U.S.M.C. Bulldog Tattoo

The tradition of using an English bulldog as a mascot for the United States Marine Corps has its roots in the early part of the last century, in the fighting campaigns of World War I. In an interesting bit of turnaround, it is not an image which comes from within Marine Corps ranks but instead comes from the hard won respect of their foes. German soldiers referred to the Marines as teufel hunden or “devil dogs” undoubtedly owing to their hellacious fighting ability. The Marine Corps apparently warmed to the compliment immediately and a recruiting poster of the era explicitly stated “Teufel Hunden, German Nickname for U.S. Marines” and gave the address of the “Devil Dog Recruiting Station”.

U.S.M.C. bulldog tattoo design by Greg James.

U.S.M.C. bulldog tattoo design by Greg James.

The poster showed a dachshund (which is also sometimes called a “weiner dog”) wearing a spiked helmet with an Iron Cross (a German military medal) looking backwards as it ran from an English bulldog which wore a helmet with the Marine’s globe and anchor insignia. Not long after, real bulldogs were adopted as mascots in various parts of the Corps. At times given names and even ranks, some of these faithful mascots logged thousands of miles with their owners and namesakes. Today, the USMC bulldog ranks firmly in the minds not only of “devil dog” Marines but also the public as one of the most recognized mascots of the military.


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