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War dogs Wearing Canine Gas Masks during WWI and WWII

The call of a gas attack was one of the terrifying sounds in the trenches. Throughout the war, hundreds of thousands of soldiers died from chlorine, phosgene, and mustard gas exposure as stalemated armies sought new ways to defeat each other.

In addition to human combatants, many military working animals also died from chemical weapons. Throughout history, dogs have served as sentries, messengers, attackers, and even mascots in warfare. It is estimated that one million dogs died during World War I, a conflict in which chemical weapons were used on a large scale for the first time. These gases’ devastating effects accelerated the development of masks to counteract them.

British and American governments developed masks quickly in response to German forces’ first use of poison gas in April 1915. They also developed canine gas masks due to the important role dogs played in combat at the time. On the Western Front, some 30,000 German dogs were used, while around 20,000 Entente dogs were kept. Their small size allowed them to slip over and between trenches to deliver messages, move medical supplies, or lay down communication lines. Some dogs pulled heavy machine guns on trolleys, and others served as sentries and scouts using their keen sense of smell and hearing.

Here are some pictures of war dogs wearing gas masks against chemical warfare:

#1 Two Airedale terriers in training at Lt. Colonel E. H. Richardson’s camp in Surrey. 1939.

Two Airedale terriers in training at Lt. Colonel E. H. Richardson’s camp in Surrey. 1939.

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#2 A French sergeant and dog wearing gas masks, near the front line during World War I. 1915.

A French sergeant and dog wearing gas masks, near the front line during World War I. 1915.

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#3 A dog of the French Army. 1918.

A dog of the French Army. 1918.

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#4 Member of a Prussian Reichwehr regiment during a training exercise. The 1920s.

Member of a Prussian Reichwehr regiment during a training exercise. The 1920s.

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#5 Interwar German army in training exercises. 1920s.

Interwar German army in training exercises. 1920s.

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#6 Parisians walk their gas mask-equipped dogs. 1939.

Parisians walk their gas mask-equipped dogs. 1939.

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#7 Airedale dogs being trained by Lt Col E. H. Richardson to wear special gas masks at a Surrey kennel. 1939.

Airedale dogs being trained by Lt Col E. H. Richardson to wear special gas masks at a Surrey kennel. 1939.

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#8 An American family and their dog at the beginning of World War II show off their gas masks in preparation for a possible gas attack in 1940 in Berlin, Germany.

An American family and their dog at the beginning of World War II show off their gas masks in preparation for a possible gas attack in 1940 in Berlin, Germany.

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#9 Dogs have been used in warfare since ancient times, serving as sentries, messengers, attackers and even mascots. c. 1940

Dogs have been used in warfare since ancient times, serving as sentries, messengers, attackers and even mascots. c. 1940

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#10 U.S. Army soldiers wear gas masks during a chemical warfare training exercise in California. 1943.

U.S. Army soldiers wear gas masks during a chemical warfare training exercise in California. 1943.

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#11 World War II. 1943.

World War II. 1943.

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#12 An American soldier and dog participate in drills in Germany. 1955.

An American soldier and dog participate in drills in Germany. 1955.

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#13 Rin Tin Tin’s War

Rin Tin Tin's War

An American infantryman prepares canine film star Rin Tin Tin III to lay a field telephone line during a training exercise, USA, 1944.

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#14 A group of US Army soldiers, rifles in hand, wear gas masks during a training exercise related to chemical attacks, California, 1943.

A group of US Army soldiers, rifles in hand, wear gas masks during a training exercise related to chemical attacks, California, 1943.

Along with the soldiers, a dog with a first aid pack strapped to it wears a special muzzle filter to protect it from gas.

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#15 Gas Attack Training, 1943

Gas Attack Training, 1943

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#16 A group of US Army soldiers with a dog with a first aid pack strapped to it wears a special muzzle filter to protect it from gas.

A group of US Army soldiers with a dog with a first aid pack strapped to it wears a special muzzle filter to protect it from gas.

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#17 Two Airedale Terriers at Lt. Colonel EH Richardson’s canine training camp in Woking, Surrey, during World War II, 16th October 1939. One dog wears a special gas mask and the other carries rations for a wounded soldier.

Two Airedale Terriers at Lt. Colonel EH Richardson's canine training camp in Woking, Surrey, during World War II, 16th October 1939. One dog wears a special gas mask and the other carries rations for a wounded soldier.

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#18 Parisians Women Doing A Walk With Their Dogs Fitted With Gas Mask, Paris, 1939

Parisians Women Doing A Walk With Their Dogs Fitted With Gas Mask, Paris, 1939

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#19 A woman, member of Air Raid Precautions (ARP) puts a gas mask on her dog, in the UK in July 1938.

A woman, member of Air Raid Precautions (ARP) puts a gas mask on her dog, in the UK in July 1938.

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#20 Reichswehr soldiers and their dogs wearing gas masks during a military maneuver on September 10, 1932 in Germany.

Reichswehr soldiers and their dogs wearing gas masks during a military maneuver on September 10, 1932 in Germany.

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#21 Rol, dog wearing a gas mask, 1918

Rol, dog wearing a gas mask, 1918

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#22 French messenger dog with gas mask that is used for warfare is making his way through a cloud of poison gasspring, 1917

French messenger dog with gas mask that is used for warfare is making his way through a cloud of poison gasspring, 1917

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#23 Airedale Terriers Wearing Gas Masks. Gas masks for both dogs and human beings were on exhibition yesterday.

Airedale Terriers Wearing Gas Masks. Gas masks for both dogs and human beings were on exhibition yesterday.

The Airedales, trained by Lt-Col. E H Richardson at his Surrey kennels to carry messages are trying out various types in an attempt to find the most suitable. Eventually the best type of gas mask suitable for these dogs will be found.

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#24 French soldiers with dog wearing gas masks during gas mask parade in trench, Western Front, World War 1, 1916.

French soldiers with dog wearing gas masks during gas mask parade in trench, Western Front, World War 1, 1916.

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Written by Jacob Aberto

Sincere, friendly, curious, ambitious, enthusiast. I'm a content crafter and social media expert. I love Classic Movies because their dialogue, scenery and stories are awesome.

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