What Is a Devil Dog?

by Cato Conroy 3 years ago in marine corps

Devil Dogs are infamous among military people. So, what is a Devil Dog?

What Is a Devil Dog?

If you listen to historians, war has never seen a military branch as fearsome as the Devil Dogs. It's a phrase featured in war movies, books about dangerous army missions, motivational posters involving old-school soldiers, and almost all media that pays respect to the US military.

But, what is a Devil Dog, anyway? Believe it or not, though the term is regularly slung around military bases, most civilians don't know what Devil Dogs are — or if the term itself is archaic.

For civilians who aren't sure if they know a Devil Dog, or think that it's just some kind of hot dog style from Jersey, this article will explain all you need to know about Devil Dogs.

What is a Devil Dog?

Devil Dogs, plain and simple, are members of the US Marine Corps. There's no particular rank or file to associate with the nickname, either. So, if you know a soldier who's a Marine, then you know a Devil Dog. Seems like a strange nickname, doesn't it?

Well, there's a reason why Marines are called Devil Dogs. Here's the scoop on the old world nickname, and why it's become a source of pride for soldiers today...

Where did Devil Dogs get their name?

As is true with any other nickname, there was a point in American history that even military members would ask, "What is a Devil Dog?" That time, apparently, was prior to World War I — when the term first emerged as a mainstream nickname.

The term, "Devil Dog" was actually an English translation of the way that Germans in World War I would call American Marines who fought against them. Germans called them, "Teufel Hunde," "Teufelhunde," or "Höllenhunde."

According to certain legends, the Germans likened their vicious fighting to "the dogs from Hell," especially during a particularly bloody battle at Belleau Wood in 1918.

However, it seems like the Belleau Wood legend is just a legend; historians have found newspapers that printed news about Devil Dogs months before Belleau Wood's battle even happened. So, to a point, no one knows where the term came from, or who decided what is a Devil Dog first.

These days, "Devil Dog" is a motivational nickname for Marines. On the other hand, "devil dogging" is a phrase suggesting punishment for Marines who step out of line. After all, no one wants to be devil dogged; not even a real Devil Dog, himself.

Does the USMC Bulldog mascot have anything to do with the name?

The Marine Corps, as many people know, have an official mascot — the Bulldog. Though there are a lot of posters showing bulldogs "devil dogging" other armies out there, the truth is that this is actually just a coincidence in terms of name origin.

That being said, there's nothing more tenacious than a bulldog that's ticked; and what is a Devil Dog, if not a very tenacious soldier? So, even if it was a coincidence, it's one that definitely helps keep the Devil Dog nickname alive.

marine corps
Cato Conroy
Cato Conroy
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Cato Conroy

Cato Conroy is a Manhattan-based writer who yearns for a better world. He loves to write about politics, news reports, and interesting innovations that will impact the way we live.

See all posts by Cato Conroy