A Special Presentation From Hahn's 50th AP K-9, West Germany


341st TRS, Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas

341st Training Squadron


The executive agent for the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Program is the United States Air Force.

Today the 341st Training Squadron, Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, has the mission of operating this program for the Air Force.

The 341st Training Squadron is responsible for procuring and assigning all dogs for the MWD program and for shipping them to military installations worldwide following training.

More than 125 Army, Navy, Marine corps and Air Force personnel conduct training courses for dogs and handlers for all branches of the Department of Defense and other federal agencies.

Civilian police officers are trained as explosive detector dog handlers for the Department of Transportation. These highly specialized teams support the Federal Aviation Administration at more than 30 major airports throughout the country.

The MWD training environment consists of 62 training areas, encompassing over 3,350 acres, 691 kennel spaces and an average population of over 400 dogs located at Lackland AFB and the Lackland Training Annex, San Antonio, Texas.

US: Air Force, Navy, Army and Marine K-9 Teams!

Operation Center.

Lackland manages the tasking of 1,394 Air Force, Navy, Army and Marine Corp's Military Working Dogs world wide.

On a single day, as many as 108 dogs may be on assignment. About 8 dog teams are dispatch each day, year round, to assist in the State Department's Dignitary Protection Program.

Also Bomb - Detection dogs assignments, require for the U.S. Secret Service and the State Dept., go through our Operation Center; as well as Drug Detection dogs and handlers for our major air, land and sea ports-of-entry to the United States in a joint counter drug effort with the U.S. Customs Dept. and other federal drug law enforcement agencies.

A number of drug dogs are actually down on the Mexican US border in a training capacity. According to the 341st, there is no other place where dogs are routinely exposed to the odor volume and as large a variety and quantity of drugs as they are on the Mexico and U.S. border. Each major command routinely provides drug dogs for the joint mission.

"Although we can't identify a specific dog team with a specific drug seizure, I will say that a team from Kelly AFB that just returned, made significant finds of drugs along the Mexico and U.S. border," a 341st spokes man explained. He said that U.S. Customs requested a month-long extension for the team because they were so good at finding drugs.

The Air Force alone is authorized 579 dogs, and currently has 477 assigned worldwide.

All military working dogs and handlers are trained at the 341st Training Squadron here, which is fondly called the "Dog School. "

The dog school is projected to train 300 detector dogs this year -- a detector dog is either a bomb or drug detector dog.

Another 96 dogs will be trained for patrol use only. Patrol dogs are trained for scouting, searching and attacking. All Air Force dogs, including detection dogs, are first patrol trained.

Navy Handler & Dutch Shepherd

Breeds of Dogs Used.

Through the years, a number of different breeds have been tested for the MWD program. Currently the German Shepherd, Dutch Shepherd and Belgian Malinois have proven to be the best choice as the standard military working dog.

However other breeds are frequently used based on user requirements and the availability of these breeds. Sporting breeds are used when there is a requirement for dogs to be trained only as drug or explosive detectors.

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd, Duch Shepherd and Belgian Malinois breeds have the best overall combination of keen sense of smell, endurance, speed, strength, courage, intelligence and adaptability to almost any climatic condition.

A dog's world is significantly different from man's. A dog's vision is inferior to man's although it can detect movement, however slight, at greater distances. A dog depends less on visual impressions than on its superior senses of hearing and smell.
Belgian Shepherd

A Shepherd's and Belgian Malinois hearing ability is much better than man's; however, for close examination of its environment, a German Shepherd, Dutch Shepherd and Belgian Malinois rely mostly on their keenest sense smell.

The highly developed senses of hearing and smell, along with a generally superior personality and disposition, make them the most versatile working dog breeds, and the ones best suited for military duties!
Tervuren Belgian Shepherd

Background Of The Basic
Military Working Dog.

Prior to the conflict in Vietnam, nearly all dogs used by the U.S. armed forces were trained as sentry (attack) dogs.

Their function was to detect and attack, on command, all people except the handler and others who helped care for them.

When a transfer of handlers was necessary, it took several weeks for a new handler to gain the sentry dog's trust. Clearly, a dog trained to be more tolerant was needed.

Civilian police dog training provided the answer.

Air Force K-9 Team, Belgian Malinois

In 1966, Lt. Colonel John Cady, a veterinarian, assigned to Headquarers USAF Security Police, initiated the action, that resulted in changing training methods, so that dogs could be used for many other purposes.

