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Everything you need to know about working dog breeds

Published: June 2021 | Updated: April 2023

The American Kennel Club recognizes seven breed classifications, including the Working Dog Group. The original function of these dog breeds, as well as their appearance and size, differ. Every dog in the pack, though, is known for their strength and intelligence.

There are approximately 50 dog breeds in this group, with origins ranging from the United States to Japan.

What is a Working Dog? 

Working Group dogs were initially bred to perform services for humans.

Because the working relationship between humans and dogs predates any single breed, it's difficult to pinpoint the category's specific link with dogs. This necessitates a more thorough examination of each AKC-listed Working Dog breed; each breed serves a different purpose.

Working dogs perform a variety of tasks, including rescue, service, police, and sled dog work, to mention a few. Working dogs are known for their large stature and significant muscle mass, making them most suitable for labor-ridden tasks. 

Working Dogs and Herding Dogs shared the same AKC classification until 1983, when the Working Group was considered to be too broad.

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Working Group Dog Breeds

To fully understand the working dog breed class, you first need to know which breeds are in the group. The working dogs breed list includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Siberian Husky
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Akita
  • Anatolian Shepherd
  • Boxer
  • Bull Mastiff
  • Cane Corso
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Giant Schnauzer
  • Great Dane
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Newfoundland
  • Rottweiler
  • Samoyed
  • Saint Bernard

If you’re unsure if the dog breed you’re looking for is in the working class, do your research and understand what the breed’s classification and characteristics are prior to adoption. A little research goes a long way!

Working Dog Characteristics

Many of these dogs are still actually working today all throughout the world. A husky pulling a sled or a Great Pyrenees guarding a flock of sheep, for example, are familiar sights.

However, now, the vast majority of these canines are kept as companions. But, since they were bred to work, they are not usually as laid-back or easy to care for as other breeds.

You must carefully examine whether or not you can handle the demands of a working dog before acquiring one. Now, let's go over some of the characteristics that most Working Group dogs have.

1) Size

Because these dogs were designed to perform a specific task, they typically range in size from medium to giant. These dogs are large and heavy, weighing at least 40 pounds and, in some circumstances, up to 200 pounds.

If you're thinking of adding one of these dogs to your family, bear this in mind. For this reason, working dog breeds are frequently inappropriate for apartment life.

2) Intelligence

Many of these breeds were required to be intelligent, clever, and have the ability to problem-solve in order to accomplish their jobs properly. Many of them still possess this intelligence today, making them easier to train if done properly (harder to train for inexperienced pet parents). 

This intellect is, of course, a two-edged sword. To stay happy, these dogs demand mental stimulation. Many of them aspire to have some sort of purpose.

This can be accomplished by following a steady, energy-draining, and enjoyable training regimen, which is frequently the most feasible solution. Interactive food toys and games, on the other hand, are also excellent to implement to increase mental stimulation and make them feel as if they have a job to do. 

3) Social Skills

Because these dogs were developed to work with and for their humans, they are often very people-oriented. However, many of them are one-person dogs, which means they will have a strong attachment with only one person and may not listen well to anyone else within or outside the family. 

This is not to say that these breeds aren’t family oriented as many of them will protect their families, and become extremely close to everyone in the family, but rather they often look at one person as the person who makes the commands.

Of course, this isn't always the case and every dog is unique, but this is generally how these dogs are. This may be acceptable and preferred to some, but not to others.

Is a Working Dog Breed Right For You?

Inexperienced dog parents should likely avoid dogs classified as part of the Working Group. Their strength and intelligence (often leading to them being a bit stubborn) might be a problem for folks who aren't familiar with (or don't have time for) consistent training and patience.

While battling bad behaviors acquired through improper training, many working-class dogs are abused, neglected, or even abandoned in shelters. The Siberian Husky, German Shepherd, and Alaskan Malamute are among the breeds abandoned by inexperienced pet parents. 

When searching for a dog to adopt, be certain you have the time to dedicate to training and socializing a Working Group dog. Understand they will require more patience due to their high level of intelligence and stubbornness. If you are interested in one of these breeds, and are searching for a companion to be more dependent on you than others, you can often find these breeds at shelters or with responsible breeders.

The Bottom Line

Many professionals today rely on intelligent, loyal, and physically tough dogs for anything from rescue work to military and law enforcement. Many of these puppies are the best working dog breeds that have been bred throughout time to do specialized tasks where their size is advantageous.

Due to their size and energy requirements, these dogs may be unsuitable for some households and families. Without frequent exercise or other forms of mental and physical stimulation, working dogs might get restless. Families planning to acquire a working breed must begin training and socialization at a young age. 

Even as a working dog ages, she will still require a lot of attention and physical activity on a daily basis. Without a purpose and sufficient exercise, these dogs could become destructive and depressed.

Working dog breeds, despite their specialized needs, may make wonderful companions for the appropriate family. Working dogs are developed for traits like loyalty, obedience, and intelligence, in addition to physical strength and size. You really couldn't ask for more. But, before you choose to adopt, be certain you first understand all of the responsibilities that come with your desired breed.

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