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K-9 Veterans Day

Mar 13, 2023 | Holidays


5 Famous Dogs in the Military


The military is known for its powerful soldiers, but in addition to humans, it also has some incredible K-9 heroes. These dogs have greatly impacted our country and history—and they deserve to be recognized. In honor of K-9 Veterans Day, let’s take a look at five working dogs in the military that did some amazing and brave things in the line of duty:

  1. Sergeant Stubby: Sgt. Stubby was the most decorated dog in American military history. Corporal James Robert Conroy adopted the stray terrier mix. When World War I service beckoned, he couldn’t leave Stubby behind, so when he joined the 102nd Infantry, 26th Yankee Division in 1917, during World War I, the dog became a stowaway. Eventually, Stubby became the unofficial mascot of the division. He was the first dog to ever receive rank and medals for his service in the U.S. He was promoted to Sergeant by President Theodore Roosevelt, earning three medals for valor, including one from France. The brave dog soldier suffered shrapnel and mustard gas injuries but eventually recovered. Sgt. Stubby continued to serve with the 102nd Infantry until it was demobilized after WWI ended on November 11, 1918. He then lived with Corporal Conroy at the Georgetown Law School in Washington, D.C. Amusingly, he would bark wildly whenever someone mentioned Germans. Sgt Stubby crossed the Rainbow Bridge in 1926, drawing a half-page obituary in the prestigious New York Times.
  2. Rocky, a Military Working Dog: A German Shepherd named Rocky was a military working dog in Afghanistan. He served with the U.S. Army as part of the Special Forces unit Team 22. Rocky and his handler, Specialist Andrew Brown, were awarded Purple Hearts after being severely wounded by an IED explosion while on patrol in Kandahar Province. After Rocky’s recovery, he returned to active duty and continued to work until he retired in 2014 at age 10 (the average lifespan for a German Shepherd is 10-12 years).
  3. Corporal Max N242 The Brave Bomb-Sniffing K-9 Veteran: Max N242 was a Labrador Retriever that served as a bomb-sniffing dog in the United States Air Force. He was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, where he helped to detect and defuse roadside bombs and other explosive devices. Max was known for his courage and determination, and saved countless lives during his service, and enjoyed a well-deserved retirement.
  4. Bretagne: The K-9 Hero of the 9/11 Attacks: Bretagne was a 2-year-old Golden Retriever who served as a search and rescue dog during the 9/11 attacks. She was one of the first dogs on the scene and worked tirelessly to locate survivors in the rubble, but to no avail. Her courage and determination made her a recognizable symbol of search and recovery, and she was honored with a medal for her service. Bretagne and her handler searched for Hurricane Katrina victims and worked on many other disasters. Once Bretagne retired from active service, she volunteered as a reading assistance dog for elementary school children. 
  5. Lucca: The K-9 Warrior of the War on Terror: Lucca was a Belgian Malinois/German Shepherd mix who served as a military working dog in the War on Terror. She was trained to detect and locate hidden explosives under bridges and buildings by sniffing out their chemical signatures. Lucca deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan with different handlers each time, on missions with the combat Marines and Special Forces. According to the Military Working Dog Team Support Association, Lucca is among the most legendary military working dogs. Through almost six years of military service, Lucca went on more than 400 missions and has 40 confirmed finds of explosives, saving countless lives. 


These five K-9 veterans represent just a tiny fraction of the many dogs and other animals who have served and continue to serve in our military and law enforcement agencies. These brave canines have made incredible contributions to our nation and will always be remembered for their service and sacrifice.


Honorable Mention: Patron the bomb-sniffing dog — and his owner, Mykhailo Iliev of the Civil Protection Service. The two work together to neutralize mines and missiles left by Russian forces.

In 2022, Patron received a medal from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. 


Did you know? Arizona has a memorial to K-9 veterans. 

Naval Special Warfare K-9 Memorial


Learn more about the Dogs of War


Disclaimer: Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.