It was Cady who made the suggestion to Robin A. Baker, then the Chief of Security Police at Andrews AFB, while on a tour of the Squadron, to send four Air Force sentry dogs through the Metropolitan Police Dog School for patrol dog training.

Major Baker thought Cady suggestion, sounded like a great idea, and he sought and was granted approval, from the base commander, Brig. General Polhamus, to send five people, one supervisor and four dogs through the school.

The Met training lasted several weeks; when the team and dogs returned to Andrew, training and tests continued and demonstrations were conducted for the public, and HQ USAF officials.

Finally in 1967, the Air Force approved the program, and the Andrew's team and the four dogs, along with trainers from the Metropolitan Police Dog School went to Lackland AFB to help establish the patrol dog program at the AF Security Police Dog Training School.

Training objectives for patrol dogs aim for a composed, discriminating, controllable animal for detecting intruders and subsequent aggressive attack when commanded by their handlers.

Patrol dogs are trained not to be disturbed by the approach of people and to discriminate between a threat and acceptance of others by the handler.

They are trained to remain alert, not to become excited by strangers, and to willingly enter vehicles with other people and dogs without becoming hostile.

The patrol dog is trained to be obedient both on- and off - leash. It will enter an empty building to search for hidden intruders or cover an area to find a lost or concealed object.

The patrol dog is trained to press an attack at the command of its handler with the aggressiveness of a sentry dog, but unlike the sentry dog, can be called off the attack at any time.

USMC Attack Training, San Diego K-9 Unit


Military Working Dogs are purchased from American breeders (80%) and from selected foreign breeders (20%). The average cost is $4,000 per dog. Male and female dogs are accepted but females must be spayed.

Dogs must be between 12 and 36 months old, and weigh at least 55 pounds, stand at least 22 inches tall at the shoulders and be in good physical condition.

Prior to procurement, prospective dogs undergo extensive temperament and physical evaluations.

They are tested for gun shyness, aggressiveness and basic searching behavior.

Their physical examination includes a blood test for heartworm disease, radiographs of their hips and elbows and a thorough physical examination from head to tail.

Only if the animal is found to be both temperamentally and physically sound will it be procured for the program.

K9 Guarding Air Force One

New Breeding Program Announced

The Air Force Security Forces Center, Army Veterinary Corps and the 341st Training Squadron have combined efforts to raise dogs for the military working dog program through a new breeding program designed to augment the current method of buying dogs.

The program has produced seven litters of Belgian Malinois dogs the only breed the program will produce since it began in 1998. The breeding stock used for the litters came from the inventory at Lackland, three males and five females.

Buyers will go to Germany in July (2001) to buy new breeding stock, which can cost up to $10,000 per dog. Quality is the most important consideration when buying dogs, said Capt. Anthony Maisonet, 341st Training Squadron director of operations and foster parent of Dugan, a puppy from one of the litters. The 341st TRS trains military working dogs and their handlers.

"It's a considerable investment because it's for a lifetime of work," said Captain Maisonet.

The goal of the breeding program is to produce more than man's best friend.

341st Lackland-bred Dugan,
A Year Old Belgian Malinois

"The puppy program should give us a couple things," said Maj. John Probst, 341st TRS commander. "It will give us a better understanding of dog behavior to make our training program more productive. It will make our recruitment process better by allowing us to buy a better quality dog, because we know what we're looking for. Physical traits are easy to recognize on the spot. Characteristics and temperament, however, are not, and hopefully, the puppy program will give us a clearer view of that."

The commander said he hopes the program will give the squadron 10 to 30 percent of the dogs they will need each year, but that's a long-term goal. Right now, they are more interested in learning what makes the best military working dog and how to recognize those characteristics for future buy trips.

Photo courtesy of Goulds Malinois, PA

To do that, each puppy is given to a foster parent, volunteers from the 341st TRS, who will keep them for the first 10 months to socialize the puppies and observe them.

"We try to expose them to as many things as possible," said Captain Maisonet. "We take them to social gatherings, get them used to noise, vehicles and machinery. You don't want a dog that will cower to any kind of sudden noise, because in the future you want your dog to be prepared for anything."

Once a week for the duration of the socialization period, the puppies and foster parents see Dr. Stewart Hilliard, breeding program manager, who tests their drive for an object, their willingness to bite and how the puppy reacts to different situations and noises.

"We try to help the foster parents encourage the right traits and strengthen desired characteristics into the dog as they mature and become socialized" said Major Probst. "A full grown dog that is used every day has to be one with courage and confidence, one that is not afraid of a new environment and feels comfortable running into it."

