What are the Risk Factors for Injury among Military Working Dogs deployed to Iraq?

Research Paper Title

Risk factors for injury among military working dogs deployed to Iraq.


There is limited literature concerning the types of injuries that military working dogs (MWDs) face while in a deployed theater of operations and associated risk factors.


To summarise injuries and identify injury risk factors in MWDs during their first deployments to Iraq, demographic and medical data were collected for 794 MWDs from the US Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps that deployed to Iraq between 20 March 2003 and 31 December 2007.


Sixty-two percent (n = 490) had a medical encounter during deployment. Injuries were categorised as traumatic or musculoskeletal. MWD demographics, characteristics, and injury types were summarised. Injury risk factors were assessed using multivariable logistic regression.

A majority of the population were German Shepherds (56 %), intact males (49 %), and dogs certified in both patrol and explosives detection (73 %).

During their first deployment to Iraq, 20 % (n = 156) experienced an injury.

Risk factors included breed, age, and occupational certification. Belgian Malinois and Labrador Retriever dogs had greater odds of injury compared to German Shepherds (p = 0.04 and p = 0.02) and the oldest MWDs had about a 50 % higher risk of injury compared to the youngest (p = 0.01), especially for musculoskeletal injuries.

MWDs with Specialised Search certification were at increased injury risk (p = 0.02).


Training, equipment, and supplies for veterinary service personnel, MWD handlers, and MWDs should be tailored with consideration of the injury risks of the MWD population.

Further study is needed to investigate chronic injuries in military working dogs to better understand causation and prevention.


Mey, W., Schuh-Renner, A., Anderson, M.K., Stevenson-LaMartina, H. & Grier, T. (2020) Risk factors for injury among military working dogs deployed to Iraq. Preventive Veterinary Medicine. 176:104911. doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2020.104911. Epub 2020 Feb 4.


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