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Causes for discharge of military working dogs from service: 268 cases (2000–2004)

Rebecca I. Evans DVM, MPH1, John R. Herbold DVM, MPH, PhD, DACVPM2, Benjamin S. Bradshaw PhD3, and George E. Moore DVM, PhD, DACVPM, DACVIM4
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  • 1 Department of Defense Military Working Dog Veterinary Service, 1219 Knight St, Lackland AFB, TX 78236
  • | 2 School of Public Health, San Antonio Regional Campus, University of Texas, San Antonio, TX 78229
  • | 3 School of Public Health, San Antonio Regional Campus, University of Texas, San Antonio, TX 78229
  • | 4 Department of Comparative Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2027

Abstract

Objective—To determine causes for discharge of military working dogs (MWDs) from service.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—268 MWDs.

Procedures—Records of all MWDs approved for discharge from December 2000 through November 2004 were evaluated for cause of discharge.

Results—23 dogs had been obtained through the Department of Defense breeding program but had failed to meet prepurchase or certification standards. The remaining 245 (120 German Shepherd Dogs, 100 Belgian Malinois, and 25 dogs of other breeds) had been purchased as adults or obtained through the breeding program and had passed prepurchase and certification standards. Eighty-five of the 245 (34.7%) adult dogs were 1 to < 5 years old at discharge, and 160 (65.3%) were ≥ 5 years old at discharge. The proportion of adult dogs < 5 years old at discharge that were German Shepherd Dogs (69.4%) was significantly greater than the proportion of adult dogs ≥ 5 years old at discharge that were German Shepherd Dogs (38.1%). Within the subgroup of dogs ≥ 5 years old at discharge, median age at discharge for the German Shepherd Dogs (8.59 years) was significantly less than median age at discharge for the Belgian Malinois (10.61 years). For adult dogs < 5 years old at discharge, the most common cause for discharge was behavioral problems (82.3%).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that longevity of service for MWDs may be influenced by breed differences and that selection criteria should be evaluated to reduce behavior-related discharge from service.

Abstract

Objective—To determine causes for discharge of military working dogs (MWDs) from service.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—268 MWDs.

Procedures—Records of all MWDs approved for discharge from December 2000 through November 2004 were evaluated for cause of discharge.

Results—23 dogs had been obtained through the Department of Defense breeding program but had failed to meet prepurchase or certification standards. The remaining 245 (120 German Shepherd Dogs, 100 Belgian Malinois, and 25 dogs of other breeds) had been purchased as adults or obtained through the breeding program and had passed prepurchase and certification standards. Eighty-five of the 245 (34.7%) adult dogs were 1 to < 5 years old at discharge, and 160 (65.3%) were ≥ 5 years old at discharge. The proportion of adult dogs < 5 years old at discharge that were German Shepherd Dogs (69.4%) was significantly greater than the proportion of adult dogs ≥ 5 years old at discharge that were German Shepherd Dogs (38.1%). Within the subgroup of dogs ≥ 5 years old at discharge, median age at discharge for the German Shepherd Dogs (8.59 years) was significantly less than median age at discharge for the Belgian Malinois (10.61 years). For adult dogs < 5 years old at discharge, the most common cause for discharge was behavioral problems (82.3%).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that longevity of service for MWDs may be influenced by breed differences and that selection criteria should be evaluated to reduce behavior-related discharge from service.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Evan's present address is Europe Regional Veterinary Command, APO AE 09042.

Views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the policy or position of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the US government.

Address correspondence to Dr. Evans.