs just don’t want to die when they think they’re close to food. Orders were dispatched that commanded every German soldier to shoot any dogs on sight for fear they might be rabid. Eventually the Germans began using flame-throwers on the tanks to ward the dogs away, and they were much more successful at dissuading the attacks–but some dogs would stop for neither fear of the fire nor actually being burned.

However, in 1942 one use of the Anti-tank dogs went seriously awry when a large contingent of anti-tank dogs ran amok, thus endangered everyone in the battle and forced the retreat of the entire Soviet division. Soon afterward the Anti-tank dogs were pulled from service.

The animals weren’t altogether out of the war, however. By the end, various canine soldiers were credited with having 61,000 fighting at the front lines, the delivery of 2,000 dispatches, the laying of 7,883 kilometers of telephone cable, and the rescue of 680 wounded soldiers.

Article written by Jason Bellows, published on 11 April 2006. Jason is a contributing editor for DamnInteresting.com.

Article design and artwork by Alan Bellows. Edited by Alan Bellows.
SHARE

More Information
Related Articles


51 Comments
Bucky
Posted 11 April 2006 at 08:44 pm

Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing an explosive device strapped to one of those little yappy dogs.


white_matter
Posted 11 April 2006 at 08:51 pm

Pretty smart if not amazingly cruel.

I was in the Army and deployed to Baghdad International Airport. Every vehicle that came through the gate had to be searched top to bottom, inside and out (the same for the passangers as well). Animals on the other hand came and went. I remember thinking one day, "Wow, what a great place to put a bomb...".

Yikes!


Arcangel
Posted 11 April 2006 at 09:33 pm

white_matter said: " Animals on the other hand came and went. I remember thinking one day, "Wow, what a great place to put a bomb…".


Yikes!"

Isn't that why one dog smells another dog's ass, checking for bombs?


Sandra Thurston
Posted 11 April 2006 at 09:43 pm

Hey Alan,

Sooooo, you made the Yahoo pick, huh??? Congrats! I told you your page was pretty damn good...Nice meeting you too! http://spaces.msn.com/sandragenteboa/


andrew
Posted 11 April 2006 at 09:43 pm

Interesting article. Double check your usage of the word "nary".


Doomsdaydevicedriver
Posted 12 April 2006 at 12:27 am

Now isn't that what the Navy does with dolphins? Or did I watch too much TV?


knightrider
Posted 12 April 2006 at 01:44 am

Doomsdaydevicedriver said: "Now isn't that what the Navy does with dolphins? Or did I watch too much TV?"

They do, seals too.
You still watch too much TV though...


1c3d0g
Posted 12 April 2006 at 03:49 am

As a dog lover, it saddens me to read about the atrocities mankind have done to the poor animals. Too bad scumbags like Bucky have to make retarded comments like that, which goes to show that this evil thinking is still prevalent and hasn't been wiped out (yet).


n1cknam3
Posted 12 April 2006 at 04:14 am

Evil thinking? I don't want to side with Bucky nor am I by any means an animal hater, yet it seems to me that the decision to use dogs as weapons was hardly an idea of a deranged mind obsessed with killing animals. Think of what would you do for sheer survival. And avoid Ad Hominem, please.


Josh Harding
Posted 12 April 2006 at 05:10 am

1c3d0g said: "As a dog lover, it saddens me to read about the atrocities mankind have done to the poor animals. Too bad scumbags like Bucky have to make retarded comments like that, which goes to show that this evil thinking is still prevalent and hasn't been wiped out (yet)."

In actuality, the dogs used were treated as soldiers of the Red Army. They were given rations (better than normal soldiers in the beginning), were kept from mistreatment (soldiers mistreating service dogs were severly punished), and even received commendations for valor in battle. They were not only used as mines, but as messengers, medics, saboteurs, and anti-sabotuers (they helped in disarming over 4 million mines and explosive devices).


Heeter
Posted 12 April 2006 at 05:34 am

Josh Harding said: "In actuality, the dogs used were treated as soldiers of the Red Army. They were given rations (better than normal soldiers in the beginning), were kept from mistreatment (soldiers mistreating service dogs were severly punished), and even received commendations for valor in battle. They were not only used as mines, but as messengers, medics, saboteurs, and anti-sabotuers (they helped in disarming over 4 million mines and explosive devices)."

Treated as soldiers except for the whole "strap a bomb to them and have them run around to blow up tanks" thing.


Bucky
Posted 12 April 2006 at 06:16 am

1c3d0g: Here's a little reading for you. I recently had to put down my own dog, George, and that was harrowing enough for me. I can't believe you took my first comment seriously.

On another note, I've noticed this blog often has really funny and appropriate pictures. I wish the sources were cited, however. Is this an actual photo of a dog in training, or is it just a photo-manipulation?


