Is America developing “Super Dogs” ?

Military Working dog runningFaster than a speeding bullet?

More powerful than a locomotive?

Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound?

“Look! Dashing across the battlefield!”

“It’s a dog!”

“It’s a dog?”

“It’s a Super Dog!”

Yes, it’s a Superdog! The military does in fact have Superdogs!

In a prior post I mentioned that Cairo, the Osama Bin Laden Hunter, is a Multi Purpose Canine, or an MPC. (We love our acronyms in the military!)

Currently Multi Purpose Canines are unique to our Special Operation Forces. So what makes these canines different from mainstream military working dogs?

Well, that is like asking what makes the Special Operations community (unconventional) different from the mainstream military (conventional)!

Most traditional dogs in the military–and law enforcement for that matter–are dual purpose: patrol-trained and either drug- or explosive-trained. This means they are trained to attack and can find one of two substances, drugs or explosives. These canines are specialists in these disciplines.

What can a Multi Purpose Canine do?

Pretty much any discipline a military dog executes a MPC can handle and then some. Think of them as the special forces of dogs! These Multi Purpose Dogs are what we call in the “business” Superdogs.

I’ve been asked: Do “Superdogs” have a kryptonite? My answer: I’m pretty sure they have a weakness for milk bones!

So how many of these Super Dogs do we have in the military inventory, you ask?

Yeah, I’m not touching that one. Sorry!

So why doesn’t the military make all our dogs “Super Dogs”?

I can tackle that one, but not until next time. I’ve gotta go feed my “Super” Dogs!

Who thinks their dog could be a “Super Dog”?

Please share and tell us why.

How about those non “Super Dog” candidates…… why is your dog out of the running to become a “Super Dog”?

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31 thoughts on “Is America developing “Super Dogs” ?

  1. Carrie Daws

    Uh, yeah. My little one wouldn’t have a problem running and keeping up, but her attack mode include licks to the face and tugs on your shirt sleeve until you pet her. Not quite the skill set the military needs! :)

    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      What type of dog Carrie? Does she have a search “drive” in her? My Stella will search for hours if I hide her bone. Maybe we would make your girl a search only military dog.

  2. barbara longley

    My basset/cocker mix is smart, but lazy. I’m afraid she’s done a better job of training me than I have of training her. She’s my best bud, though.

    I think she’d be a good therapy dog. She loves everybody and has a very mellow and sweet disposition. She’s a “super” dog in a different way. :0) Great post. As usual.

    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Thank you Barbara. I think you are right…your girl would make a perfect therapy dog! A very important mission.

  3. Maria Goodavage

    Fun article! Love the Krypton Dog image! Just shared w Soldier Dogs FB page. Kevin, in your experience, how different are MPCs from regular dual or single purpose MWDs – in both training and physical/mental makeup?

  4. Maria Goodavage

    I hear ya. I learned a few things about them while writing the book, but I wondered if you had any official “officer” perspective on it. But I totally understand not being able to say stuff about it on a website.

    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Course I can’t be held accountable for what is said over a beer….. I am Irish for goodness sakes!

  5. Adriana Johnson


    I enjoy your choices on words superdog and superman. I like that Superdog to the rescue! How interesting, I am learning so much about military dogs on your blog Animals are metaphorically colorful that is for sure. My dog is a superdog when he gives his campionship unconditionally. He is very good with children and he does not seem to not like anybody. Blessings!

    Adriana Johnson

    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      He sounds like a good therapy dog Adriana. I love the sound and thought of a Superdog….sounds so cool….ya know!

      Sorry…In Mass right now…accent coming out!

  6. aj Melnick

    My rescue GSD is a super dog, a super Therapy Dog..We visit several Al;zheimer’s units weekly and are planning to add the pediatric ward of the hospital. He has his Canine Good Citizen certification and has never met anyone he doesn’t like, 2-legged or 4- legged.

    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Hi AJ. Amazing stuff. I was just talking to my brother’s buddy tonight about therapy dogs. They are so amazing. What breed do you have?

  7. Patti Mallett

    What beautiful creatures! My little mutt dog could probably kick some butt over there. Or, at least, play a wild game of fetch.

    Thanks for the window into this fascinating branch of our military!

    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      What type of dog do you have Patti? Does he/ she have drive or could we use him/her for morale?

  8. Jason

    Terrific pics and an excellent site. I definitely have a superdog. Faster than a speeding frisbee, stronger than a rawhide chewie, able to sleep tall beds in a single yawn.

    Thanks for all the fantastic info and stories. Does the military (or law enforcement) get any dogs from shelters?

    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Nice comparison Jason….love it! My two fools can kick some rawhide butt as well!

      I can’t speak for law enforcement so if anyone else can please let us know. Very few military dogs come from shelters but it is possible. Check out Chuck and Gabe’s story on the site. Gabe was a pound puppy before he became a MWD.

      1. Jason

        I asked because I found Joker in the local shelter. She was still pretty young and would have been an awesome MWD. (It’s too late now; I’m afraid that I have ruined her with a life of frisbee, hiking and leisure. However, if America is ever threatened by disc shaped invaders we will be ready for them.)

        It seems a shame to let so many dogs die in shelters all over the country when many of them would be excellent MWD’s. I’m sure there are nuances I don’t understand.

        1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

          I can’t speak for the department of defense but I will tell you what I believe to be true.

          MWD are thoroughly screened for certain physical, emotional and mental characteristics. Your average pound puppy would never cut it as a MWD. I know that many have been screened by the department of defense and turned down as candidates.

          Also the logistics of searching out dogs across the country vs buying ones we know will have an excellent chance at making the cut I imagine is more cost effective.

  9. Pingback: The military working dog: America's four-legged warrior — Pets For Patriots Blog

  10. Dee

    Personally, I think all dogs are “Super Dogs” in one way or another. It just takes a loving owner to find out what they’re good at–even if it’s just a cuddle-bug to brighten someone’s day.

    I don’t find it hard at all to believe that the US would be developing “Super Dogs.” After all, Red Star Kennels in Russia was the first (and as of yet only) government program to actually develop a specific breed for military work. That dog is the Black Russian Terrier. They have some amazing qualities from several breeds (that have traditionally been strong workers for many, many decades) all rolled up together.

    Just imagine how much easier the US government has it when they’re using breeds that are already developed. (At least it doesn’t look to me like they’ve been using any new “designer” breeds.) They’re just finding the absolute best of all qualities that they need and putting them together for strengthening their specific purposes. The research that’s been done in the canine psychology field has surely made it easier than ever before to find what you want in a dog early on so that it can be nurtured into its absolute pinnacle of success.

  11. Janesblond

    I’m not surprised they’re seeking out the best qualities in different breeds to serve as Military Dogs.
    I own a Portuguese Water Dog that I use for dog therapy with Psychiatric patients and retired Veterans in the hospital. Even though he is now five years old, it still amazes me how in tune he is with people. I wish we had a program here that helped soldiers bridge the gap between active duty and civilian life. If there were I would be breeding Porty’s specifically for this. Their temperament and personality are outstanding, not to mention the added benefit of the breed being hypoallergenic.

    Hats off to you and everyone involved. I couldn’t think of a better way to Pay It Forward :)

    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      These are special dogs that are HIGHLY trained. Their handlers work constantly on their enhanced skills. Conventional dog teams don’t receive the time these teams receive to train. :-)

      There are some programs out there which are doing just fabulous things for our Vets. They are stepping in because the VA refuses to do so.

  12. Jani Muhlestein

    I’m glad that they have superhero dogs to go with our superhero soldiers. Our dogs? Well, Romeo could sit on just about anybody and wiggle them to death. Jazz could outchase anybody, but only if they had his football. Tink? Tink is a superdoggy. She’s 100 pounds of intelligent labrador packed into a 7 pound Shih-Chon. She rules the roost, even when it included 2 Siberian Huskies. But the military can’t have her. She’s all mine. They can, however, have Sam, if they want. I’m not sure for why they would, but they can have him.

    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Not these pups Jani….these handlers train constantly with their dogs…… they are some the most highly trained dogs in the world.

      I’m not sure if we could get your pups qualified for the program! LOL!

      1. colliemum

        Well, I was lucky to have shared my home with a ‘super dog’. He was ‘super’ in regard to the other dogs: stern disciplinarian of testosterone-flooded teenie dogs, beloved by teenie bitches, soft and gentle with traumatised dogs who didn’t want any other dog near them. Keen player of balls of any shape (which he all found in the bramble thickets where they had been abandoned by previous owners!), and exceptional scavenger.
        Also pig-headed and not given to ‘work’ (a.k.a obedience training) without rewards forthcoming!
        Also comforter in my grief, and generally beloved by humans.
        He was a BC Cross, rescued from the pond’s death list, and still very much missed five years after he went otrb.
        No use for any military or other force because of his obsession with food!

        1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

          I’ve got a chow hound myself! But I bet we could turn that drive into positive training with some minor tweaks! :-)

  13. amanda

    Bionic Woman was my favorite show as a kid, what was her GS name? Ive got a husky, Brute. Hes 1 1/2 and oh boy is he smart. His favorite is bones from the butcher. He will search, and find them anywhere. Stamina is endless. So is his loyalty to his human pack. He learns very quickly what one is telling him, in his eyes you can just see his brain going, yep i get it mom. Mostly hes a big lover. But beware a rabbit, turkey, or deer in the field, hes faaast!

  14. Jeanne

    My GSD is only 5 mo but she’s our Superdog. Kona learns everything after just 2 or 3 times. Her goal is to please. She listens so well and loves everybody! We already have to lock all the doors and gates outside because she’s a master of opening everything. Of course now she’s working on the locks. She wants to be wherever my husband is. German Shepherds are amazing dogs! And btw, Love your website.

    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Kona seems amazingly smart! OK good, my Stella isn’t the only one to open cabinet doors. Course my little princess does this to liberate treats from the trash!

  15. India

    Intriguing article, I’m very interested in the parameters set for MWDs and these apparent superdogs.

    I think my dog Sarge could be some sort of a superdog (we joke about him being a secret agent when we aren’t looking). He’s a German Shepherd/Great Dane mix who is already 83 pounds and no-where near finished growing! He’s the smartest dog I’ve ever known; within three days of owning him, we learned he could open doors! He learns commands in minutes, from ‘sit’ to ‘find India’ when my family wants him to leave and come bug me instead! He’s a powerful sniffer and can track out a dog in the dog park from one end to the other. He’s also the epitemy of watchdogs! He has the deepest and fullest, most intimidating bark in the neighborhood and won’t let anything strange go on without letting us know (he’ll come and get us and won’t leave alone until we’ve searched out the area with him). He can tell a friend from a foe before they even make it to the driveway, and he will sit at attention in front of us staring at the door for HOURS if he hears something outside. I swear he’s the most amazing dog I’ve ever known! And the fact that his owner before us was a deployed soldier has always made me wonder… HAHA!

    Anyway, your blog is very interesting, keep up the good work!

    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Hi India. Your Sarge certainly sounds like he would qualify as a super dog! He sound like a real character. I can’t even get my Stella to stop jumping on the door when we try to let her out. Still at 5 she has the energy of a puppy. The majority of super dogs, or multipurpose dogs are Belgian Malinois.


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