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dog herding a flock of sheep

Good Dog: Working Dog Breeds and Behavior

We've all heard of working dogs. From police K-9s to Siberian Husky sled dogs, our canine companions have been assisting us for centuries in more ways than one. They are rightfully praised for their intelligence, loyalty, and seemingly superhuman abilities to keep us safe, herding livestock and even sniffing out bombs!

But how much do we know about this type of dog? What traits make them so unique? Do any quirks make them better suited for specific roles than others? As it turns out, the answer is a resounding "yes."

What Are Working Dogs?

These dogs have a job to do – and they do it better than most of us. These breeds are specially bred to guard, search, rescue, and more. And if that's not enough, the level of charm and personality that comes with a working pup might be the deciding factor for any potential pup parents out there.

But what exactly makes a dog a 'working' dog? For starters, these breeds have been carefully selected to exhibit traits such as intelligence, courage, and strength – all essential characteristics when asked to tackle any task. Most importantly, though? These breeds have an eagerness and work ethic that many human employees could learn from!

These include the Doberman Pinscher, Boxer, Great Dane, Mastiff, Great Pyrenees, Newfoundland, Samoyed, St. Bernard, and Schnauzer. These breeds are characterized by their size, strength, intelligence, patience, bravery, and loyalty.

So, next time you're looking for a four-legged friend who can help with security or even search and rescue missions - consider the working dog. A generous heart combined with the right temperament is much more than just a man's best friend!

Common Working Breeds

White pyrenean mountain dog with sheep flock

Are you looking for the perfect companion to help you with the mundane everyday tasks? Look no further than these dog breeds! This super crafty canine crowd can be found in nearly every size and shape, just waiting to lend you a hand (or paw).

Here are a few of the most popular breeds and what they can do:

  • Labradors: These cuddly cuties are intelligent and widely adaptable, making them prime candidates for almost anything—from search and rescue to therapy work. Labs will lend a paw to help with housework . . . of course, that's if they're not napping in their favorite spot first.
  • German Shepherds: These hardworking dogs are easily recognizable and often serve as service animals, hunting dogs, police dogs, or search and rescue dogs. With their strong sense of loyalty, obedience, and protective nature, German Shepherds are the perfect sidekick for any task.
  • Golden Retrievers: Just like their Labrador counterparts, Golden Retrievers make great service dogs due to their sweet temperaments and eagerness to please their human friends. They have an impressive aptitude for learning combined with boatloads of energy that are sure to get any job done (including a morning jog!).
  • Bernese Mountain Dog: Berners are tough pooches that love to work hard. Although they may usually end up picking only one favorite human, they can get along nicely with other family members and are considered gentle giants.

So if you're looking for a loyal sidekick with more than enough get-up-and-go to help out around the house—or nearly anywhere else—it's worth considering one of these special working group dogs! Check out more members of this working group on the American Kennel Club website!

Popular Jobs

You'll be pleasantly surprised if you've ever wanted to know what these dogs can do for a living. The list of tasks these dogs can take on is extensive and inspiring, from pulling sleds to giving emotional support. These versatile pooches are ready and willing to do whatever the job requires—no matter how tall or small!


Herding is perhaps the most popular task these dogs take on. Do you need someone to herd your sheep or a livestock guardian dog? The working group has got your back. Sheep, cats, and even kids—these dogs are always up for a herding job.

Search & Rescue

These brave pups also make great search & rescue professionals. Able to traverse rough terrain in all types of weather, these true heroes will often work tirelessly until they find their person or object of focus, no matter how long it takes.

Therapy/Emotional Support

But it's not all about action-packed tasks—working dogs also make terrific therapy companions. From cheering people up in hospitals to providing much-needed emotional support in nursing homes and bereavement centers, these gentle souls have a real knack for making people feel better.

From tasks big to small, these canines have an incredible range of skills and an unquenchable thirst for work—what more could you ask for in a furry companion?


It takes a special kind of pup to be a working dog, one that's tough, loyal, and crazy-smart. They must possess certain traits: intelligence, confidence, and obedience. But it takes more than that—they need to have the right temperament for their job—so it's essential to match the pup to the task.


belgian sheepdog training

While we can't measure IQ in our furry companions, we can measure their ability to learn and adapt. Breeds like German Shepherds and Retrievers excel at this—they can rapidly soak up knowledge and retain it over years of training.


When you think about this dog type, don't just picture them casually herding sheep or patrolling homes—because these pups need plenty of endurance and intelligence. 

They are selected for their physical strength, speed, and agility. They must also maintain optimal performance under challenging conditions like extreme temperatures or unfavorable weather. 

Most of the energy these pups use comes from stored fat reserves, designed for endurance rather than short bursts of energy!

Unflappable Natures

It's not enough to be brave; if a working dog gets too anxious when confronted with loud noises or full-on chaos, he will struggle with his task. That's why all lions (ahem, we mean dogs) need plenty of courage, too—not just physical but emotional strength, too. After all, who would trust a guard dog that yelps at every sound?

Training And Care

Have you ever wanted to understand what it takes to turn a mere pup into a working dog? You may be surprised to learn that training isn't the only factor in play—how you care for your pet is just as important.


A healthy diet is vital for any pup, but even more so for dogs in the working group that require more energy than their couch-potato counterparts. Ensure your dog gets a balanced diet with plenty of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, plus enough calories to fuel their work-related escapades.


Marathoners need lots of exercise, and your pup is no exception! Generally speaking, these dogs should get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily—including running, walking, or playing. Plus, taking them out can help stimulate their mental and physical well-being.

Mental Stimulation

These dogs have an elevated intelligence level compared to other dog breeds, so they require challenging activities that test their problem-solving skills—like puzzles or special games designed by qualified canine trainers.

Quality rest time

Your pup needs their beauty sleep too! These dogs can be just as worn out mentally as they are physically, so make sure they have a place of safety at home where they can unwind in peace.


police dogs training together

Getting them out and about helps teach working breeds how to behave around other people and animals. Taking them on walks or enrolling them in dog classes can help build patience and respect—just like in humans! They must get used to being around other animals and people since they'll likely encounter both on the job.

When it comes down to having a happy and healthy working dog, time is essential; quality time spent with you will make your fur baby feel more connected and content with life. So go on and schedule that puppy playdate (you can even consider wearing an adorable dog-themed shirt to show your pup some love)!


What are herding dog breeds?

Herding dogs are often bred to herd large groups of animals for farmers and ranchers. These dogs typically have an innate drive to work in a group and an intelligent nature that allows them to respond quickly and accurately to commands from their owners. Common herding breeds include Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, German Shepherds, and Belgian Malinois.

Do working dog breeds make good pets?

Yes, they can make excellent pets, depending on their personalities. That said, because these dogs were bred for specific tasks, they may only be the best fit for a novice pet owner with experience training dogs or dealing with strong-willed humans or animals. If you're considering getting this breed as a pet, it's essential to look into the specific characteristics of each breed before you commit.

What are the most low-maintenance working dog breeds?

If you're looking for a low-maintenance pet but still want the benefits of having a working breed around, several options require minimal maintenance but still provide companionship and utility, such as running errands or providing protection in an emergency. These include breeds like Retrievers and Greyhounds.

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