19. Dogs and handlers were trained to serve in Vietnam by the US military
Just under 5,000 dogs were trained by all four branches of the US military to serve in the war in Vietnam. The majority of them were German Shepherds, though Labradors were often the breed of choice for use by the Navy and Marines. Prior to the Tet Offensive of 1968, records of the dogs were not kept by the military, and how many were lost in combat operations is unknown, but only about 200 returned to the United States. Dogs and their handlers were trained to perform a variety of duties in the war, and about ten thousand dog handlers served. The Army and Air Force used about 90% of the dogs sent to Vietnam, with the Army having the most by a wide margin.
Dogs to be used as scouts were trained at Fort Benning, Georgia, learning to detect trip wires, weapons caches, and other items. Tracker dogs were trained to track based on blood trails, odors, and other evidence of someone having passed. Sentry dogs were used on the perimeter of military installations, and most were trained for the task at Lackland Air Force Base. Other dogs were trained to crawl into spider holes and tunnels in search of mines, trip wires, and other booby traps, prior to the tunnel being cleared by combat engineers. The majority of the dogs left behind after the American withdrawal from Vietnam were assigned new handlers with the ARVN. What eventually became of them is unknown.