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Anti-tank Dogs of The Soviet Union

During World War II, the Russian army used dogs to carry explosives to disable German tanks. The dogs were trained for such missions between 1930 to 1996.
If you are an animal lover, you may find this article disturbing and cruel.

During World War II, the Russian army used dogs to carry explosives to disable German tanks. The dogs were trained for such missions between 1930 to 1996.

Initially dogs were trained to release a bomb(attached with a special pouch) set with a time delay. After  releasing the bomb it would return to its handlers. However, this routine failed miserably when the dogs under real stress of the battlefield did not release the bomb with its teeth but often return to its handlers with the time delayed bomb. That resulted in many Soviet soldiers getting killed and wounded. Even the smartest dog could not master releasing the bomb attached to it.

Between 1941-1942, no efforts were spared by the Soviet army to stop the advance of the Germans in the Eastern Front. A new method called impact detonation was developed. This time a 10-12kg mine was wrapped around the dog. When the dog goes under the belly of a German tank, a wooden lever would be trigger the mine. This would detonate the mine and kill the dog in the process. The chassis of the tank was believed to be the most weakest part of a tank. The first badge of 30 anti tanks dogs were deployed in the end of summer of 1941.

Confusion

Even with the new method, the anti tank dogs often became confused when their targets were moving. These animals were trained using static targets and most dogs ended up getting shot as they were waiting for their targets to stop.

It was also discovered that the dogs were trained to go under Soviet tanks which were running on diesel. The German tanks were running on gasoline and the dogs were not familiar with the smell. The sound of weapon fire also scared the dogs into running back to its handlers. The dogs would once again jump back into the  Russian trenches to its handlers and trigger the mine. When such cases happen, the handlers had to shoot the returning dog before it reaches them.

No one really knows how effective anti tank dogs were but the Soviet army claimed that 300 German tanks were taken out by using them. After 1942 the use of anti tank dogs declined rapidly and dogs were redirected for mine detecting and delivery purposes. The training of anti-tank dogs however continued until 1996.

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  1. Belle Dob

    On March 5, 2010 at 5:13 pm


    That’s pretty smart of them to make use of dogs like that. It’s kind of like the rats they train in Columbia to sniff out landmines.

  2. diamondpoet

    On March 5, 2010 at 5:17 pm


    So the germans had no regards for man nor beast, good article. That was a dangerous job and dogs are very brave animals. good post.

  3. RS Wing

    On March 5, 2010 at 5:26 pm


    Man’s best friend on every level. They are soldiers too, when needed for such dangerous necessity. Great article and a great slice of history!

  4. RS Wing

    On March 5, 2010 at 5:27 pm


    Man\’s best friend on every level. They are soldiers too, when needed for such dangerous necessity. Great article and a great slice of history!

  5. sloanie

    On March 5, 2010 at 5:31 pm


    I never knew about this, thanks for the excellent read.

  6. 8Shei8

    On March 5, 2010 at 6:27 pm


    Rather fascinating history although I am not surprised. Humans have been using animals for many things. Great article!

  7. Val Mills

    On March 5, 2010 at 8:34 pm


    A really interesting story, thank you. Whilst the thought of it is horrific, it helps us to understand some of the more personal stories of war.

  8. Videomark

    On March 5, 2010 at 10:28 pm


    It was a terrible thing to do, but on the other hand the existence of entire countries was at stake.

  9. edynperu

    On March 6, 2010 at 7:51 am


    great article

  10. MartineP

    On March 6, 2010 at 7:57 am


    Animal welfare means nothing in times of war when even human welfare means nothing. Many animals died during those days, because the lack of respect humans have for each other. I do feel for those dogs and it proofs the Sovjets had not much knowledge on training them and the equipement of the Germans.

  11. J J Neuman

    On March 6, 2010 at 6:09 pm


    I had no idea about this but it doesn’t suprise me. The Russians lost 20 milliion people in WW2. Although I love dogs, I see why they did it if they could save people and distroy the Germans. Great article, Shaif.

  12. Starpisces

    On March 6, 2010 at 10:08 pm


    Great article shared, though cruel, but they are facts.
    As far as war concerned, there will be bloodshed, sacrifices, including the lives of human being and animals.
    I always dream of war time, I believe I was ever sacrified during that time (but as human beings)
    I hereby pray:
    PEACE NO WAR!

  13. standingproud

    On March 7, 2010 at 8:58 am


    Yes I knew of this, just awful…

    all the same is good to be reminded of the actions of others Good or so wrong.

  14. sambhafusia

    On March 7, 2010 at 1:48 pm


    great share..thanks for that

  15. deep blue

    On March 7, 2010 at 1:58 pm


    Maybe that was the idea behind the “dogs of war” catch phrase. A compelling post, Sharif.

  16. AlmaG

    On March 8, 2010 at 7:20 am


    This is new to me. Dogs seems to be a military’s bestfriend :)

  17. Authoress Terry E. Lyle

    On March 8, 2010 at 4:27 pm


    Quite the interesting story to read however unnecessary or not do anyone care about bloodshed human or animal? And we are still fighting today, so what have we gained. War is definitely brutal on many levels.

  18. William J Felchner

    On March 9, 2010 at 4:24 pm


    Yes, very interersting. Dogs are and were used by the American military, though not as kamikaze canines. Frederick Forsyth wrote a novel titled The Dogs of War, but the dogs in this case referred to British mercenaries.

  19. Ruby Hawk

    On March 9, 2010 at 9:27 pm


    It sounds like it was as dangerous to the soldiers as the dogs. It seems a waste of dog and man power.

  20. Citra Florenca

    On March 10, 2010 at 4:30 am


    However, this routine failed miserably when the dogs under real stress of the battlefield did not release the bomb with its teeth but often return to its handlers with the time delayed bomb. That resulted in many Soviet soldiers getting killed and wounded.

    LOL, we Indonesians call it “senjata makan tuan”

    Great historical piece!

  21. XXElleXX

    On March 10, 2010 at 5:30 am


    Had no knowledge of this sort of warfare…and I have Russian ancestry Sharif…cruel yes…necessary…debatable. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just push a button and blow our enemies sky high…end of story. It’s like this bud…the Russians had no real ‘ammo’ in those days to make any real impact…if it meant hundreds of thousands of lives would be saved…the dogs and their handlers are the heros. I only hope these canines were acknowledged for same ~ very good Sharif Ishnin :-)

  22. Katien

    On March 10, 2010 at 7:22 am


    Very sad, but understandable. Human beings seem to go to any lengths in times or war.

  23. devsir

    On March 10, 2010 at 7:26 am


    Nice informative article

  24. SharifaMcFarlane

    On March 11, 2010 at 11:08 pm


    It`s sad, just like the humans who go in to be shot and killed.
    Sometimes we sacrifice a lot in our effort to keep the enemy at bay.

  25. swatilohani

    On March 12, 2010 at 4:55 am


    excellent

  26. Dreyan

    On March 12, 2010 at 5:13 pm


    I knew there was a reason I liked RPG’s so much.

  27. athena goodlight

    On March 23, 2010 at 6:54 pm


    A fine lesson in history and heroism. Thumbs up!

  28. zoeyclark

    On April 1, 2010 at 4:45 pm


    OK, this is downright cruel. War is obviously violent and even though it is sometimes unavoidable, you don’t need to kill other live beings as well. I don’t find these soldiers clever.

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