Bucky
Posted 12 April 2006 at 06:19 am

My mistake! I just saw the picture in the Wikipedia article. The scale of the tank compared to the dog is just amazing.


Jason Bellows
Posted 12 April 2006 at 07:18 am

Heeter said: "Treated as soldiers except for the whole "strap a bomb to them and have them run around to blow up tanks" thing."

I think they did that to their soldiers too ... or near enough. To parapharse the rule: "Advance and be killed by the enemy or retreat and be killed by your statesmen."


Joshua
Posted 12 April 2006 at 07:19 am

Dogs as suicide bombers? I'm amazed that al Qaeda, Hamas et al haven't picked up on this idea or something similar.


Josh Harding
Posted 12 April 2006 at 08:43 am

Heeter said: "Treated as soldiers except for the whole "strap a bomb to them and have them run around to blow up tanks" thing."

Initially, the dogs were trained to remove the saddle in order to destroy stuff (this mostly done by the dog saboteurs, not the dog mines), but since the dogs were climbing under the tanks anyway, thier chances of survival were near zero anyway.


duffbeer703
Posted 12 April 2006 at 09:40 am

Heeter said: "Treated as soldiers except for the whole "strap a bomb to them and have them run around to blow up tanks" thing."

I take it you aren't too aware of how armies work. In early WW2, the Soviets didn't have enough rifles, so 1/3 to 1/2 of the infantry were thrown into battle unarmed and expected to scavenge weapons from the dead. Even today US troops patrol highways daily which are littered with explosive devices and mines.

Its amazing that some idiots will cry and moan over an animal yet shrug over the horrible privations that humans are forced to endure.


Ironclaw
Posted 12 April 2006 at 10:12 am

Dog Mines.. that my pet reference for the "treats" my dog leaves for me in my backyard..


Stuart
Posted 12 April 2006 at 10:48 am

Given the huge loss of life on both sides on the Eastern front I can't really feel too sad about the death of animals. In a perfect world I wouldn't want any person or animal to die in war but when the total death toll of WW2 is about 62million people I think to mourn dogs just reflects the bizarre attitude people seem to have for animals. When I see appeals for donations for animal charities I just think that with all the suffering prevelant in billions of people that it is strange that anyone can actually put the life of a stray animal before a humans. I even heard they had to cut a scene out of Jurassic Park 2 where the t-rex eats a dog because it got so many complaints from animal rights groups. People getting ripped apart by dinosuars though, thats fine.


camilos
Posted 12 April 2006 at 11:49 am

Stuart, I understand your point of view, but the problem is that we humans are the ones who start wars and commit attrocities. Not animals. So why should it be ok to involve them in our wars? And to say that we shouldn't care about animals because there is enough human suffering in the world, is a bit off. Just because animals don't have our mental capacity does not mean they don't deserve our compassion and care.

Great Article.


Haywood Jablome
Posted 12 April 2006 at 12:21 pm

Well, I like animals too. I don't agree with killing them for the hell of it. But if a Nazi Blitzkrieg was coming my way and the only thing i had was a dog and a bomb, I would have to send the dog bomb in first. I mean, the dog would be dying for the sake of its country. Just like the soldiers. ruff ruff!


Heeter
Posted 12 April 2006 at 12:56 pm

duffbeer703 said: "I take it you aren't too aware of how armies work. In early WW2, the Soviets didn't have enough rifles, so 1/3 to 1/2 of the infantry were thrown into battle unarmed and expected to scavenge weapons from the dead. Even today US troops patrol highways daily which are littered with explosive devices and mines.


Its amazing that some idiots will cry and moan over an animal yet shrug over the horrible privations that humans are forced to endure."

You take it wrong, and read camilos' response for a better worded response than mine would have been.


skwigul
Posted 12 April 2006 at 01:30 pm

Better to use the dogs to blow up tanks than than to teach them to be mimes.


1c3d0g
Posted 12 April 2006 at 03:02 pm

Bucky: congratulations. Nice spin on an otherwise seriously toned sentence (no smilies, no *cough*)...come on man, you should know better than that. Good try though, maybe next time your "joke" will come out better.

n1cknam3: thanks for completely missing my point. Read Camilos post thoroughly to understand what I mean.

Camilos, Heeter: well fucking said. Thank you for sharing your views.


Sandra Thurston
Posted 12 April 2006 at 03:18 pm

Man, this thing is getting hotter by the second!


Oax
Posted 12 April 2006 at 07:42 pm

A couple years ago in Iraq, the opposition was using donkeys as unwitting suicide bombers. PETA was all over that. As I've said before, I'm a member of PETA. People Eating Tasty Animals.


mHagarty
Posted 13 April 2006 at 04:29 am

I'm very compassionaite for the plight of the pups, but for gods sake, when we're talking about a war involving the mass slaughter of Jews, people of color, and homosexuals on TOP of the mind numbing amounts of conscripts slaughtered on the front lines, we don't need to get up in arms about the fucking dogs.

