Q&a | AskTOP.net - Leader Development for Army Professionals
Company Command: The Bottom Line - Army Leadership Guide

Why do Military Working Dogs Out Rank their Handler?

Does a Military Working Dog Always out rank their handler? If so why?

Wear it Right! Army Uniform Tool

I could not find an Official Army Regulation stating the dogs will outrank their handler.  It appears to be a Tradition. Here is what I did find:


  1. According to a 2011 blog post by the US Military, military service dogs are all NCO – non commissioned officers – and are given a rank higher than their handler. This tradition is in place to maintain order while training and on missions. As a higher ranking officer, any mistreatment of the dog will result in severe disciplinary action for the handler, thus ensuring the dog is being treated well within the military
  2. TRADOC BLOG Post: A Unique Bond Every military working dog is an NCO – in tradition at least. Some say the custom was to prevent handlers from mistreating their dogs; hence, a dog is always one rank higher than its handler. https://www.army.mil/article/56965/

Follow us and never miss a post!

Mark is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with 26 years of military leadership experience. He held 3 military occupational specialties (Field Artillery, Nuclear Weapons Tech, and Ammunition Ordnance). Mark is one of the leading military authors in the fields of leadership, counseling, and training.

You might be interested in…

Army Uniform Tool

Disclaimer: Though all content posted on AskTOP.net is reviewed by our qualified subject matter experts, you should not make decisions based solely on the information contained in this post. Use information from multiple sources when making important professional decisions. This is not an official government website.


  • Stephen Ryan


    Good article! Thanks for the great explanation of what military dogs do.

  • Stephen Ryan


    There are currently ~1,600 dogs serving the military. Their missions span across the land, air, and sea! Military dogs are trained for specific jobs. They may patrol, search and rescue, detect, track, and attack.

    Leave a Comment

    We will never publish or sell your email address, nor will we ever send you information you have not requested.