F. Other Significant World War II Sites on Guam
IV. War Dog Cemetery
The War Dog Cemetery is 2.2 miles southwest of Vigo at V-paopao Estates on the north side of Highway 1. The small cemetery contains the graves of 24 war dogs who served in combat on Guam. The grassy plot is surrounded by a low iron-pipe fence, and a thicket of tangantangan hides the area from view. The grave markers are concrete, painted white, with an indented dog's profile painted black. Originally each marker identified the dog it represented. Now, however, the markers are blank. A 1947 photograph shows that a wooden fence originally surrounded the cemetery and a marker proclaimed it "Dogs of War" cemetery. At that time, the plot was part of a larger, landscaped area. Today, there is no marker on the highway to identify the site. After turning off the highway and driving a short distance in the community of Y-paopao Estates, one sees a metal sign that indicates the land leading to the cemetery. The U.S. Air Force maintains the area.
During the Guam campaign, the Third Marine Division employed 60 dogs in the battle. They engaged in three activities: message carrying, patrols, and night security duty. Because of the excellent radio communications, messenger dogs were rarely employed. Patrol dogs, however, were overworked, partaking in 454 patrols. In general, combat personnel were enthusiastic about employing the dogs in patrol and sentry duty, but the experience on Guam provided important lessons for future combat.
Before arriving in the Pacific, the patrol dogs had been trained on a leash. It was then discovered that leashed dogs made considerable noise in the jungle and their alertness was diminished. Retraining for off-leash patrolling had to be instituted. Many of the dogs were Doberman pinschers. As a rule, this breed proved unsuited for combat because it was highly tempermental and nervous. German sheperds, however, proved exceptionally suited to the work. Moreover, if its handler was taken out of action (casualties among handlers were high), the shepherd would readily respond to another handler. Most of the shepherds were less than pure bred, which was thought to contribute to their steadiness. A lone Labrador retriever worked exceptionally well in combat until killed. Contrary to popular thought, females stood up to combat conditions better than males. It was noted, however, that females should be spayed. One unforeseen problem was the tendency of the war dogs to destroy the local canine population.
Of the Third Marine Division's 60 dogs, 9 were killed in action, 3 were missing in action, and 3 were wounded. The cause of death of the other 9 dogs buried in the cemetery is not yet known. Most likely they were dogs assigned to the First Provisional Marine Brigade. 
Last Updated: 07-Mar-2005