Working Dogs And Their Jobs

They don’t call a dog “Man’s best friend” for nothing. When it comes to our four legged friends, finding constructive ways to keep them busy isn’t always as easy as it seems.  Whether you own a toy poodle or a Doberman pincher, almost every dog needs something to do that burns off their excess energy and keeps them out of trouble.

While most dogs need some sort of physical activity and/or mental stimulation; there are breeds that actually need something to do every day. Here we’ll discuss the breeds that work and the jobs they love to do.

K-9/Cop. When it comes to choosing a dog to do police work, there’s almost none that comes to mind quicker than the beautiful and talented German Shepard. Fierce in form and physique, these gorgeous dogs have the smart to make even the hardiest criminal think twice before making a run for it.

A K-9 Unit as they are often called, is given specific and specialized training to deal with criminals and is given the same respect and reward as their human counterparts.

Not everyone, however, needs a K-9 unit living in their home. So, how do German Shepherds stack up as a household pet? About as good as you’d expect. German Sheperds are high energy dogs who need activity and exercise every day. They are strong, confident and very eager to please. When trained by a competent and confident owner these dogs can and will excel.

While German Sheperds are certainly the most common k-9 unit, they are not the only one. Here is a comprehensive list of all the different dog breeds that are or have been used as police or military trained dog units:

Most of these breeds are known at least by name, some of them may be a surprise to you. They certainly were to me!

“Most of these breeds are known at least by name, some of them may be a surprise to you. They certainly were to me!”

Service Animals/Seeing-Eye Dogs. As a child, the only time I ever saw a service animal was when a person who was blind walked down the street. Back then they were called “seeing-eye dogs.” Now, because they are used for a plethora of different disorders or diseases; they are often referred to as service animals as they are trained to alert to specific symptoms based on the person they are helping.

Some dogs are trained to help hearing or sight impaired persons. Some are trained to alert to a person who is prone to seizures. Still others are trained to notice other more subtle medical issues such as a diabetic emergency or blood pressure related problems.

Choosing a service animal, however, isn’t as cut and dried as one might expect. Considering there are several sorts of dog breeds to choose from, finding just the right dog for your condition along with your personality takes some time. Consider the types of breeds that are trained for these sorts of jobs. There’s the Labrador retriever, the German Shepard, The Border Collie, the Golden Retriever and several others. Here’s a list of the breeds that are most commonly trained as service animals:

  • German Shepard
  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Chihuahua
  • Mastiff
  • Pitbull

While the retrievers and German Shepard seem to be the favored breeds for service detail, recent studies have shown that just about any dog with the right temperament and ability can be trained for some type of service placement. Obviously each will have jobs it cannot do, but given the right training, dogs are versatile and wonderful additions to the disabled persons life.

Search and Rescue. Working hand in hand with police or military trained personnel, search and rescue dogs are specially trained animals that use their extremely sensitive noses to find missing people. Whether it’s a lost child or a search for the missing after a massive storm; search and rescue dogs are credited with numerous rescues. While bloodhounds rule the roost so to speak in the search and rescue department there are other breeds who are equally trained and highly qualified to seek and find what once was lost.

While most breeds used in search and rescue come from the herding group of canines, there are mixed breeds that are just as certifiable as well. Here is a list of the most common breeds trained for the elite group of search and rescue personnel.

  • Border Collie
  • Blood Hound
  • German Shepard
  • Labrador/Golden Retriever
  • Belgian Malinois

While these are the most typical choice for a search and rescue dog, the following breeds have also been successfully certified as well:

  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Husky
  • Australian Shepard
  • Cattle Dog
  • Poodle

These lists are in no way comprehensive or exhaustive. They are simply examples of the sorts of dogs that can perform and are usually chosen to perform the tasks they are trained for. That doesn’t mean that every dog from a certain breed is meant to work in that sort of job or that one dog breed is better than another.

The most important thing to remember before choosing a pet, for work or just companionship, is to research the needs of the animal. Pay close attention to any medical conditions the breed may suffer from, especially things like hip dysplasia, breathing issues, separation anxiety, etc.

In general, working dogs, whether you give them a training position or an obstacle course; are characterized by an intense need to work a job. Whether it’s mastering a new specialty or herding sheep; they need the physical and mental stimulation on a constant and regular basis. Be sure that is something you can give when you choose to buy a dog breed that needs to work.

Photo credit Finger Food via

If you enjoyed this post, you should read “Louie’s Club, A Dog Sitting Community” here.

Is your pup a working breed? Which job do they do? Share below!

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