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Working Dog Breeds

16 May 2013 | by Shilpy | Posted in: Wag Wiki

Most of our pets are spoiled ‘brats’ who do not need to work harder than pleading for their favourite treats. However, many dog breeds were originally domesticated for working. Having a fair knowledge of what your pooch was meant to do can actually help you in interpreting his/her behaviour. If you are looking for a dog, knowing about different dog breeds can help you to choose one which fits your family needs and environment.

Working dogs is a group of diverse dog breeds, disciplined in various skills. Working dogs are known to be very intelligent and robust. Used for guarding livestock and property, military dogs, police dogs, rescue dogs, sled dogs, these dogs differ in shapes and sizes. Due to their strength and size, working dogs require a structured, disciplined life and consistent training. Some of the dogs like Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute are known as guard dogs. They are very protective and hence need lots of interaction with people and correct training.

Some of the working dog breeds have soft and easy to maintain coat while some of the breeds have thick coat. But in general they are smart and fearless and can be fun loving or sober. These dogs are trained for different trades or disciplines. Determined breeds like Dobermans, Akitas and Rottweilers are extremely popular and trendy among working dog breeds.

Various types of working dogs

Therapy dogs :

Therapy dogs are trained to provide comfort and affection to people in elderly homes, hospitals, nursing homes and schools. They also undergo training to help people with learning disabilities and stressful situations. The most important trait of these dogs is their temperament. A good therapy dog is friendly, gentle, patient, confident and calm in all situations. These types of dogs enjoy human contact and feel contented when petted and handled. Most of the therapy dogs contribute to their services by playing small tricks or structured games with their patients. In hospices, therapy dogs reduce death anxiety by providing palliative care. According to a study, interaction with therapy dog increases oxytocin (bonding) and dopamine (happiness) levels while reducing cortisol ( stress)1.

Rescue dogs:

Rescue dogs are trained to help people in difficult situations such as taking people out during boat disasters.

Search dogs:

Search dogs search missing people, lost in wilderness, runaways from hospitals, lost in snow avalanches or buried under collapsed buildings.

Herding dogs:

Herding dogs are also known as stock dogs. Dogs like German Shephards, Komondors, Shetland sheepdogs were originally bred to assist ranchers to move their flocks of sheep. Apart from this, herding dogs are naturally protective, which makes them good for guarding and reserved in presence of strangers. Petting a herding dog becomes painful if you do not give him the outlet to fulfil his drive of chasing and herding. Give him an outlet by playing games of fetch, taking him to a herding union or involving him in agility games. If you do not give an occupation, he will choose the one he likes, such as nibbling your shoes, chasing cat for hours or sometimes herding children into a corner!

Bird dogs:

Dogs like retrievers, setters, Cocker spaniels, Springer spaniel, poodle, Portugese water dog are very popular in US. These were bred to help hunters find and retrieve their hunting game. 

If your house is run by these easy going breeds, you can be sure of two things. Firstly, they have lots of energy and secondly, they will perhaps jump in water any chance he gets. No doubt they will be smart and loyal and do best if given a chance. These are good at fetching and doc diving. They are great with children and work as amazing therapy dogs as well.

Sled dogs:

Earlier dogs were trained to assist in shipping people and goods in snowy and rough terrain. However, at present their use is limited only to sporting events.

Entertainment dogs:

Dog actors and circus dogs perform acts which provide entertainment and fun to the spectators.

Guard dogs:

Breeds like giant Tibetan mastiffs, giant schnauzers, Doberman pinchers, cane corsos are known as guard dogs. They are often aggressive and unreliable as they turn to be violent when it comes to guarding their home. Remember, they behave that way because they are bred to be that way.

If you have chosen this dog for your home, it is important to socialise him when he is still a puppy. Puppies who socialize with strangers ( kids, dogs and other pets) are likely to be less aggressive when they get old. These breeds are very intelligent and easy to train. They can be easily trained for various disciplines like obedience, therapy, search and rescue etc.

Tracking dogs

Tracking dogs are trained for helping lost people or tracking criminals. These dogs were originally bred to help hunters in their hunting games but instead of using their eyes, they use their nose. Breeds like bloodhound, beagle, coon hound belong to this group. They have an amazing sense of smell. Even with no prior training, they can identify a scent they pick up.

So, letting a hound off his leash is not a good idea if you have not given him recall training.

Human Remains Detection/Cadaver dog:

These types of dogs use their smell power to detect human remains during crimes, suicides, disasters or accidents.

Detecting dogs:

Dogs are trained to detect illegal substances in baggage, bombs, chemicals and other harmful substances.

Military dogs:

Military trains dogs for mine detection, investigating and tracking terrorist activities. These dogs are trained in a more formal way to assist military tasks. Popular dogs in this category are Labrador retrievers.

Regardless of which type of breed you love and select, if you know his drives, you can easily train him to hold back his urge instinct and aim him to do what is more productive. Example -redirecting him to chew a toy instead your furniture. Most importantly, take out time to understand how amazing are his natural qualities and have fun with them!

Some of the working dog breeds and their qualities



Great den

Gentle, friendly, confident, devoted, reserved

Black Russian terrier

Lively, energetic, brave, confident, stable

English mastiff

Calm, protective, good natured, courageous and dignified

Bull Mastiff

Alert, devoted, loyal, docile, powerful, protective, calm, reserved

Brazillian Mastiff

Brave, courageous, obedient, docile

Siberian husky

Gentle, alert, intelligent, friendly, outgoing


Giant, energetic, mild temperament and easy to train

Old English Sheepdog

Bubbly, intelligent, playful, social


Playful, intelligent, friendly, loyal, fearless, confident, bright and cheerful


Good natured, alert, calm, courageous, confident, steady


Patient, independent, protective, clownish

Argentine Dogo

Cheerful, tolerant, faithful, friendly

Alano Espanol

Friendly, dominant, obedient, affectionate, loyal

Doberman Pinscher

Energetic, loyal, fearless, intelligent, alert

Great Pyrenees

Strong willed, fearless, patient, gentle

American Akita

Dignified, friendly, loyal, courageous, responsive

German Pinscher

Even tempered, loving, intelligent, lively


Affectionate, gentle, fearless, steady

Bernese Mountain Dog

Loyal, loving, intelligent

Labrador Retriever

Kind, pleasant, outgoing and energetic

Border Colie

Athletic, energetic, acrobatic and intelligent


I would like to quote something which I read in ‘Cesar’s Way’ by Cesar Milan, “I rehabilitate dogs. I train people. Learn what goes on inside your dog’s mind and develop a positive, fulfilling relationship with your best friend.”

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