Guide to Working Dogs: Different Jobs, Common Working Breeds, and FAQs | Pupford
March 27th, 2023
Filed under Lifestyle + Stories
Some dogs have one main purpose in life: to be your companion and valued family member. And let’s be clear, there’s nothing wrong with that!
Other dogs uphold specific jobs; we call those working dogs. Working dogs take their instincts and innate skills and use them to accomplish tasks or help people.
But there is a lot that people don’t know about working dogs – so we created this guide to answer questions and share more information about these invaluable dogs.
We’ll cover the following:
- What jobs do working dogs hold?
- What are common working breeds?
- 5 FAQs about working dogs
Before we get started, we want to get a sense from our community:
Regardless of your answer, there’s a lot you can learn about these important members of our society – so let’s get to it.
WHAT JOBS DO WORKING DOGS HOLD?
Working dogs can hold a variety of jobs, from assisting on farms to helping law enforcement. Here are some common gigs for working dogs:
- - from guiding people with visual impairments to alerting people when they are about to have a seizure, dogs can be trained to provide health and quality of life assistance for a variety of conditions.
- K-9s - as members of law enforcement, K-9s assist in searching for illegal drugs/substances, finding missing persons, collecting evidence, and chasing fleeing criminals.
- Fire - four-legged members of the fire department help investigate the scenes of fires to locate accelerants or gather other evidence.
Fun fact: When you thought of fire dogs, you thought of a dalmatian right? That’s all thanks to fire departments of the 1700s. They relied on horse-drawn carriages to transport firefighters, and the combination of a dalmatian’s calming effect on horses, high endurance, strong loyalty, and loud bark made them the ideal choice.
- Search and Rescue (SAR) – called on after , mass casualty events, and individual incidents, SAR dogs help rescue teams track and locate missing people.
- Sheepdogs/herding dogs – farmhands (should we say farmpaws?) of the canine variety help guard and protect livestock as well as guide and move them when necessary.
- Security – security dogs work with TSA agents, public transportation teams, and other officials to ensure nobody is traveling or entering a premise with a dangerous or illegal substance.
- Cancer detection – a dog’s incredible sense of smell allows them to detect trace amounts of alkanes and aromatic compounds that cancerous tumors produce in people’s urine or breath.
Quite an impressive resume, huh? That’s why not just any dog can do these jobs. More on that now.
WHAT ARE COMMON WORKING DOG BREEDS?
While every dog has a purpose, there are some breeds that are better suited for jobs than others. It’s not to say that some breeds are better than others, it’s just that their innate skills and physical builds make them better suited for work than others.
Don’t worry, lap dogs, we love you too!
Here are some common working breeds:
- are smart, loving, sturdy, and relatively easy to care for, making them ideal service dogs.
- German Shepherds have great endurance and a protective nature that work well for both service work and law enforcement.
- Border Collies have and enthusiasm when it comes to herding anyone and anything, making them great sheep/herding dogs.
- Golden Retrievers are super gentle and affectionate, yet sturdy – the perfect combination for a service or .
- Bloodhounds have incredible noses that help them excel at search and rescue, security, cancer detection, and other similar jobs.
Those are just some common working breeds – there are plenty more whose skills play important roles in their jobs!
FAQs ABOUT WORKING DOGS
Aside from what breeds and what jobs they hold, we’ve gotten a few other common questions about working dogs. Let’s answer five of the FAQs!
1. CAN WORKING DOGS BE OVERWORKED?
You may love your job, but would you be able to do it 24/7? Absolutely not, especially if it involves physical activity. The same goes for working dogs.
It’s possible for working dogs to be overworked and overexerted, but as long as they’re given proper breaks and get enough rest when they’re “off-duty,” being overworked is usually not an issue.
2. DO WORKING DOGS GET BREAKS?
It depends. But not in the way you think.
For service dogs that perform life-saving assistance, they have to be ready to act at any time. But they are still able to do their jobs while physically relaxing when they need to.
Other working dogs, like K-9s and herding dogs for example, have very physically demanding jobs, but operate on set hours and take breaks/get time off each day. K-9s get to go home at the end of the day with their human partner, and want to relax just like they do!
So even though some dogs do technically work around the clock, they are not always exerting themselves at the same level – so yes they get breaks.
3. WHAT PERCENTAGE OF WORKING DOGS DROP OUT OF TRAINING?
Even the goodest boys and girls with the best intentions don’t end up becoming working dogs. In fact, according to Atlas Assistance Dogs, 50-70% of candidates don’t complete their training.
This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the dog. Working dog training is rigorous and requires laser focus and sharp skills. Some dogs are suited better for the task than others.
4. WHAT HAPPENS TO THE WORKING DOGS THAT DROP OUT OF TRAINING?
Nothing bad! They may go up for and become valued members of a family – which is an important job too if you ask us!
5. CAN A WORKING DOG ALSO BE A PET AT THE SAME TIME?
Yes – but it’s a complicated yes. Many working dogs assist someone with a family, so naturally that dog becomes part of the family.
The direct members in the household may have extended privileges over the general population, such as being able to pet and play with the working dog. However, when the dog is actively “on the job,” they have to let the dog focus on their job and treat it the way others would.
What other questions do you have about working dogs? Or do you have a story about a working dog in your life that you would like to share?
For either one, drop it in the comments!