A military dog who lost her leg on duty in Afghanistan is to receive the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

Lucca lost one of her front legs during a search for improvised explosive devices in 2012.

The 12-year-old German Shepherd completed more than 400 missions with the US Marine Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan – helping protect thousands of troops.

Now retired, she has been flown from California to be presented with the Dickin Medal at Wellington Barracks in London.

Corporal Juan Rodriguez stayed with Lucca during surgery.

Corporal Juan Rodriguez stayed with Lucca during surgery

Lucca’s handler, Gunnery Sergeant Christopher Willingham told Sky News is was an “incredible honour” to receive the award.

“It is very humbling to be part of this entire process. I think more importantly is that Lucca’s accomplishments are going to help bring awareness and recognition too all our military working dogs and their handlers.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for the dog handlers who have served before me and allowed me to do my job today.

“I have had the privilege of serving with some of the finest, both in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The award was founded in 1943 and is bestowed by the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA).

Jan McLoughlin, from the charity, said: “Lucca’s conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty makes her a hugely deserving recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal.

“Her ability and determination to seek out arms and explosives preserved human life amid some of the world’s fiercest military conflicts.”

The award has previously been given to 29 dogs, 32 World War Two messenger pigeons, three horses and one cat.