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Working Dogs

Dog information for Large Dog Breeds
Used as a Working Dog

Working DogsMore Workding Dog Information

   A Working dog can make an excellent pet, and for many people these are the favorite type of companion dog!

Rescue Dogs, Guide Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Guard Dogs, Police Dogs, Sled Dogs, and more - these are Working Dogs. Working dog breeds were bred to watch over and defend people, their property, and their livestock. They have been used to help guard estates and livestock, pull carts and sleds, as rescue dogs, and to serve in war. Some breeds were bred to have close human bonds, others to bond with and defend livestock and have less affinity to people.

Working dogs are large and strong dogs. Those that were bred for human companionship tend to be gentle with friends and family. But they are protective and can be reserved with strangers. They can also be fierce when provoked. These dogs must be properly trained. It's important to know what the type of work the dog was bred for, as many are not suitable as pets for the average family.


Working Dog Backgrounds

   Throughout history all dog breeds were developed by man for some particular work or purpose. The Working Dog Breeds were bred for heavy work such as pulling carts and sleds, or to guard livestock and property. The oldest of these breeds, the Tibetan Mastiff, was used as a guard dog for thousands of years. Many of the modern working dog breeds are believed to have been developed from its lineage.

   Working dogs are highly intelligent, large and strong, and can be fierce in their work. Those working breeds living closely with people were not developed as a house pet, but rather as a defender or guardian. But this close companionship developed into a strong affinity for their families. Some working breeds were developed as guardians over those that were lost and injured, rescuing people from cold water or snowy avalanches.

   Working breeds kept with the animals they guarded, developed an affinity for their herd. These breeds tend to be most comfortable with other animals and wary of people. Northern breeds bred to pull sleds with other dogs, developed their affinity to the pack. These breeds tend to be most comfortable with other dogs and more aloof towards people.

   Besides being guard dogs, search and rescue dogs, and sled dogs, there are a variety of other jobs Working Dogs are developed and trained for. Working Dog Breeds are used as hunting dogs, therapy dogs, guide dogs, assistance dogs, mascots, tracking and fighting dogs, detection dogs, with their guard dog instincts they were used as herding dogs, war dogs, as well as a police dog and cadaver dog. As you can see, those are a lot of jobs, and the list these dogs are capable of goes far beyond this.

   There are many other dog breeds that also perform work, but kennel clubs do not group them with the Working Dog Breeds. The Sporting Dog Breeds and Hound Dog Breeds were bred to hunt and track birds and animals. Herding Dog Breeds were primarily developed to control and herd other animals. Terrier Dog Breeds also work, bred to hunt and catch vermin. Many other small breeds to large breeds were developed for a large variety of other tasks or purposes, with a primary aim of also being good companions. These are grouped as the Toy Dog Breeds, Non-Sporting Dog Breeds, and the Mixed Dog Breeds which includes the 'Designer Dogs'.

Working Dog Breeds

   There is a wide diversity of Working Dog Breeds, stemming from the multiple tasks they have been and still are used for. Though they are bred for specific types of work, they are highly intelligent and are trained for a great number of specific tasks.

Northern Dogs - Spitz Dogs:   The working dogs from northern climates do best in cool temperatures. Being developed as part of a pack, they generally get along well with other dogs. These dogs may be a bit more aloof with a single person, again because their preference is to mingle with a group, or pack.

   These dogs will roam, and can be great escape artists. Many are multi-talented dogs that serve as hunters, herders, sled dogs and companions. These are also known as Spitz dogs, and can be easily identified by their double coats, pricked ears, and a tail that curls up and over the back. They are wolf like in appearance and behavior. The Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, and the Samoyed were primarily used as sled dogs. Whereas the Akita was originally a guard dog or fighting dog.

Guard Dogs:    A large number of working dogs were bred to serve primarily as guard dogs, watching over people, property, or livestock. The Tibetan Mastiff, serving for thousands of years, is the oldest of these breeds. Some, like the Doberman and the Rottweiler, were developed with close bonds to their family and often served as personal guards. Others were developed with close bonds to the livestock they protected, and independent of people.

Popular Working Dogs

This group includes most of the guard dog breeds as well as the northern northern dog breeds. The most popular types of working dogs are:

  • Boxer
  • Rottweiler
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Great Dane
  • Siberian Husky
  • Mastiff
  • Saint Bernard
  • Bullmastiff
  • Newfoundland
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Schnauzers

Popular Northern Dogs:    Some of the best known northern dogs are:

  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Siberian Husky
  • Samoyed
  • Akita.

  Those recognized for their search and rescue abilities include:

  • Saint Bernard
  • Newfoundland
  • Bernese Mountain Dog


Popular Guard Dogs:    Some of the more familiar working dogs that were developed as guard dogs include:

  • Antolian Shepherd Dog
  • Black Russian Terrier
  • Boxer
  • Bullmastiff
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Dogue de Bordeaux
  • Great Dane
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
  • Domondor
  • Duvasz
  • Mastiff
  • Neapolitan Mastiff
  • Rottweiler
  • Waint Bernard
  • Tibetan Mastiff

Dog Care Tips for Working Dogs

   Working Dogs are greatly admired for their responsiveness and their temperament. They can make wonderful, loving pets. These breeds need a fair amount of living space, and with the exception of some of the guardian types, most working dogs need a lot of exercise.

   A lot of the working dogs have thick double coats. These breeds can be heavy shedders and require regular grooming. All large dogs tend to have a shorter lifespan and many can develop joint disorders and hip dysplasia.

  Working dogs will require training as they are quite large and do not know their own strength. They also need good socialization. Understand that these dogs were bred to do a job. Working dogs are highly active and must be provided with a job or other stimulating activities to keep them busy.

   If left alone for long periods of time or not provided with enough exercise or stimulation, these intelligent animals will find something to do. The activities of a bored working dog are often digging, chewing, excessive barking, and attempting to escape. They are happiest when living up to their name and doing work for their owners.

A note about Guard Dogs:    Keep in mind that many of the Working Dog Breeds are inherently guardians. These dogs are large, but most tend to be gentle, if somewhat reserved with people. But they can be fierce if provoked. Most of these guardian type dogs can and do make great family companions. But due to their size and their instinctive wariness of strangers, all the guardian type Working dogs must be very well socialized as puppies.

  It is very important to know the background of the guardian type breed you are interested in beforehand. In generally most breeds are friendly with their family, but some can be wary of strangers and protective. Even with good socialization, some of the guardian type dogs may not be reliable. These dogs require firm consistent training from an owner who is experienced with guardian type dogs and understands their special needs.

   Some exceptional guardian types that make really good family pets include the Boxer. It has been well developed for over a hundred years as a companion animal. Others, like the Saint Bernard and the Newfoundland, were developed as guardians of missing people. They served as search and rescue dogs and also make excellent family pets. But even these giant dogs, because of their large size and for the safety of children and fragile people, will also require training and need good socialization.


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