The Myth of Soviet Anti-Tank Dogs (1941-1945)

Red Army Dogs Training to Sniff-Out Explosives

Cold War anti-Soviet disinformation runs rife today, not only in the West, but also within modern (capitalist) Russia. The lies perpetuated by the US from 1945 to 1991 (primarily through various CIA missions and initiatives), have main-streamed and are mistaken by many to be ‘true’, when in fact they are ‘false-hoods’. This is not a matter of dogmatic belief, but is rather the consequence of logical and rational research that establishes fact from fiction, and reveals the truth of the matter. If the reader seeks out the various Youtube videos of ‘Top 10’ craziest weapons, the chances are that sooner or later a story about the apparent ‘stupidity’ of Soviet Anti-Tank Dogs will be encountered. The disinformation in the West states that as the Soviet regime was despotic and backward, the use of dogs to destroy tanks was not only cruel, but also highly ineffective (such was its stupidity). It states that these dogs were trained to ‘smell’ the diesel fuel used by Soviet tanks – and not the regular petrol used by Nazi German tanks. The story continues that because of this stupidity, Soviet war records are replete with numerous incidences of Soviet tanks being destroyed by their own Red Army dogs. It is also stated in this mythical account that Soviet dogs often ran back into their own – killing hundreds of Soviet troops. Finally, these bias accounts all agree how ‘cruel’ this Soviet policy was. None of these supposed facts, however, are remotely true.

Red Army Dogs – Moscow May Day Parade 1938

As was the case with most armies in the world, the Soviet Red Army agreed to use dogs for many and varied military duties. Carrying medicines, ammunition and explosives were the primary duties of these dogs, together with guard duty of military bases or positions (they were trained to recognise and aggressively attack approaching enemy soldiers). These dogs were very popular throughout the Red Army and well respected amongst the general public. They were tough, long suffering and extremely loyal to their handlers. However, during 1941, Adolf Hitler’s Nazi German military machine invaded the USSR and initially inflicted one defeat after another on the Soviet military forces. Not only this, but as quickly as part of the Soviet Union was taken, the Nazi Germans would immediately begin applying the policy of the ‘holocaust’ upon the Soviet people. People were dying in their hundreds of thousands and in their millions, and times were exceedingly hard for the Soviet population. Soviet Red Army dogs fought bravely in this war, often throwing themselves on advancing Nazi German forces and dying in the process, whilst attempting to buy their handlers precious seconds of time to get to safety. Soviet Red Army dogs also picked up Nazi German hand-grenades and run toward the Nazi German lines in an attempt to protect Soviet troops. Despite their undoubted bravery, were Soviet Red Army dogs used on suicide missions to destroy Nazi German tanks? Russian language sources suggest not, as there are no Soviet era records that confirm that Red Army dogs were used en mass during the Great Patriotic War. In fact, the only accounts of Red Army dogs crawling under Nazi German tanks originate with the Nazi German forces themselves, and these stories only amount to just two in number. One Nazi German source suggests that a Red Army dog destroyed one Nazi German tank during October, 1941, on the outskirts of the city of Karachev (1). In the summer of 1943, during the Battle of the Kursk, another Nazi German source states that 12 German tanks were destroyed using Red Army dogs (2). A potential third Nazi German source is discredited even amongst Western anti-Soviets, as it emanated from a Soviet defecter to the Nazi Germans. This particular individual also (falsely) stated that the Soviet Red Army possessed ‘flying tanks’. The crucial research point that every researcher misses is that the Soviet system recorded every policy (and its effect) with scrupulous accuracy as a means to plan with greater clarity and to learn from mistakes – and yet the Soviet Archives do not contain even a single mention of Red Army dogs being deployed to attack Nazi German tanks.

Many Soviet Units Possessed Highly Trained War Dogs

A number of military experts have stated that there may have been experiments with training dogs to ‘drop’ fused explosives under the bellies of tanks, but that the training took far too long and was often unsuccessful for numerous reasons. One expert even wrote that he did not think it was practical for a dog to crawl under a moving tank and position itself correctly to do any damage (primarily due to difficult terrain and lack of space under the tank). In training, the dogs would often scatter and go into hiding, with many never re-appearing, whilst some were accidently run-over by the Soviet tanks. On the face of it, it seems far easier for a man or woman to run up to a Nazi German tank and plant explosives, rather than a handler risking his or her life – and that of the dog – by hovering in the general locale of a Nazi German attack! What seems to have happened is that one method of training a dog to carry a bomb under a Nazi German tank (apparently with the dog approaching the tank from behind), namely that of food deprivation (and the conditioning that food could be found ‘under’ the tank), has been taken and blown-out of all proportion, and through disinformation, turned into a deliberate system-wide policy by the Soviet regime. This is typical of Cold War anti-Soviet propaganda designed to pull at the heart-strings of those who care for their dogs in the West. The reality is that the Soviet Red Army soldiers also cared for their dogs with an equal concern. However, the use of ‘dog cruelity’ has also been deployed against Communist China and North Korea – for exactly the same reasons – the discrediting of Socialism. In the years following the Soviet victory in WWII, those remaining Soviet Red Army dogs marched in the May Day parades, and were even awarded medals for their bravery. The idea that the Soviet regime would have made use of a highly inefficient and cruel method to fight the barbarous Nazi Germans, is of course, a racist Cold War myth that has no basis in fact. Therefore, all the apparent facts and stories surrounding this issue in the West, are nothing more than a groundless conspiracy theory.


(1) Paul Karel. Hitler goes to the East. Eastern Front. Book I. From Barbarossa to Stalingrad. 1941-1943. (A. Kolin’s translation). M., EKSMO, 2009. p.147-149

(2) Zaloga, Steve. The Red Army of the Great Patriotic War, 1941-45. Oxford, UNITED KINGDOM: Osprey Publishing. 1989. pp. 43. 

Russian Language References:Противотанковая_собака

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