A Tank-less Job

Reader Jeff Pyrotek left me a comment on Facebook, admonishing me for my lack of info on Russian anti-tank dogs in the last post.

Frankly, it was because I’d never heard of them.

All quotes are from the wikipedia

They were intensively trained by the Soviet and Russian military forces between 1930 and 1996 and used in 1941–1942 against German tanks in World War II. Although the original dog training routine was to leave the bomb and retreat so that the bomb would be detonated by the timer, this routine failed and was replaced by an impact detonation procedure which killed the dog in the process.

How do you train a dog to destroy a tank?

First, you deny it dinner.

Dogs were trained by being kept hungry and their food was placed under tanks.

Unfortunately, a lack of nutrition was the least of the canines’ problems. Unlike the relatively lucky American mutts, these pooches were expendable.

Their deployment revealed some serious problems. In order to save fuel and ammunition, dogs had been trained on tanks which stood still and did not fire their guns. In the field, the dogs refused to dive under moving tanks. Some persistent dogs ran near the tanks, waiting for them to stop but were shot in the process. Gunfire from the tanks scared away many of the dogs.


Another serious training mistake was later revealed; the Soviets used their own diesel-engine tanks to train the dogs rather than German tanks which had gasoline engines. As the dogs relied on their acute sense of smell, the dogs sought out familiar Soviet tanks instead of strange-smelling German tanks.