Which Dog Breeds Are Working Dogs?
Working dogs are primarily large breeds and love having a task to do. These 29 working dog breeds share some characteristics, and have some that are unique to them.
The AKC currently recognizes a list of 31 top working dog breeds. These animals have been used for centuries in various jobs which include herding, guarding livestock, pulling sleds, hunting small and large game as well as military service, police work drug detection search and rescue, service animals therapy animals. Each is special and unique in its own way.
This article will provide you with information on some of the most popular working dog breeds today; what they were originally bred to do; how they rank by intelligence; their size; temperament; average weight; life expectancy and more.
Working Dog Jobs
Working dogs were originally bred for a variety of purposes, including driving livestock, herding, guarding, livestock or property from predators or other intruders (including trespassers), pulling sleds, and hunting. They are also used as military and police dogs, drug and detection dogs, search and rescue dogs, service animals, and therapy animals. They are primarily large breeds and love having a task to do. They work because they love to.
Choosing A Working Dog Breed
When choosing a working dog breed, it’s important to consider what the dog will be used for. If you’re looking for a herding dog, then breeds like the Australian Cattle Dog, Border Collie, or Shetland Sheepdog would be good choices. If you need a guard dog, breeds like the Boxer, Doberman Pinscher, or Rottweiler might be a better fit. And if you want a dog to participate in sledding or hunting competitions, breeds like the Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, or American Foxhound would be ideal.
Once you’ve decided on the type of working dog you want, do some research on the various breeds. Some of the most popular working dogs are also some of the oldest, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best choice for your particular situation. Check out these 29 working dog breeds:
1. Australian Cattle Dog
The ACD can be a one-person dog, although they’re usually extremely loyal to the entire family. They require an owner who knows how to display strong leadership and can handle a dog with an independent streak. These dogs need owners who understand the “working breed” temperament; their intelligence can be a challenge to the novice owner. They will test your leadership, so if you’re not prepared to be firm and consistent, an ACD may not be for you.
The Beagle was originally bred by noblemen that would hunt small game and then release the Beagle to chase it down. This continued until they were able to corner and catch it with their mouths which is how they got their name which comes from the French meaning “to open the mouth”. Today they are still used as hunting dogs but have also become wonderful family pets known for their even temperaments, clownish personalities, and sense of smell.
3. Bernese Mountain Dog (herding, pulling sleds)
The Bernese Mountain Dog was bred in Switzerland for hundreds of years to guard and drive cattle, protect the homestead and pull carts loaded with milk cans or other heavy items. Today they are still used as working dogs but have also become wonderful family pets known for their intelligence, even temperaments, and affectionate personalities.
4. Bichon Frise
The Bichon Frise was originally bred in the Mediterranean to be a circus performer and family companion. Today they are still used as circus dogs but have also become wonderful family pets known for their intelligence, affectionate personalities, and small size.
5. Black Russian Terrier (guardian)
The best and the biggest of all is the Black Russian Terrier. It is a wonderful breed created in USSR to be an all-purpose working dog breed. He is calm hot-tempered and fearless. The giant size, power, intelligence, and strength of this dog make him one of the best protection breeds available today. The Black Russian Terrier makes an outstanding guard for both property and family due to his territorial nature and protectiveness of his home and family. His imposing size makes him a formidable deterrent to threats of any kind.
The Bloodhound has been known for centuries for its ability to track, hunt and trail by scent. Today they are still used as hunting dogs but have also become wonderful family pets known for their intelligence, easy-going temperaments, and strong sense of smell.
7. Bouvier Des Flandres (herding, pulling sleds)
The Bouvier des Flandres was originally bred in France by a shepherd to help move large cattle herds in addition to having the instinct and physical ability to protect them. Today they are still used as working, herding, and guard dogs but they have also become wonderful family pets known for their intelligence, even temperaments, and affectionate personalities.
8. Boxer (working/companion)
The Boxer was originally bred in Germany to hunt wild boar which required a dog with strong jaws, great strength, and lots of endurance. Today they are still used as hunting dogs but have also become wonderful family pets known for their intelligence, even temperaments, and clownish personalities.
9. Bull Terrier
The Bull Terrier was originally bred in the 1800s to fight other dogs for sport which resulted in them developing the tenacity and courage that they are known for. Today they are still used as fighting dogs but have also become wonderful family pets known for their intelligence, gregarious personalities, and even temperaments.
The Bullmastiff was originally bred in England to be a family companion that would also help when it came time for the hunt by being an excellent guard dog. They were so successful at this task that for years they would only allow the nobility to own them. In America, they were first recognized by the AKC in 1904 and today they are still used as both a family companion and guard dog.
11. Bearded Collie
The Bearded Collie was originally bred in the Scottish Highlands to be a good herding dog that would also protect his flock from predators. Today they are still used as working dogs but have also become wonderful family pets known for their intelligence, stamina, and beautiful coats.
12. Border Collie (herding)
The Border Collie is highly energetic intelligence and amazing instincts have made the Border Collie a top choice as a herding dog. They possess a high energy level and strong herding instinct. He requires more than the average amount of exercise and he thrives on strenuous activity. Their ability to work quickly, all day long makes them a favorite among working stockmen throughout the world today.
