Now You Know

Sic’ Em!

The dog who chased down one of the world’s most wanted men has something science still can’t replicate: a killer sense of smell.

Now You Know

WHAT TO KNOW

  • A military working dog played a key role in the operation targeting the head of ISIS: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
  • The Belgian Malinois chased the ISIS leader through underground caves, ultimately cornering him before the terrorist detonated an explosive vest.
  • Injured, but still alive, the dog remains “in theater” (deployed).
Now You Know

THE BREED

The military often works with a breed of dog called *Belgian Malinois* which look like a slightly smaller German Shepherd. Their size makes them easier to transport – even for skydiving.

Why: Strong, athletic, fierce and the more activity (like chasing down bad guys), the better. They are also extremely loyal and eager to please.

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DOG’S BEST WEAPON

  • Arguably their smell – used to find people, landmines or bombs.
  • No robot or computer has replicated a dog’s sense of smell. In fact, scientists have yet to discover exactly how their sense of smell works!
  • New studies reveal dogs can even “smell” prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease.
Now You Know

“A lot of our science and technology for years has been trying to replicate the work these dogs do. Their olfactory glands are 10,000 times more sensitive than any piece of equipment we’ve been able to develop. So the detection work they do, a dog finding explosives or drugs, that’s never going to be replaced.”

Major Matthew Kowalski, 341st Training Squadron commander, who oversees the military working dog program.
Now You Know

In the military, dogs outrank their handlers - as a way to show that they aren't just a piece of equipment, but a teammate to be respected. Did you know you can adopt or foster a puppy in the military working dog program? Read more about how on our source page.

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Sources

Military Working Dogs
https://www.37trw.af.mil/Units/37th-Training-Group/341st-Training-Squadron/
Dogs have been in the military since 600 BC. And they do some serious work
https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/29/us/military-working-dogs-history-trnd/index.html
From 2011: Belgian Malinois, German Shepherd breeds under spotlight as possible war hero dogs
https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/belgian-malinois-german-shepherd-breeds-under-spotlight-as-possible-war-hero-dogs/2011/05/05/AFGpoHyF_blog.html
The Quest to Make a Bot That Can Smell as Well as a Dog
https://www.wired.com/story/quest-to-make-robot-smell-cancer-dog/
This Is the Military Working Dog That Helped Take Out the Leader of ISIS
https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/10/28/military-working-dog-helped-take-out-leader-isis.html
Descriptor of Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois