What Kind of Dogs Do the Navy Seals Use? List

Navy SEALs are among the most elite and secretive forces in the world, carrying out high-risk missions that require exceptional skills and precision. But they are not alone in their endeavors – they have loyal and fearless canine partners that assist them in various tasks, such as explosives detection, search and rescue, and enemy apprehension.

But what kind of dogs do Navy SEALs use? And how are they trained and equipped for such demanding roles? In this article, we will explore the breeds, abilities, and gear of the dogs of the Navy SEALs.

Breed Selection: Form Meets Function

The choice of dog breeds for Navy SEALs is not random or based on personal preference. It is a strategic decision that considers the physical and mental attributes of each breed, as well as the specific needs of the SEAL teams.

The most common breeds used by Navy SEALs are Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds. These breeds are known for their intelligence, agility, and versatility, making them ideal for detecting explosives, tracking down enemies, and engaging in combat if necessary.

Belgian Malinois are especially favored for their high energy, work ethic, and keen sense of smell. They can quickly assess situations and locate hidden threats, as well as endure harsh environments and long hours of work.

German Shepherds, on the other hand, are valued for their protective nature and strong bite force. They can subdue adversaries without causing lethal harm, if possible, and guard their handlers and teammates from danger.

Other breeds that are sometimes used by Navy SEALs include Labrador Retrievers and Dutch Shepherds. Labrador Retrievers are excellent swimmers and retrievers, making them useful for waterborne operations and search and rescue missions. Dutch Shepherds are similar to Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds, but with a more rugged and independent personality.

Each breed has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the selection of the best dog for each mission depends on various factors, such as the terrain, the climate, the threat level, and the handler’s preference. According to Mike Ritland, a former Navy SEAL and a dog trainer, the best dog for a SEAL team is “the one that will lay down its life for you, and expect nothing in return”.

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Training: Forging the Ultimate Partners

The training regimen for Navy SEAL dogs is as rigorous and demanding as that of their human counterparts. It starts from an early age, when the dogs are taught basic obedience, socialization, and bonding with their handlers.

As the dogs mature, they undergo specialized training that prepares them for the various tasks and challenges that they will face in the field. Some of the skills that they learn include:

  • Explosives Detection: Navy SEAL dogs are trained to identify various explosive substances by scent, ensuring the safety of their teams during missions.
  • Attack and Apprehension: Navy SEAL dogs receive controlled aggression training, enabling them to engage and immobilize threats without causing lethal harm, if possible.
  • Aerial Deployment: Some Navy SEAL dogs are trained to parachute alongside their handlers, allowing them to be inserted into challenging environments quickly.
  • Waterborne Operations: Navy SEAL dogs are adept swimmers, capable of performing water rescues and conducting aquatic missions.
  • Stealth and Reconnaissance: Navy SEAL dogs are taught to move quietly and remain undetected while gathering critical information.

The training of Navy SEAL dogs is not only physical, but also mental and emotional. The dogs must develop a strong bond with their handlers, as well as a high level of trust, respect, and loyalty. The dogs must also be able to cope with stress, trauma, and loss, as well as adapt to changing situations and environments.

The training of Navy SEAL dogs is not a secret, but it is not widely publicized either. The exact methods and techniques used by the trainers are not disclosed, to protect the security and effectiveness of the dogs and their teams. However, some aspects of the training have been revealed by former SEALs and dog trainers, such as Ritland, who wrote a book about his experience.

Gear: Enhancing the Canine Capabilities

Navy SEAL dogs are not only trained, but also equipped with high-tech gear that enhances their capabilities and protects them from harm. Some of the gear that they wear and use include:

  • Body Armor: Navy SEAL dogs wear specially designed and fitted body armor that protects them from bullets, shrapnel, and other threats. The body armor also has pockets and attachments for carrying additional equipment, such as cameras, radios, and medical kits.
  • Doggles: Navy SEAL dogs wear specially designed and fitted goggles that protect their eyes from dust, debris, and glare. The goggles also have night-vision and infrared capabilities that allow the dogs to see in the dark and through walls.
  • Ear Protection: Navy SEAL dogs wear specially designed and fitted ear protection that reduces the noise and impact of explosions, gunfire, and helicopters. The ear protection also has communication capabilities that allow the handlers to give commands and receive feedback from the dogs.
  • Boots: Navy SEAL dogs wear specially designed and fitted boots that protect their paws from heat, cold, and sharp objects. The boots also provide traction and stability on various terrains and surfaces.
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The gear that Navy SEAL dogs use is not only functional, but also fashionable. The dogs often sport custom-made patches, collars, and harnesses that display their names, ranks, and unit logos. Some of the gear is also personalized with the dog’s favorite colors, patterns, and symbols.

The gear that Navy SEAL dogs use is not cheap, either. According to Ritland, a fully equipped Navy SEAL dog can cost up to $30,000. However, the gear is worth every penny, as it can make the difference between life and death for the dogs and their handlers.

Real-Life Examples: SEAL Dogs in Action

Navy SEAL dogs have participated in some of the most daring and dangerous missions in history, often playing a vital role in the success and survival of their teams. Here are some examples of SEAL dogs in action:

  • Cairo: Cairo was the only dog to accompany Navy SEAL Team 6 as they raided Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan in 2011. Cairo was strapped to his handler as they were lowered from a helicopter, and wore special body armor while bursting into the compound. Cairo helped secure the perimeter, sniff out explosives, and search for hidden enemies. Cairo was the only member of SEAL Team 6 to be publicly named, and received a medal of honor from President Obama.
  • Dozer: Dozer was a Labrador Retriever who served with Navy SEAL Team 4 in Afghanistan in 2012. Dozer was trained to detect improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and saved countless lives by finding and marking hidden bombs. Dozer was also known for his friendly and playful personality, and often cheered up his teammates with his antics. Dozer was killed in action when he stepped on an IED that he missed, and was buried with full military honors.
  • Chopper: Chopper was a Belgian Malinois who served with Navy SEAL Team 6 in Iraq in 2007. Chopper was trained to attack and apprehend enemies, and was involved in several high-profile missions, including the rescue of a kidnapped British journalist. Chopper was also a loyal and loving companion to his handler, who credited him with saving his life on multiple occasions. Chopper retired from service in 2009, and lived with his handler until he died of natural causes in 2015.
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These are just some of the examples of the amazing feats and stories of Navy SEAL dogs. There are many more that remain classified or unknown, but they all deserve our respect and gratitude for their service and sacrifice.


Navy SEAL dogs are more than just animals – they are heroes, partners, and friends. They are trained and equipped to perform extraordinary tasks, and they do so with courage and dedication. They are an integral part of the Navy SEAL teams, and they share their triumphs and tragedies. They are the dogs of the Navy SEALs, and they are the best of the best.