The Development of the US Army Dog Gas Mask
- During WWII many countries developed gas masks for animals. And dogs in particular had various integral roles during the war. For the US military, the German Shepherd was typically the dog of choice, and was used for patrol duty, scouting, anti-sabotage duty, message delivery and even sometimes mine detection. Because of their many uses during wartime, gas masks were needed to protect dogs as well as their human counterparts. This however, was not a new concept. During WWI, very rudimentary dog gas masks were made by several countries. And in the US, an early attempt to provide dogs with a protective mask was made in 1926. The E1R1 Dog Gas Mask (see below) was a strictly experimental mask, assembled to illustrate the concept of a protective respirator for canines. It consisted of a muzzle piece constructed of six layers of impregnated cheesecloth and a head piece made from leather that covered the dog's head, ears and part of the dog's neck. Leather straps were used like belts to tighten the mask around the dog's neck, creating a gas tight seal. Two circular eye pieces were positioned on either side of the leather head piece to allow for sufficient vision. The E1R1 was a small mask, made to fit medium to small sized dogs of approximately 50-60 pounds.