All of the puppies from the first seven litters and from the first litter of the new breeding stock will have a chance at training so the 341st team can observe and gather information. One litter will begin its training by the middle of the month.
After that, Captain Maisonet said they will try to use the information they have learned from the pilot litters to eliminate a puppy as quickly as possible so they aren't spending as much time with a dog that will not succeed as a military working dog.

Formal funding for the breeding program began in 2000 and will continue through 2005. On average, it costs about a $420,000 per year to run the program, according to the major. He says the funding and the whelping kennels are the first steps toward making the breeding program permanent and making the Department of Defense dog program a more effective one.

All at the 341st TRS agree there is still a lot of work to be done.

"Breeding puppies is the easy part," said Captain Maisonet. "Raising them and training them is what is difficult. We want to make sure we're doing it right, and that's always a challenge."

Graduation: USAF, Army and Marine Handlers

Training Today!

Military working dog training begins by establishing the handler - dog relationship through constant close association feeding, grooming, exercise and play.

This stimulates and develops the dog's natural instinct for companionship. Once this relationship has begun to develop, basic obedience training is introduced.

Obedience training for military working dogs is not significantly different from that conducted by professional civilian trainers for personal pets, except that it never stops.

The same key factors of patience, firmness, repetition, and reward and correction are applied throughout the training process. Of these factors, patience is the most important. The handler must never lose his patience and become irritated, or the dog becomes confused and hard to handle.

A dog does not understand the difference between right and wrong according to human standards.

Rex, a USMC K-9 Gets
A Good Job Rub Down!

Desired response is communicated to the dog through reward and punishment. When the dog responds correctly, it is rewarded with verbal praise, physical petting or, with food or play articles.

If a wrong response is made, the reward is with held or the correction is applied. For most dogs, a firm "no" and sharp jerk on the leash are sufficient correction. Repeated jerks on the choke chain are seldom needed.

This is the only form of correction generally applied to military working dogs. Inflicting pain on a dog is detrimental to training and is not allowed except as a last resort for correcting deliberate disobedience, stubbornness or defiance.

From the initial phases of training, the dog is never permitted to ignore a command or fail to carry it out completely.

If a dog fails to execute a command properly, praise is withheld, and the dog is placed in the desired position and then praise is given.

The dog is never allowed to suspect that there is any correct response except total obedience.

Casey, Bomb K-9, FAA

Advance Training!

After basic obedience training, a dog enters advanced training, which includes controlled aggressiveness, attack, and building and open area searches.

During this phase a dog is taught to ride quietly in the patrol vehicles without exhibiting hostility toward other people or dogs; to find a suspect or hostile person in a building or open area; to attack, without command, someone who is attacking its handler; to cease an attack upon command at any point after an attack command has been given; and other tasks.

Because these tasks require absolute control over the dog at all time, proficiency training must continue from this point throughout the dog's entire service life.

Dropping proficiency training on any one of these tasks for as little as 30 days significantly decreases the dog's capabilities and can result in having to completely re-train the dog.

Coast Guard Drug K-9 Teams

"Sniffer" Dogs.

To combat the growing use of marijuana and other drugs in Southeast Asia, a drug detection course was added in January 1971 to the MWD program.

Qualified patrol dogs demonstrating exceptional curiosity, eagerness and ability to retrieve were selected as the dogs most likely to succeed in the program.

The first dogs trained for marijuana detection were tested under a variety of field conditions and proved highly successful.

Even samples sealed in plastic bags and glass jars, and other samples packaged with other substances intended to mask the marijuana scent were easily detected by the dogs.

After these successes, the marijuana detector dog program was expanded and cocaine, hashish and heroin were introduced into the program to expand the dog's capabilities.

This also proved successful and today the Department of Defense has more than 500 drug detector dogs in service at bases around the world.

Bomb & Mine Dogs.

Also in 1971, the Air Force began training dogs to detect explosives. The British, who trained "bomb dogs" for use in Northern Ireland, first attained success in this field.

In special tests, explosives detector dogs were able to detect odor concentrations as small as one to two parts per billion; in several tests, the dogs detected concentrations too small to measure with current equipment.

To ensure that detector dogs retain the highest possible level of capability, constant proficiency training is required.

Mine Dogs, not used since Vietnam, are now being used and trained in Bosnia in support of our troops.

US Army K-9 Team During Exercise

Veterinary Care

The Veterinary Division supporting the Department of Defense Military Working Dog program provides complete veterinary care for the more than 300 dogs kenneled at Lackland AFB.

Worldwide referral and consultative veterinary services are available for all dogs in the MWD program.

