In the QI episode about killers the panel mentions that German SS soldiers during WWII were given puppies at the start of their training to raise, and then they were required to kill the dogs at the end of the training.

I found that the same claim was made about various armies and/or units: Iraqi, Israeli, American, Russian and others.

A thread at Snopes forum

Yahoo answers

I found some references that the Bolivian army used dogs as live targets, but I couldn't find any credible sources reporting this, the most credible source was PETA, but I couldn't find the story in any large news outlet online even though Peta claim:

...the Bolivian minister of defense went on that country’s national television to announce an historic ban on all animal abuse in military training exercises, stating that the Bolivian government is issuing Resolution 217 to prohibit all acts of violence, exploitation, and mistreatment that provokes the death of animals.

And that post was published on April 1st, 2009.

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    @Dan, there is a great difference between what is shown in "survival" reality tv and what is taught in the military. But even if it was, this is not what the claim is about. The claim is about militaries forcing soldiers to kill animals in order to make them more cruel.
    – SIMEL
    Commented Dec 19, 2013 at 22:40
  • @IlyaMelamed gotcha, I misread it as simply verifying that soldiers actually do kill animals in training (they do). I didn't realize you were asking if this was with the intent of desensitization - which will be a little harder to verify. My apologies.
    – Dan
    Commented Dec 19, 2013 at 22:52
  • This seems to verify the Bolivian Army story; laht.com/article.asp?CategoryId=14919&ArticleId=330920
    – Richard
    Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 22:19
  • The killing the training dog theme occurs in the novel Armageddon: A Novel of Berlin (1963) by Leon Uris. That gives a minimum age for the idea relative to the SS. I don't know if he invented the story or whether it reflected his research (flawed or otherwise).
    – user28571
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 7:55
  • Why you worried about the puppies? The SS shot Soviet POW's on a regular basis.
    – jjack
    Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 20:01

2 Answers 2


Clearly this question can not be answered in the negative since we lack the history for all armed forces since the beginning of time. However, with reference to the SS, this has been outed as an urban legend on many sites.

If you think about it, raising that many puppies for the SS is clearly not feasible. You would have to have farms of dogs (or puppy farms) to have enough puppies to give to each SS trainee. Each trainee would then have to raise each puppy, feed them, clean up their poop, take them walking to encourage bonding etc. That's a lot of time out of one's training, and a lot of barking dogs in a training camp. It's just not feasible.

Furthermore, the German Chancellor at the time, Adolf Hitler, signed into law in 1933 a law on animal protection which would have made such treatment of dogs illegal.

According to Wikipedia, dogs were very fashionable during the Third Reich.[1]

[1] Sax, Boria (2000). Animals in the Third Reich: Pets, Scapegoats, and the Holocaust. Foreword by Klaus P. Fischer. New York and London: Continuum. ISBN 978-0-8264-1289-8

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    The main thrust of this argument is personal incredulity. Why should we believe you when you say it isn't feasible?
    – Oddthinking
    Commented May 29, 2014 at 10:33
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    I agree that we lack the history for all the armed forces since the beginning of time. That is why an answer can deal only with a subset of military forces, for example, modern armies. What you are saying is a. not backed by evidence. b. doesn't say that it couldn't happen on a smaller scale, for example only the officers course of the SS would kill puppies, or the special genocide units. Also, saying that the third rich couldn't do something because there was a law against it isn't a very convincing argument. Please provide a credible source saying it didn't happen.
    – SIMEL
    Commented May 29, 2014 at 11:10
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    emmetcounty.org/vic-fornes-532 “The Japanese taught their soldiers that to be a U.S. Marine, you had to kill your parents. They were told a lot of very bad things. They would not surrender to the Marines. At the end of the island was a cliff, and they would run and jump off the cliff or be shot and die rather than surrender to a Marine,” Fornes said. So, this was Japanese propaganda spread to their troops. Likely the puppy story is the same spread to US troops. Can it ever be proved now? Are any US Generals alive or others who disseminated this story going to speak? Sorry.
    – HappySpoon
    Commented May 29, 2014 at 19:45
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    There is never going to be any definitive answer; one can only provide the most probable answer .. since this story has been told in varying forms about different military units around the world in different forms as the example I just provided shows, it stands as an urban myth.
    – HappySpoon
    Commented May 29, 2014 at 19:52
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    It is obviously feasible, if requiring a significant effort. What would be infeasible would be hiding that large of a practice.
    – Jonathon
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 17:55

Origins: While the training to become a member of the U.S. Marine Corps is indeed rigorous and demanding, at no point does it involve the murder of family members. Such tales endeavor to confirm belief that those serving in elite military units are the ultimate professional soldiers — cold, methodical, and efficient — even as they offer explanation for how these fighting men came to be that way (by having all compassion and kindness trained out of them). Stories like these work as advance propaganda, instilling fear in potential enemies of the two-legged killing machines that will be unleashed upon them should peaceful attempts to reconcile differences be discarded in favor of military ones.

So it would seem that marines at least have been proven to not kill puppies during training. I don't know about the other branches, but the site says that lots of rumors about training for special forces or marines aren't true.



  • 2
    Your quote mentions only "family members"; I know some people consider their pets "part of the family", but I think assuming that interpretation out of context is a bit of a stretch.
    – IMSoP
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 19:09

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