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In the first half of the 4th century, Aeneas Tacitus published his Poliorcetica where he wrote about messenger dogs whose communications were fastened to their collars. The story about fighting dogs in Greek and Roman armies is refuted now, but we may assume that the Celts and the Gauls used their dogs as weapons from the 6th century to about BC.
Attila the Hun died used large Molossian dogs during his campaigns, and in the 12th century, Irishmen brought their wolfhounds into action in their battles against Norman knights on horseback. During the English War of the Roses — between the rival Plantagenet Houses of Lancaster and York — the contending parties used mastiffs. English and European monarchs in the 16th, 17th and 18th century brought their dogs to the battlefields. In the last quarter of the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I unleashed fighting dogs on the Irish Desmond rebels.
Thanks to this web of messenger dogs, the army leadership could transmit their strategies. It is said that he introduced this method based on an example dating from antiquity.
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With the arrival of firearms, the importance of war dogs decreased; gunpowder and a rifle were more effective than a dog. But there was still work left for the dogs to bring messages, transport ammunition and medicine, track and patrol. According to various sources, the Russians used dogs in the Crimean War The Franco-Prussian War claimed so many lives that human guards had to be replaced by trained guard dogs. Around , there was a real mania in German military circles for breeding and training dogs for war time activities. In , the German army established the first military school for training war dogs in Lechenich near Berlin , and in wrote the first training manual for military war dogs.
Imperial Russia used ambulance dogs and guard dogs during the Russo-Japanese War The dogs were trained by a British dog fancier Col. Edwin Richardson, who later established the first army dog school in England.
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In this war, the Trans-Siberian railroad was never attacked thanks to well-trained guard dogs. By the outbreak of the First World War , all parties involved were prepared to bring their dogs into action. France founded a training center in , and in the dogs were sent to the front for the first time. Mascots — another category of war dogs — came in all sorts and sizes, but they are outside the scope of this article.
Dogs serving in the signals unit were divided into messenger dogs and telegraph dogs. Some of the messenger dogs carried homing pigeons that were released at the front line. Telegraph dogs carried a reel with a telephone wire; the wire unwound en route.
Most of these dogs were able to avoid the danger in the trenches and firing lines and, thanks to their bravery, communication could be maintained. The patrol dogs could point out hostile troops, soldiers and snipers.
France started using Red Cross dogs in their army in In addition dogs were trained as parachute dogs. At first, the dog jumped on its own, using a lighter parachute. Dog and handler jumping together came later. Special gas masks were made for dogs. In the trenches, a messenger dog was often the last hope for keeping contact with other army units. A messenger dog was accustomed to only two people and covered a distance of two to four kilometers.
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Bryan D. For a long time, the European armies sought a suitable solution for transporting machine guns, which were effective only when they could be moved quickly, could be placed in position easily, and could be provided with sufficient ammunition. When mobilization was proclaimed just before the First World War, the Dutch army experimented with carts, automobiles and even bicycles for the transport of machine guns, but the Belgians and the French constructed small, light vehicles to be pulled by dogs.
There are many images of dogs pulling machine guns. It seems that almost every infantry regiment wanted to be photographed with their cart and dogs. The dogs worked in pairs and if the guns had to be fired immediately, the dogs were not even unharnessed. Precision and no barking were requirements for machine gun dogs. In addition, all war dogs needed to have a sharp sense of hearing, an excellent nose, stamina, no coat markings and a strong physique.
Experts on the Second World War state that the participation of dogs in this war can be multiplied by ten compared to the First World War.