The Veterinary Division's professional staff consists of four U.S. Army Veterinary Corps officers with advanced training in surgery, radiology, and internal medicine, plus one civilian veterinarian specializing in animal behavior.

Ten enlisted animal care specialists plus three animal behavior technicians complete the highly skilled staff.

The Endodontic Residency Program at the 59th Medical Wing, Wilford Hall Medical Center, supports the veterinary function by performing endodontic therapy for all military working dogs and by training human endodontists and clinical veterinarians in veterinary endodontics for specific application to military working dogs.

The Veterinary Division supports dog buying trips in the United States and overseas with veterinary personnel for medical evaluation of each prospective canine candidate.

Renovation of the veterinary hospital was completed in September 1990 and provides a unique modern facility with state-of-the art equipment for optimum care of these valuable canine assets.


Most (not all) military working dogs serve long, useful careers. If they are no longer needed by one installation, they are now moved to another.

There is no limit to the number of times a MWD can change bases or handlers! In this way, most dogs can serve a long useful life!

There was a time, that once a dog was accepted for military duty and trained, it would not be returned to a civilian environment...but that changed on November 9, 2000, when President Clinton signed Congressional Bill HR-5314 into law.

Congressional Bill HR-5314 allows the option of retired military working dogs being adopted, by their former handlers, or any individual, who has comparable experience or by law enforce- ment agencies.

With the new law, the U.S. Department of Defense can change its policy forbidding the adoption of these dogs due to the possible danger they pose to the public. The law resolves this concern with its "Hold Harmless Agreement," which releases the United States from any liability for a retired military dog's actions once the dog is transferred to a new guardian.

To be eligible, the dog's current Base Commander and Vet would have to approve the dogs suitability for adoption.

Those dogs who are unable to perform active duty, and are not eligible for adoption, would still be sent back to the Lackland 341st Dog Training School, and use in the training of new dog handlers; or for MWD demonstrations.

While the law allows for the adoption of the dogs as an option, it is still not a requirement for the DOD. However, the DOD will be responsible for keeping an annual, detailed record of each dog that is adopted or euthanized, including case by case information about why a dog was either adopted or selected to be euthanized.


"Of all the animals that have come into the service of mankind, the dog is preeminent in intelligence. But that isn't all: he is more than intelligent, for he is inspired by the love that merges into deathless devotion.

He is more than burden bearer, more than toy, more than companion; he fills posts of human responsibility, his integrity is unassailable, his loyalty supreme.

"The more I see of men," said Frederick the Great, "the better I like dogs." And today there are those who hold that, in accepting the company of man, the dog certainly condescended to a mesalliance."

The above was written over seventy-five years ago by Ernest Harold Baynes; does it still holds true today...
you decide!

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After all, history is only yesterday's news!

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SiteBuilder Acknowledgment: We wish to express our gratitude to the following for the use of research material and photos, from: the World Wide Web, British Imperial War Museum, the British Museum, the British Signal Corp Museum, the United State Air Force History, USAF/SP Digest, US Air Force Archives and Records Center, Airman magazine, the National Archives, Library Of Congress, the US Marine History, the US Army History Site, the United States Army Signal Corp's photographic collection, the US Coast Guard's site, United States Coast Guard Reservists' magazine, the United States Army's Quartermaster Corps archives, the site Trenches of the Great War and various private and litirary resources, Michael G. Lemish, including out-of-print publications by: Ernest H. Baynes, Jack Rohan, Fairfax Downey, Richard Dempewolff, Clayton G. Going and Edwin H. Richardson. Special photographs were provided by the following: Kenneth Aessner, William Bishop, Dick King, Greta Koch, Jesse Cox, Claude J. Anderson, Lew Goldberg and others. We have attempted to observe both the Universal Copyright Convention guide lines, as adopted in 1952 at Geneva in regards to a author's written work or photographic work and 'the fair use' rule as it pertains to all world history. The copyright for all photos, except those in the public domain, remain with their original owners. All original text is 1999 2002, and All Rights Reserved by the Hahn 50th K-9 Section, aka Thomas F. Newton, (exceptions: excerpts or a phrase from various published works). It is not our intentions to violate anyones publish rights but only to preserve the history of military working dogs, etc throughout the ages; to only educate and perhaps entertain visitors to this web site. We receive absolutely no monetary benefits from this site, just the satisfaction of knowing by compiling this historic information, we are preserving a portion of important military history. (signed), Thomas Ferguson Newton, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, on November 11, 1999.

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