Working Dogs According to the American Kennel Club

Working dogs are defined by the American Kennel Club as canines that were bred for a specific job, such as herding livestock or guarding property. These dogs are often intelligent and trainable, with a strong work ethic and an even temperament. While many working dogs still perform their original purpose, others have been adapted for more modern roles, such as disability assistance or search and rescue.

Some of the most popular working dog breeds include:

  • German Shepherd – Originally bred for herding and guarding, German Shepherds are now commonly used as police and military dogs, as well as service animals for the disabled.
  • Labrador Retriever – One of the most popular family pets in the United States, the Lab was originally bred as a gun dog and still excels at hunting and retrieving.
  • Golden Retriever – Another popular American family pet, the Golden Retriever was originally bred as a gundog and still retains its passion for fetching.
  • Bulldog – The Bulldog is a stout and muscular dog that was originally used for bull-baiting (a now outlawed blood sport). Today, Bulldogs are gentle and loving family pets.
  • Rottweiler – The Rottweiler is a large and powerful breed that was originally bred for herding and guarding. Today, they are commonly used as police and military dogs.

While these are some of the most popular working dog breeds, there are many other breeds that can perform various working roles. If you’re interested in adding a working dog to your family, be sure to do your research to find the breed that best suits your needs and lifestyle.

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Service Dogs

Service dogs are specially trained to assist people with disabilities. These remarkable animals can perform a variety of tasks, such as opening doors, retrieving items and providing balance assistance. Some breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers, are particularly well-suited for service work due to their trainability, gentle nature and eagerness to please.

Service dogs must undergo rigorous training in order to be certified, and they undergo regular evaluations to ensure that they are still up to the task. These dogs provide an invaluable service to their human partners, and they should be respected and appreciated for their hard work.

Therapy Dogs

Therapy dogs are specially trained to provide comfort and support to people who are dealing with physical or mental health issues. These working dogs can help reduce anxiety, ease loneliness, and provide a sense of connection and comfort.

Studies have shown that therapy dogs can have a positive impact on both the mental and physical health of the people they interact with. For example, one study found that therapy dog visits reduced blood pressure and anxiety levels in hospital patients. Another study found that therapy dogs can help ease symptoms of depression and improve overall mood. If you are interested in bringing some joy into the lives of others, consider becoming a therapy dog handler. You could make a real difference in the lives of the people you meet.

Military Working Dogs

Military working dogs are highly trained canines that serve alongside soldiers in a variety of roles. They are often German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherd or a mix of the three breeds. From explosive detection to search and rescue, these dogs are an essential part of the military.

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These dogs are specially bred for their strength, stamina, and agility. In addition to their physical abilities, military working dogs must have a strong work ethic and be able to follow commands. As a result, these dogs are some of the most intelligent and versatile creatures in the military.

Guard Dogs

When it comes to choosing working dogs for guard duty, there are a number of factors to consider. Some breeds, such as Doberman Pinschers, are known for their loyalty and protective instincts. Others, like mastiffs, are known for their size and strength. But there are a few qualities that all good guard dogs share.

They should be trainable, intelligent, and able to form a strong bond with their owner. They should also be vigilant, courageous, and able to deter potential threats. Ultimately, the best guard dog is one that fits both the needs of the owner and the environment in which they will be working. 

Herding Dogs

Herding dogs are working dogs bred to herd livestock. The most common herding breeds include the Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, Briard, Canaan Dog, Collie, Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Shetland Sheepdog, and the Bernese Mountain Dog.

Herding dogs typically have high energy levels and are very intelligent, which makes them easy to train. They are also known for being loyal and protective of their family and property. While herding dogs were originally bred for farm work, many of them now serve as loyal companions or participate in dog sports such as agility and flyball.

Search-and-Rescue Dogs

Search-and-rescue dogs are specially trained to locate missing people. They are often used in disaster situations, such as after earthquakes or floods, when time is of the essence. These working dogs have keen noses and are able to track scents over long distances. Search-and-rescue dogs breeds include German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Bloodhounds, and Beagles.

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They also have a strong sense of obedience, which is essential in dangerous and life-threatening situations. While search-and-rescue dogs are most often associated with large-scale disasters, they can also be used in more everyday situations, such as finding missing hikers or children who have run away from home. In any situation where time is of the essence, a search-and-rescue dog can be a valuable asset.

Detection Dogs

Detection dogs are working dogs that are trained to use their keen sense of smell to detect a variety of substances, such as drugs, explosives, and even diseases. These dogs are often used in law enforcement and customs situations. The most common breeds of detection dogs include German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Beagles, and Basset Hounds.

Detection dogs undergo intensive training before they can be deployed in the field. They must be able to follow commands and stay focused on chaotic and potentially dangerous situations. In addition to their ability to detect substances, detection dogs also have a strong sense of loyalty and obedience. This makes them an invaluable asset in a variety of settings.


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