Just as the Navy SEALS and other elite special forces are the sharp point of the American military machine, so too are their dogs at the top of a canine military hierarchy. In all, the U.S. military currently has about 2,800 active-duty dogs deployed around the world.
Navy SEAL dogs, or SEAL dogs for short, have been used extensively in various missions carried out by the U.S. Navy SEAL teams. These dogs are highly trained to perform a wide range of tasks, including search and rescue, tracking, explosives detection, and more.
A man’s best friend is also a Navy SEAL’s best friend. SEAL teams have often utilized animals from Dolphins to K9’s. Most canines used by the elite special forces branch are Belgian Malinois. A slightly smaller, lighter and faster cousin of the German Shepard. Both dogs have high intelligence.
While German Shepherds are still used in military units, the Belgian Malinois is much easier to take on missions because of their size, allowing Navy SEALs to carry them everywhere.
SEAL Dogs will also skydive on a mission. Their handler will strap the SEAL dog to their chest or let them fly solo.
Like their human counterparts, the dog SEALs are highly trained, highly skilled, highly motivated special ops experts, able to perform extraordinary military missions by Sea, Air and Land (thus the acronym).
The dogs carry out a wide range of specialized duties for the military teams to which they are attached.
With a sense of smell 40 times greater than a human’s, the dogs are trained to detect and identify both explosive material and hostile or hiding humans.
SEAL Dogs can be equipped with Video Cameras and other recording devices. They small size and skill sets combined with senses allow them to reach areas SEALs can’t on missions.
Like human SEALS, the training the dogs go through is intensive and arduous; only 1% of dog candidates graduate. They must learn how to ignore their instincts and follow the orders of their handlers. There must be a complete sense of trust between the two.
Training between the handler and the dog can be upwards of 15 hours a day. Some of the abilities the dogs must have are:
- Swimming a distance that takes them to where they can no longer see the shore.
- Being comfortable around gunfire
- Showing they are mentally capable of their job (yes; just like the human SEALS, the dogs must have a high level of mental toughness and psychological stability)
- Navigating through combat environments
- Being comfortable jumping out of planes for a mission—either on their own, or strapped to the chest of their handler
Some of the military missions in which SEAL dogs have been involved include:
Operation Neptune Spear: In 2011, a SEAL team used a dog named Cairo to help take down Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Cairo was trained to detect explosives and was used to sweep the compound where bin Laden was hiding.
Operation Iraqi Freedom: SEAL dogs were deployed to Iraq to assist with bomb detection and other missions.
Operation Enduring Freedom: SEAL dogs were also used in Afghanistan to detect improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and to track down insurgents.
Operation Red Wings: In 2005, a SEAL team used a dog named Remco during a mission in Afghanistan. Remco was killed in action, but his bravery and sacrifice were honored with a posthumous award.
Training and support: In addition to combat missions, SEAL dogs are also used for training and support roles, such as helping to train new handlers and assisting with security and patrol duties.
Overall, SEAL dogs play a critical role in supporting the missions of the Navy SEAL teams and are highly valued for their unique abilities and skills.
NavySEALs.com, Dogs of the Navy SEALS
Business Insider, Why the Dogs Of the Navy Seals Are a Force To Be Reckoned With, Jeremy Bender
Question: What is a good book about these type of special dogs?
Answer: We like the book Navy SEAL Dogs: My Tale of Training Canines for Combat by Mike Ritland.
Question: Where can I find out more information about joining the Navy SEAL teams?
Answer: Check out the SEAL/SWCC main website.