World War I and II | The German Shepherd
German Shepherd dogs did indeed fight on World War I – however, they fought initially on the side of the Germans, as befits their Teutonic origin. Their deeds in World War I, however, allowed them to become known to a whole host of other countries through the medium of combat, and soon England and America too became increasingly aware of the abilities of this extraordinary dog. Before long, nearly all countries involved in World War I were using German Shepherd dogs as part of their military forces in a variety of functions. German Shepherd Dogs were used as messengers, carrying correspondence to and from soldiers, tracking through their extraordinary sense of smell the positions of fallen or sick or injured soldiers, serving as patrol dogs – the dogs' keen sense of hearing was used to sense enemy presence before humans could do so – and even working as sentries and guards. It was, however, anti-German animosity following World War I that caused the dog to be known in England as the “Alsatian” - a terminology that continues today.
As in World War I, German Shepherd dogs during World War II fought both on the side of the Allied forces and on that of the Axis, in both cases serving bravely and saving the lives of many men. As in World War I, German Shepherd dogs served not only in the capacity of scouts – using their keen sense of smell and direction to search for potentially dangerous entities like enemy ambushes or landmines, but also helping soldiers discover the location of beneficial items like food or medical supplies. German shepherd dogs also helped their handlers find missing or wounded comrades; thus being able to track the scent of the missing soldier through the jungles of the Pacific and the meadows of France alike.
While there are few definitive records regarding the German Shepherd dog's numbers in World War II, it is nevertheless certain that in fact there were a great many dogs serving in the war on both sides, and that on both sides their efforts were invaluable in saving many human and other canine lives, and their heroism is to be commended.