Although, I'm a letter carrier for Canada Post, so I may be biased.


Stuart
Posted 13 April 2006 at 07:57 am

I'm sorry but the remark "we humans are the ones who start wars and commit attrocities. Not animals. So why should it be ok to involve them in our wars?" is just daft. Animals don't have wars because they don't have the intelligence to organise themselves into an army and build weapons. And if they could, do you really think humans would be left out of it? If you've ever seen dogs fightin you'll know that they don't stop for whatever gets in their way, be it another dog (who'll prob join in), a person (who'll have a nicely shredded leg) or a child (who'd be lucky not to be mauled to death). Charging animals will pretty much plough into whatevers ahead of them. It unlikely that they'd bother to consider the feelings of whoever they where braining with their hooves. And if you class a war as the systematic wiping out of a rival then ants readily exterminate hundreds of thousands of termites in mass attacks. If you lie in the war path of a marching army of ants i'm pretty sure some of them will bite you. And I doubt there'd be an ant-based relief effort for all your ant bites.


g33k
Posted 13 April 2006 at 11:33 am

> we humans are the ones who start wars and commit attrocities. Not animals. So why should it be ok to involve them in our wars?

While I understand your logic, follow it further - high-level politicians are the ones who start wars - why should it be okay to involve regular citizens in their wars?


shanachie
Posted 13 April 2006 at 01:32 pm

we humans are the ones who start wars and commit attrocities. Not animals.

Dogs hunt in packs, and for sport. Primitive warfare, I'd say. They'd have blitzkreigs if they could.

And I love dogs.


Prince
Posted 13 April 2006 at 05:52 pm

yea, what do the hell do you mean "we humans are the ones who start wars"? what, me? I've never started a war in my life.


SneezeWhiz
Posted 14 April 2006 at 07:02 am

Bucky said: "1c3d0g: Here's a little reading for you. I recently had to put down my own dog, George, and that was harrowing enough for me. I can't believe you took my first comment seriously.


On another note, I've noticed this blog often has really funny and appropriate pictures. I wish the sources were cited, however. Is this an actual photo of a dog in training, or is it just a photo-manipulation?"

Probably in training. The tank in the photo looks like a Russian tank.


myname
Posted 14 April 2006 at 01:34 pm

Havoc!


Redleg
Posted 15 April 2006 at 04:24 pm

To anyone who thinks that strapping bombs to dogs is particularly cruel, I would strongly advise not looking into anything else that the Soviets did under Stalin.


CanadianNate
Posted 17 April 2006 at 07:22 pm

Hey, the dogs you could have in that old playstation game "command and conquer: Red Alert" were pretty effective...against personnel. tanks just ran 'em over. Squish!


klarre
Posted 18 April 2006 at 12:10 pm

Just like kids, animals (other than humans) ignorance makes them innocent. If saying they had the same intelligence as a human they would no longer be like the other animals (they would be like us) and they should have had this discussion (assuming they had the same intelligence). Quite irrelevant to assume that infact, and quite strange to use it as an argument for justifying our use of them in this way. They could be using their intelligence to make us fight for them or they could not, but they are not smart ... we are.

I think it is morally wrong to use animals in this way, it is up to us to fight or refuse to do so (what ever politicians say).


cutterjohn
Posted 20 April 2006 at 07:33 pm

War sucks. It is the stupidest pastime humans could have thought of. But, if we have to fight, i have no qualms about using animals as tools to win. I would rather ten thousand innocent animals died horrible and bloody deaths than one of our soldiers. I know that sounds macabre, but thats how i feel.

They may not understand war, but if they can do the job, the job should be given to them. We kill animals every day for far less meaningful results.. If they have to die, then i can think of no better purpose than by dying to save peoples lives.

Doomsdaydevicedriver said: "Now isn't that what the Navy does with dolphins? Or did I watch too much TV?"

The navy uses dolphins and seals for mine detection and to find swimmers in the water. They do exceedingly well at it too.


remote_pigeon
Posted 21 April 2006 at 05:33 am

g33k said: "> we humans are the ones who start wars and commit attrocities. Not animals. So why should it be ok to involve them in our wars?


While I understand your logic, follow it further - high-level politicians are the ones who start wars - why should it be okay to involve regular citizens in their wars?"

yeah, the world leaders should be locked in a room with a stick each and bum each other


mercyonme
Posted 23 April 2006 at 12:22 am

klarre said: "I think it is morally wrong to use animals in this way, it is up to us to fight or refuse to do so (what ever politicians say)."

