5 Working Dogs Who Became Heroes

Working dog Sergeant Stubby

Along with two-legged workers, the police, military, and other working dogs who spend most of their lives keeping us safe should be recognized as well on Labor Day.

Many of these dogs have gone far above and beyond the line of duty to save lives. Meet just a few of these four-legged heroes.

Sgt. Stubby

Working dog Sgt. Stubby
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Stubby was just a stray when John Robert Conroy rescued him on a Yale University field in 1917. After Conroy smuggled him aboard a ship to France during World War I, Stubby became a working dog. He was the most decorated war dog in U.S. history and the only one promoted to sergeant.

Sgt. Stubby saved many lives by warning troops of mustard gas and crawling under barbed wire to save wounded soldiers.

Last year, Sgt. Stubby was honored with a statue in his home state of Connecticut, and the story of this amazing dog is told in the computer-animated movie Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero.


For his heroism during four tours of duty in Vietnam, a Navy SEAL dog named Prince was awarded two Purple Hearts, which are usually only given to humans.

Among this working dog’s many heroic acts were leading his patrol to a stash of hidden enemy weapons and tracking down two Viet Cong leaders hiding in tunnels.

The fate of Prince, a former police dog, wasn’t known until recently. Sadly, like so many four-legged heroes of the Vietnam War, Prince never got the retirement he deserved back home in the U.S.


A French National Police dog, Diesel was trained to use her remarkable sense of smell to detect explosives. After the horrific attacks on Paris in November 2015, the 7-year-old Belgian Malinois was sent ahead of her human partners into an apartment where terrorists were believed to be hiding, to assess the situation.

Tragically, Diesel never made it out alive. She was shot and killed by the terrorists, and mourned by animal lovers around the world.

For her bravery, Diesel was posthumously awarded the Dickin Medal, which is the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.


Riley’s rambunctious personality didn’t jive with the family who’d rescued him as a puppy in 2008, so he was surrendered to a rescue group.

Ten years later, Riley was one of several search-and-rescue dogs who helped save lives by locating victims of the devastating January 2018 mudslide in Montecito, Calif.


Along with his handler, Officer Dave Winans of the San Diego Police Department, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois named Dexter has countless arrests under his collar.

While responding to a 911 call in February 2018, Dexter was stabbed several times by a suspect with a knife. The suspect was apprehended and charged with several crimes, including felony assault of a police dog. Fortunately, after emergency surgery, Dexter fully recovered and is back on the job.

Because of the sacrifice Dexter made to save his fellow officers, this hero dog was a recipient of the 2018 AKC Paw of Courage award.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

This story was originally published on Care2.com.

Laura Goldman

I am a freelance writer and lifelong dog lover. For five years, I was a staff writer for i Love Dogs. When that site shut down, I started this blog...because I STILL Love Dogs!