Earlier this month we celebrated Work Like a Dog Day. The expression “work like a dog” comes from our canine friends’ loyalty, energy, and hard work. Although for many dogs, their number one job is being our companions,  many still take on important working jobs to help make our human lives more manageable. 

What Is a “Working Dog”?

A working dog is a canine bred or trained for a specific job. Some are used for hunting, herding, and retrieving, while others are used as guard dogs, police and military dogs, search and rescue dogs, and service dogs.

What Is an Example of a Working Dog?

All dog breeds were originally bred for a specific job and purpose. Their physical stature, intelligence, temperament, size, and strength were all used to perform certain tasks. And today, many dogs still use their skills to help humans in various scenarios.

herding dog

There are seven major dog breed groups with work categorizations:

  1. Working Group
    The Working Group consists of some of the most ancient dog breeds. These dogs are large, intimidating, intelligent, and strong. They were bred to assist humans with things like guarding families and flocks or pulling carts and sleds. Common breeds: Boxer, Great Dane, and Rottweiler.
  2. Herding Group
    The Herding Group does just that—they herd farm animals. And since they have high energy, they should always have some kind of job. They are intelligent, responsive, and easily trainable, which makes them great for working side-by-side with humans. Because of that, some herders—like German Shepherds—are now used as police dogs. Common breeds: Border Collie, German Shepherd, and Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
  3. Sporting Group
    The Sporting Group consists of dogs bred to assist hunters by capturing and retrieving their game, typically fowl. These breeds have thick, water-repellent coats and are built for swimming. Common breeds: Labrador Retriever, German Shorthaired Pointer, and Cocker Spaniel.
  4. Non-sporting Group
    The Non-Sporting Group is a mix of dog breeds with different looks, styles, and personalities. But their common denominator is that they are great companion dogs because they were bred to interact with people. Common breeds: Bulldog, Dalmatian, and Poodle.
  5. Hound Group
    Hound Group dogs were bred to hunt warm-blooded prey. They have sleek bodies with long legs and explosive speed. Common breeds: Bloodhound, Dachshund, and Greyhound.
  6. Toy Group
    Dogs in the Toy Group are small, cute, and great little companions. They fit nicely in your lap and are great at being affectionate and attentive. Common breeds: Chihuahua, Pug, and Shih Tzu.
  7. Terrier Group
    The Terrier Group consists of tiny dogs who were originally bred to go underground to chase down rodents and other crop-harming vermin. And the longer-legged terriers would dig out the critters rather than burrowing underground. Common breeds: Bull Terrier, Scottish Terrier, and West Highland White Terrier.

Which Professionals Use Working Dogs?

There are numerous working dog jobs for different breed types—even today! These incredibly talented canines work hard and love what they do. Check out the various working dog jobs below.

  • Service Dogs
    Service and assistance dogs help humans with physical, emotional, and mental needs. Some dogs help with a person’s mobility or as a guide dog, while others are on seizure alert or even detect nuts for those with peanut allergies, for example.
  • Police Dogs & Military Dogs
    You’ll often see German Shepherds as police or military dogs. But sometimes, police use other breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Belgian Malinois, or even Bloodhounds and Beagles.
  • Search and Rescue Dogs & Water Rescue Dogs
    Some dogs specialize in scent work and are great at finding missing people, even among debris, wilderness, and dangerous weather. Other dogs like Newfoundlands are great for water rescue because of their swimming skills and strength.
  • Herding Dogs
    Farmers with livestock will often lean on the help of a herding dog to keep the animals from wandering when transported from one field to another.
  • Sled Dogs
    You’ve probably seen movies about the incredible, famous sled dogs. They can help transport people, food, and medical equipment across treacherous and snowy terrain.
  • Cart Dogs
    Larger dogs like Bernese Mountain Dogs and Swiss Mountain Dogs have been used worldwide to cart resources—from milk cartons to small guns and refugees in wartime.
  • Detection Dogs
    Detection Dogs can sniff out all sorts of things like drugs, electronics, bombs, bedbugs, and diseases like cancer. Their sense of smell is awe-inspiring.
  • Cadaver Dogs
    These dogs are trained to alert their handlers when they smell a decomposing body. Sometimes cadaver dogs are used alongside search and rescue dogs if there’s been a catastrophe.
  • Guard Dogs
    Dogs have been used for guarding and watchdog purposes for thousands of years. Guard dogs take on responsibilities such as guarding livestock against predators, watching over a household, or serving in the police and military forces.
  • Truffle-sniffing Dogs
    This job might sound silly, but it’s real! Truffles are very expensive and hard to find. So truffle hunters will often use truffle sniffing dogs to find them.

Can a Working Dog Be a Pet?

Yes, a working dog can most certainly become a domesticated pet. Just remember that every dog has unique needs. And depending on what line of work your dog came from, they may need additional attention and care during their adjustment period, as well as extra training for their new role as your companion dog.

Suppose this dog is used to having a high-energy job. If they aren’t stimulated daily, they may become depressed—or even destructive—because they are used to having a purpose and outlet for all of their energy. You’ll want to ensure they are still physically and mentally challenged—depending on their age and personality. 

Do Working Dogs Enjoy Working?

If they are appropriately cared for and treated well, then yes! Dogs love the companionship of working side-by-side with a human—whether it’s as a service dog, a farm dog, or a police dog. In addition, dogs love the mental and physical stimulation of having a job. Dogs who don’t get enough exercise, companionship, and mental stimulation can become depressed or destructive.  

National Work Like a Dog Day

Every year, August 5th is known as “Work Like a Dog Day” in honor of people who go the extra mile to work hard and do their best. So let’s be sure to thank and celebrate those working dogs who do the same at their jobs. 

Looking for more articles about the life of dogs, dog-friendly activities, and pet-parenting advice? Check out the Blog at TheDailyDog.com.