Does anyone else remember the bits in "All Quite on the Western Front" about the corpse rats, the ones that got fat eating dead people? Don't tell me animals have never benefited from war.


sherashi
Posted 04 May 2006 at 12:05 pm

I'm not for blowing anyone up, dog or human....but to take those feelings and then act like nature is pristine and innocent is just ill informed. Are you aware that male dolphins requently gang rape female dolphins? Are you aware of the wasps that inject their eggs into spiders? The larva(?) that hatch then eat the spider alive from the inside out in such a way as to keep it alive and aware as long as possible? Yeah, wars suck, but nature isn't pristine and fluffy-bunny-let's-hold-hands-and-sing-"we are the world." Nature is as sick and twisted and disturbing as humans can be.


Lenny_the_Dog
Posted 06 June 2006 at 01:51 am

There's an entire overview of animals in combat over at http://www.AnimalReviews.com (follow the link on the RHS of the frontpage) - plenty of cool stuff about elephants and bomb carrying pigeons!


ChickenHead
Posted 14 July 2006 at 04:19 pm

I'm amazed that with all the TLC and History Channel buffs that seem to frequent this site that no one has yet mentioned (the US created) Bat Bomb.


Hugh G. Rection
Posted 10 December 2006 at 05:24 am

finally dogs are put to good use.


WhyIHatePeople
Posted 22 July 2007 at 10:22 pm

Hugh G. Rection said: "finally dogs are put to good use."

You my friend are a DICK!


WhyIHatePeople
Posted 22 July 2007 at 10:38 pm

I think they should've strapped explosives on the families... of the dog haters that post on here, because you my friends are sick people and your stupid comments are the reason why I hate people. Now make like a good human and Shoot... yourself!!


WhyIHatePeople
Posted 22 July 2007 at 10:44 pm

sherashi said: "I'm not for blowing anyone up, dog or human….but to take those feelings and then act like nature is pristine and innocent is just ill informed. Are you aware that male dolphins requently gang rape female dolphins? Are you aware of the wasps that inject their eggs into spiders? The larva(?) that hatch then eat the spider alive from the inside out in such a way as to keep it alive and aware as long as possible? Yeah, wars suck, but nature isn't pristine and fluffy-bunny-let's-hold-hands-and-sing-"we are the world." Nature is as sick and twisted and disturbing as humans can be."

No! your the one that is sick and twisted and you are disturbing me!!


WhyIHatePeople
Posted 22 July 2007 at 10:54 pm

Bucky said: "Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing an explosive device strapped to one of those little yappy dogs."

Hey Bucky! I wouldn't mind watching one of those little yappy dogs rip your Balls! Out

!, you sick excuse for a human.


abecker1313
Posted 25 February 2008 at 11:45 am

I'm an animal lover but i am for this. If i could sacrifice the family dog to save the family then it looks like after an apology that just wont cut it and a heartfelt goodbye i'd have to send him on his way. Not something i'm very happy about but war is an ultimatum.


Глеб
Posted 14 April 2013 at 06:24 pm

The Russians are The Great!


Stephen Pugh
Posted 28 February 2014 at 01:27 pm

white_matter said: "Pretty smart if not amazingly cruel.

I was in the Army and deployed to Baghdad International Airport. Every vehicle that came through the gate had to be searched top to bottom, inside and out (the same for the passangers as well). Animals on the other hand came and went. I remember thinking one day, "Wow, what a great place to put a bomb...".
Yikes!"

That's so funny I forgot to laugh!


Drew
Posted 12 June 2014 at 03:56 pm

Stuart: "I'm sorry but the remark "we humans are the ones who start wars and commit attrocities. Not animals. So why should it be ok to involve them in our wars?" is just daft. Animals don't have wars because they don't have the intelligence to organise themselves into an army and build weapons. And if they could, do you really think humans would be left out of it? If you've ever seen dogs fightin you'll know that they don't stop for whatever gets in their way, be it another dog (who'll prob join in), a person (who'll have a nicely shredded leg) or a child (who'd be lucky not to be mauled to death). Charging animals will pretty much plough into whatevers ahead of them. It unlikely that they'd bother to consider the feelings of whoever they where braining with their hooves."

No stuart, yours is the daft comment. It makes no sense really. An animal who does not stop for a human who is in the way of an animal fight is not the same as strapping bombs to animals to aid in a human fight. What you mention would be similar to an animal happening to get blown up or shot accidntally in human war. What we are discussing here is seking out animals to participate (and almost certainly be killed) in a human fight. A pretty important distinction.

I know the article is old. Just my 2 cents.


END OF COMMENTS
Add Your Comment

Note: Your email address will not be published, shared, spammed, or otherwise mishandled. Anonymous comments are more likely to be held for moderation. You can optionally register or login.

You may use basic formatting HTML such as <i>, <b>, and <blockquote>.