Dogs have always been known for their loyalty, their unconditional love, and their friendship. There are a few dogs in history, however, that went above and beyond their traditional role as pets, and became heroes.
Some of the bravest dogs in history are highlighted below for their remarkable journeys and feats of incredible strength.
A black and white husky named Balto was the lead sled dog for Gunner Kaasen’s sled team on the last leg of the 1925 serum run to Nome, Alaska.
He led the team through hazardous blizzards and ice to deliver the critical medicine to the citizens of Nome, and gained fame in the process.
He and Kaasen toured the West Coast and later appeared in a 30-minute film depicting the serum run. Balto’s taxidermied likeness is to the day displayed in the Cleveland Museum of National History.
Since then hundreds of books and movies have been made about or inspired by Balto:
Togo was a Siberian Husky who traveled a round trip of 325 miles through subzero temperatures of the arctic to hand off a diphtheria serum for the citizens of Nome, Alaska.
At one point during the trip, Seppala was unable to see through the storm, but Togo led the team in a straight line through the dark to safety.
Read more about Togo here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Togo_(dog)
3. Smoky The Terrier
While some people consider small breeds to be lapdogs, Smoky was destined for more.
A four-pound Yorkshire Terrier, she was found by American soldiers in the New Guinea jungle during WWII and went on to back-pack with their camp for 18 months.
Because Smoky wasn’t brought over as a war dog, she didn’t have the same diet and medical access as the other dogs. Even still, she survived and thrived on sharing her keeper, William Wynne’s, rations.
Smoky was featured in multiple newspapers upon her return to the States, and even went on to perform unbelievable tricks on live TV.
Read more about Smoky here: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/05/140520-dogs-war-canines-soldiers-military-healing-yorkshire-terrier-smoky/
Laika, a mixed-breed Soviet space dog, was the first animal in space and the first animal to orbit the earth.
She was a stray selected from the streets of Moscow to go through with the mission. At the time, de-orbiting had not been attempted, and Laika’s mission had a ill fate.
She would not be returned to earth after takeoff, and reportedly died from overheating several hours into the flight.
Laika is depicted standing on top of a rocket in a statue near the research facility in Moscow that organized her mission.
Read more about Laika here: http://time.com/3546215/laika-1957/
5. Sgt. Stubby
The most decorated war dog of World War I was a mixed terrier named Sergeant Stubby.
Official mascot of the 102nd Infantry Regiment for the United States, Stubby served through seventeen battles over the course of 18 months in France. He protected his regiment from mustard gas, and even held a German soldier by the seat of his pants until his team could find him.
Even through multiple grenade and gas injuries, Sergeant Stubby continued serving until he returned home and later became mascot for Georgetown University.
Read more about Sgt. Stubby here: http://www.ct.gov/mil/cwp/view.asp?a=1351&q=257892
An Akita dog in Japan, Hachikōwas known to be an example of animal loyalty and fidelity.
He faithfully met his owner, Hidesaburō Ueno, at the Shibuya train station at the end of each work day. The two met at the station to walk home each day from 1924-1925 before Ueno suffered a fatal brain hemorrhage.
Hachikō continued waiting at the train station for Ueno each day for the next nine years, nine months, and fifteen days until his death in 1935.
Each year on March 8, Hachikō’s loyalty is honored with a ceremony of at the Shibuya station.
Warning: Sadness alert. The story of Hachiko is incredible, but it’s incredibly heart breaking. Richard Gere starred in a movie about Hachi that is worth a watch, but make sure you have some tissues close by. (Watch the movie here)
This German Shepherd was a famous rescue dog in Hungary during the 1990s and 2000s. Mancs, whose name means “paw,” excelled at locating earthquake survivors beneath the rubble of destroyed buildings.
He and his owner, László Lehóczki, partook in multiple rescue missions. Mancs became famous for helping rescue a trapped 3-year-old in Turkey who spend more than 80 hours beneath rubble during the Izmit earthquake of 1999. A statue of his likeness was erected in 2004 om downtown Miskolc.
Read more about Mancs here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mancs_(dog)
Rags was a mixed-breed terrier war dog adopted by the 1st Division in 1918 during WWI. He was trained to deliver messages between the front lines and headquarters.
Rags was celebrated for delivering an important, life-saving message to the front lines despite having been gassed, bombed, and partially blinded on the way.
He was presented numerous awards and medals for his service and later became celebrated in magazines and newspapers.
In 1923, Bobbie, a Scotch Collie/English Shepherd mix, was made famous for finding his way back home over 2,551 miles after going missing on a family vacation. Bobbie and his owners were separated while on vacation in Indiana.
After an extensive search, the family returned to their home in Oregon, sure that they would never see their beloved pet again.
Nearly six months later, Bobbie showed up at his family’s home, having made the journey on foot to reunite with his family.
Bobbie was made famous for his long journey and even acted as himself in a film about his amazing trip.
Check out this book written in his honor: Bobbie the Wonder Dog: A True Story
Appollo is a famous police dog known best as being the first rescue dog on the scene at the World Trade Centers during the September 11 attacks.
He and his handler, Peter Davis, were involved in the search and rescue missions during 9/11 and faced death to save people from the fallen buildings.
Appollo received the Dickin Medal, which is the animal version of the Victoria Cross, for his service rescuing citizens from the towers.
This brave war dog is best known for his attack on Japanese soldiers during the Battle of Hong Kong. Gander joined The Royal Rifles of Canada and shipped out to Hong Kong with them in 1941.
After fighting multiple times, Gander lost his life saving those of his soldiers by picking up a thrown hand grenade and rushing towards the Japanese, sacrificing himself, but saving the lives of several Canadian soldiers.
He was honored with a Dickin Medal and later memorialized with a statue in Gander, Newfoundland.
This Labrador retriever saved thousands of lives during the serial bomb blasts in March 1993 by detecting more than 3,329 kg of the explosive RDX, 600 detonators, 249 hand grenades, and 6,406 rounds of live ammunition.
He was buried with full honors during a ceremony attended by senior police officials. He is Mumbai’s most famous dog.
Over to You
It’s been our experience that each of our own dogs have been brave in some way or another throughout our lives.
We’d love to hear your own stories in the comments below.
Far and away the bravest dog I’ve ever heard of was Polo. A non-pedigreed dog, Polo lay on top of a baby, covering her, during a fire in their family’s home in Baltimore in 2016. Because he shielded her, the child lived, although badly burned on part of her body. Polo died, apparently after holding his position the whole time fire consumed the room around him until firefighters arrived. He deserves to be high on you list of bravest dogs.
Outdoor Dog World says
Just read about that story here: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/beloved-dog-dies-after-saving-baby-from-fire/