Dog Tags and Challenge Coins: A Perfect Combination

Did you know that challenge coins could be shaped like a dog tag? Dog tags were originally used in war to provide important information about a soldier, such as name, blood type, religion, etc. Over the years, they have become something of a novelty for soldiers and civilians. Now with the new design options of challenge coins, dog tags can display all kinds of creative images and symbols. Knowing the design options that are available to you will help you to customize the perfect challenge coin dog tag.


Military service people around the world use dog tags. What every country’s dog tags have in common is they are used to provide vital information for each individual soldier.

Going back to the United States Civil War, soldiers realized that they needed some kind of identification to be recognized if they were mortally wounded in battle. This way their family members would be able to bury them. Because they did not have customized dog tags, soldiers would attach a piece of paper on the back of their coats with their name and home address. Others would carve their identification information on the back of a belt buckle.

Dog Tag Challenge CoinAfter the Civil War, it became clear that there was a need to provide soldiers with a way to be identified. That’s when dog tags became standard military paraphernalia. Since then, dog tags have been provided in every major American war including:

• World War I
• World War II
• Vietnam

Dog tags are still used today by military combatants around the world. Thanks to innovations offered by manufacturers of challenge coins, dog tags have all kinds of new designs on them.


When looking for a challenge coins in the form of a dog tag, you want to consider a number of things. One of the first questions you should ask yourself is: how do I want to carry my dog tag? Challenge coins shaped as dog tags can connect to a key chain, tie around your neck, or simply be placed in your pocket. A new trend that you might find fun is having your challenge coin dog tag designed as a bottle opener. It all depends on your preference.

The shape of your tag is also an important element. Some classic shapes of dog tag challenge coins that you may want to consider include:

• Rectangular
• Oblong
• Octagon
• Hexagon

Once you’ve decided on its purpose and shape, you’ll want to consider how you want to display your chosen design. Dog tag challenge coins can display designs in two ways:

• Horizontal
• Vertical

The horizontal display is ideal for tags with large pictures or emblems, while the vertical design has a teardrop look that many collectors find unique. In order to decide which one is right for you, first consider the imagery you want displayed on your dog tag. There are countless styles to pick from.

Classic Symbols

You design your traditionally shaped challenge coins how you like, and the same is true for dog tag challenge coins. Some of the classic designs include:

• Military branch seals (e.g. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Joint Chief of Staff)
• American Eagle
• Business card with owner’s signature and business address
• Engraving of a special date in history to honor heroics, hard work, and accomplishments

Very often dog tag challenge coins commemorate a special moment, or recognize unity and friendship between members of an organization. Whatever the purpose for your dog tag, make sure it includes the unique elements of the moment.

Challenge Coins Used Outside the Military

Challenge coins, once only give by the military, are now designed for other government agencies and for the private sector. The main use of these attractive medallions is for identification and awards. Also called honor coins, they boost morale in an organization when they are given to individuals or teams who have shown outstanding effort in their field.

custom challenge coinsCustom challenge coins are made for police and fire departments as well as emergency rescue units to honor the people who risk their lives in the line of duty. Military coins have much more meaning than merely an award. To the person who receives it, or to the family of a soldier killed in action, they represent a symbol of the ultimate sacrifice.

There are certain characteristics that challenge coins should have. First of all, it needs to have the name of the group, unit or company that is awarding the coin. The graphic or design should be attractive and, if possible, inspiring. The style, symbolism and theme should be unique. The color should be suitable for the purpose of the coin. Other considerations are whether a mascot, logo or motto should also be on the coin.

Custom challenge coins also represent strong ties between scout troops, school and college associations, religious groups as well as groups that join together to save the environment, beautify a city or promote literacy.

Challenge coins may be worn around the neck, but are generally not turned into paperweights or coffee mug decorations. Traditionally, they should always be kept with the recipient as a coin and shown to anyone who asks to see it. They can be kept in a pocket or purse but not left on a desk or dresser at home. Members of a group who carry challenge coins can challenge another member to show their coin.

Whether challenge coins are given for extraordinary military service or for recognition of a job beyond the expectations of leaders in the private sector, they represent a specific action or time in the recipient’s life. They are cherished as a representation of acknowledgment from superiors as well as proof of belonging to a distinguished group.

Challenge Coins

Challenge coins are important symbols of military pride that have a long standing tradition among the ranks. Each coin is distinct and carries the unit’s insignia or battle group. Custom challenge coins are used by the military and civic groups worldwide.

coinsCollectors can make or purchase elaborate displays to show off their collections in the home or office as well. These displays are sometimes crafted from fine or rare woods that make the conversation piece two-fold.

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