13. Doberman Pinscher (police work, military work, service dog)
He is a medium-large size, well-balanced, and muscled. He was originally bred for personal protection not to be aggressive but fearless. Throughout history, many law enforcement agencies have used the Doberman Pinscher as police or guard dogs primarily because of their intelligence, agility, and trainability. Their courage, ferocity, and devotion to duty have helped them prevail in a variety of circumstances.
14. German Shepherd Dog (military/police work, search, and rescue, therapy dog)
The breed is the third most popular dog in America for many reasons. They were originally bred as herding dogs but have been used for so much more throughout history which is why they are still in used today. They are currently being used as military dogs, drug detection dogs for police work, search and rescue dogs, service dogs to the disabled, therapy dogs throughout the world.
15. Golden Retriever (service dog)
The Golden Retriever has proven himself an outstanding working dog breed that can compete with any of the best breeds available today. He is a loving, smart and reliable dog breed for a variety of tasks including search and rescue, therapy work, hunting companion, and more.
16. Irish Setter
The Irish Setter can be stubborn at times but he is a great family pet because he gets along well with kids and other pets. He was originally bred to be a hunting dog and has been used as such for centuries. Today he is still used as a hunting companion and gun dog.
The Komondor has an outstanding temperament, very patient with children, but not with other dogs. They are extremely devoted to their owners and are wary of strangers. They will defend you and your family with their lives; this breed needs a strong leader who can be their advocate and protector.
18. Labrador Retriever (service dog)
The Labrador Retriever was originally bred to be an all-purpose sporting dog and was primarily bred as a retriever of both waterfowl and upland game during hunts. The Labrador Retriever is a gentle, loving, and trustworthy dog breed that is highly intelligent.
19. Belgian Malinois (military/police work, search and rescue, drug detection)
The Malinois like the Belgian Shepherd was originally bred to be a herding dog but he also has other instincts that make him an outstanding working dog; watchdog, police K-9 dog, military K-9 dog, etc. He is intelligent, easy to train, and has a strong desire to work with his human partner.
20. Standard Poodle (service dog)
The Poodle is considered one of the most intelligent dogs in the world. He is also happy, loving, lively, extremely active, and entertaining. The most common use for this dog breed today is as a companion although he does have the ability to work if he is properly trained.
21. Rottweiler (police work, military work)
The Rottweiler has been used as a drover, herding dog, guard dog, and today he is still used for these purposes in addition to being used as police K-9 dogs, SAR dogs, etc. The most notable characteristic of Rottweiler is his intelligence and strong desire to work.
22. Saint Bernard
Saint Bernard was originally bred as a very large working dog and is still used for this purpose today. He is considered the world’s most famous rescue dog because of their ability to discover those who are lost in blizzards and avalanches. They were even used as draft dogs to pull carts and carry supplies for the monks of their monastery.
The Samoyed is a powerful breed with a history as an outstanding working dog. They were originally used by the Samoyeds people to herd reindeer, hunt, and pull sleds. Today they are still used for their original purposes as well as being used as guide dogs, therapy dogs, and search-and-rescue dogs.
24. Giant Schnauzer
The Giant Schnauzer has a personality of larger-than-life. They are an intelligent breed that can be very protective but need a firm, confident owner who can establish the rules and boundaries. They need training, exercise, and outlets for their energy; in addition to being a great watchdog, they excel in obedience and agility.
S25. iberian Husky (pulling sleds)
The Siberian Husky was originally used as a sled dog but he has now become one of the most popular house pets in America. They are still used to pulling sleds and competing in races because of their physical agility and endurance. The Siberians also have outstanding instincts, strength, speed, and very few grooming requirements.
The Vizsla is a dog breed that was used as a hunting companion and a pointer for hundreds of years in Hungary. Today they are still used as a hunter but they have also become wonderful family pets with an even temperament, gentle nature, and very little grooming needs.
27. Weimaraner (hunting small game)
The Weimaraner is a hunting dog that was originally bred in Germany to provide food for poor Germans who lived in the Black Forest. Because of this history, they are known as a sturdy, hardy breed that can go longer periods without food than most other breeds making them very reliable hunting dogs.
28. Welsh Corgi
The Welsh Corgi is a small breed that was originally bred to be a cattle herding dog in Wales. They were so successful at this task that for years they would only allow the nobility to own them. Today they are still used as herding dogs but have also become great family pets known for their intelligence and playful personalities.
29. Wirehaired Pointing Griffon (hunting, pointing/retrieving game)
The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is a scent hound used primarily in the United States and Europe as an exceptional upland game bird retriever, pointing dog, and flushing dog. They were originally bred from various French breeds including the Basset Hound which accounts for his short legs and long ears.
Life With A Working Dog
Working dogs are truly amazing animals. The jobs they’re bred for vary, but one thing is clear: these guys need a job to do! Whether you want a herding dog or hunting hound, there’s an animal waiting to meet your needs.
These breeds have been used in the military and police force as well as by families who just want protection at home. Working dogs come with many benefits including increased mental stimulation, increased exercise requirements which means less of that pesky weight put on by boredom, and unconditional love from their owners-to-be. Choose wisely when deciding what type of working breed best suits your lifestyle because once you find them it could be hard letting go!