The United States War Dogs Association
"Dogs For Defense"
January, 1942, not long after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the American Kennel Association and a new group
calling itself "Dogs for Defense" mobilized dog owners across the country to donate quality animals to the Army's Quartermaster
Outstanding among the leaders of this movement were Mrs. Milton Erlanger, prominent dog breeder and exhibitor;
Arthur Kilbon, dog columist for the New York Sun; Len Brumby, head of the Professional Dog Handlers Assoc.; and Harry I. Caesar,
who was elected president of the newy formed organization.
Dogs For Defense was designed to serve as a clearing house for coordinating the various attempts to develop interest
in a sentry dog program for the United States. Funds to finance the group were obtained through member clubs of the American
Kennel Club; and by donations from individual financiers.
The animals were to be acquired by donation from a patriotic
public and trained, at kennels under the supervision of Dogs For Defense and distriibuted for use, where they were most needed.
The country was divided into Regional offices, that were to conduct most of the work actually required in connect- ion with
procurement and training.
Types of Dogs Used.
In 1942 and 1943, when practically all of the dogs were trained to perform the comparatively simple
tasks involved in sentry duty more than thirty breeds of both sexes were considered suitable for military service.
revealed, however, that even for sentry duty some breeds were just unsatisfactory. Among these were the Great Danes, whose
large size made them difficult to train, and also hunting dog breeds in general because they were too easily distracted by
By the fall of 1944 the number of preferred breeds had been reduced to seven: German Shepherds,
Belgian sheep dogs, Doberman Pinschers, collies, Siberian Huskies, Malamutes and Eskimo dogs. Mixed crosses of these breeds
also were acceptable.
Alaskan Malamute: Polar regions knew him well as one of the old- est and best of the sled
breeds, with fine large "snow shoe" type feet, endowed with thick pads and abundant hair to cushion between the toes.
Sheep Dog: Thousands of these alert and loyal dogs were trained as messengers in the First World War, and many were killed
in action. He is the "Dog of Flanders," in Quida's novel.
Collies: His traits were speed, alertness, endurance
and tractability. The British made frequent use of him as a war dog. In general, the so called farm type without to long a
coat was preferred.
Doberman Pinscher: Originally bred in Germany as a police and war dog, he possessed nervous
energy, speed, power, keen nose, tractability and exceptional agility. This breed was favored by the Marine Corp.
Another of the great sled breeds. An Eskimo could haul from one and a half to double its body weight; and average from twenty
to thirty miles daily on long trips.
German Shepherd: He had the look of the wolf, probably an older ancestor.
One of the great German breeds, he shepherded the flocks of those early Germanic tribes, the Cimbri and Teutoni. The breed
is said to have been launched on its popularity in the United States by the number of German Shepherds brought back by veterans
of the First World War. His keen nose, power, courage and other war dog qualities would finally make him preeminent of the
Siberian Husky: Another sled dog breed, with feet well adapted for traction over ice and snow;
along with speed, endurance and ability to work in a team.
At the beginning of the program, dogs of acceptable breeds from one to five years old were taken. It was soon found that
dogs of five years were to old to begin their training, so the maximum procurement age was lowered first to three and one
half years and then to two in the fall of 1944 when most of the dogs were being trained for tactical service.
The Doberman Pinscher Club
Dogs For Defense wasn't the only organization recruiting dogs for the armed
services, in 1942 the Doberman Pinscher Club of America was formally approached to procure Dobes for the newly formed Marine
Corps War Dog Training Facility at Camp LeJeune, New River, North Carolina.
Sydney A. Moss, President of the DPCA,
agreed to assist in the procurement of the Dobermans, and Richard C. Webster, DPCA, Baltimore, Maryland, headed the recruiting
committee. He divided the country into sixteen procurement areas to facilitate enlistment. DPCA members spent their own time
and money to screen applicant dogs for the Marine Corps.
The recruitment was done amongst the Dobe owners in the country who were asked to "volunteer"
their dogs. Owners were told that their Dobes would be returned to them if they failed to meet the Marines' standards or at
the end of their "enlistment" tour of service.
The Marine dogs were named "Devildogs," a name, that the Marines earned
during WWI, fighting against the Germans. However, Dobermans weren't the only breed that the Marines used; but since the DPCA
was recruiting for them, the initial emphasis was placed on that breed. There were also Labs, German Shepherds and other breeds,
that were obtained from the Army's Quartermaster Corps. Actually towards the end of the war, German Shepherds replaced the
Dobermans, as the preferred breed. (Hahn's 50th AP K-9, West German)