5 Unforgettable Famous Military Dogs

Cuteness Explosion By Alex J. Coyne 3 min read November 2, 2020

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rin tin tin

Dogs have been long-since employed for their usefulness in times of war or disaster; but did you know that service dogs are generally one rank above their human counterparts?

This, apparently, is to make sure that soldiers will always respect and honor their military dogs. As high ranking officers, military dogs get a certain degree of protection against abuse – any mistreatment would result in serious disciplinary action.

Dogs have a long and interesting history supporting the military, and today we’re celebrating some of the most well-known, famous military, police, and service dogs.

1. Rin Tin Tin

rin tin tin

Rin Tin Tin was a German Shepherd discovered on the battlefield by soldier Lee Duncan, and he might top the list of most prolific dogs to ever grace the silver screen: Yes, this one tops even Lassie.  He starred in a total of thirty movies, including Where the North Begins (1923), The Lightning Warrior (1931) and The Law of the Wild (1934).

Some might have heard of The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, which ran from 1954 to 1959. Yes, the Rin-Tin-Tin in the television series is, in fact, directly descended from the original Rin-Tin-Tin mentioned all the way up there.

According to an article on the Psychology Today blog, his fame stretched far enough for him to become listed in the Los Angeles Phone Directory.

His line continues today in the form of A Rinty for Kids Foundation, an organisation providing service dogs to children at no charge. More information about the foundation can be found here.

Find more information about the book on Rin Tin Tin’s life and times, written by author Susan Orlean, at the official website for the book, here.

2. Kye

kye famous police dog
image from Washington Times

Kye was another German shepherd who worked closely with the police force, notable for having received a funeral will full honors where hundreds of dog handlers and their four-legged friends came to pay their respects.

Kye had been unfortunately killed in a stabbing incident on August 24th 2014, and his role in the Oklahoma City police force was undeniable.

3. Zanjeer

The March 1993 Mumbai bombings shook the world and left behind a toll of 257 people dead and 1, 400 injured. In the middle of it all, there was a Labrador known as Zanjeer – meaning ‘chain’ in Hindi and named for the Hindi movie of the same name.  Zanjeer had saved countless lives, and had detected around 600 detonators and almost 6, 500 rounds of ammunition – added to a reported 3, 329 kg of explosive material.

Zanjeer passed away on the 16th of November 2000 from bone cancer and received a state funeral.

4. Chips

Almost more has been written about the Collie, German Shepherd and Siberian Husky mixture Chips than there ever has about Lassie. Chips is known as the most decorated dog of World War II, and was ‘discovered’ when the army realized the usefulness of dogs to the force and put out a call for people to send their dogs, well, off to war.

Would you have volunteered yours? Edward J. Wren (from Pleasantville, NY) thought, for some or other reason, “Sure!” Chips’ subsequent military exploits took him literally all over the world, including places like North Africa and Sicily.  If you’re into corny movies

Also, if you’re into really corny movies, he was the subject of a little-known made for TV movie called Chips, the War Dog (1990).

5. Sergeant Stubby

sgt stubby

One war back, there was Sergeant Stubby, a pit bull terrier who is considered the most decorated dog of the first World War. He is soon to be the topic of an upcoming animated film, and his awards included the Purple Heart, Republic of France Grande War Medal and the New Haven WW1 Veterans Medal.

He was first adopted by a soldier named John Robert Conroy, and it would seem that the other soldiers liked him so much that he stuck around. It didn’t take long before Stubby became the official mascot of the American Expeditionary Force. His jobs included finding wounded soldiers on the battle-field, and he eventually developed the uncanny talent of barking at soldiers to warn them of incoming mustard gas – he was, of course, issued with his own gas mask for this job.

He died in 1926 and was presented to the Smithsonian Institute in 1956.

Can you tell us more about any other famous service dogs?

If you’re looking for some awesome doggos to name your own pup after, make sure to also check out our list of famous dog name ideas!

This article was written by freelance writer Alex J Coyne.

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Written by

Alex J. Coyne

Alex J. Coyne is a freelance journalist with eight years’ experience writing for publications like People Magazine, Re:Fiction, Great Bridge Links and NB Publishers. Sometimes, his three dogs take him for walks around the neighborhood; they offer helpful feedback on his work and
offer little to no comment on his singing.


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