From military dogs to therapy dogs, working dogs are well known for performing tasks to help their human counterparts. Absolutely in awe of these unique furry friends, we’ve picked ten ‘dogs with jobs’ with an amazing array of skills and talents, to show you just how smart, loyal, trustworthy (and utterly inspiring!) these breeds can be.
1. Service and assistance dogs – always looking out for others
This category of working dogs includes guide dogs, hearing dogs, seizure alert dogs, and dogs to help those with autism too. Guide dogs were first introduced after World War I to aid soldiers who had been blinded during the war. And we still make use of these dogs on the streets today, with the most popular dog breeds for service and assistance purposes tend to be Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds.
2. Military dogs – Sergeant Barkington, reporting for duty!
War dogs have been working alongside soldiers since ancient times. Military dogs today have a 98% success rate in bomb detection, which proves them to be extremely useful in keeping their battalions safe. These dogs have also been known to be able to alleviate PTSD symptoms in veterans, if they are allowed to return home with their companions. The most popular dogs used by militaries around the world include Malinois, German and Belgian Shepherds, Dobermans, and Rottweilers.
3. Therapy dogs – Feeling ruff?
Therapy dogs are solely used in order to make people feel better, which is why you may often see them paying a visit to hospitals, schools, retirement homes, nursing home, hospices, as well as disaster relief areas. Any dog breeds can be used as therapy dogs, however, they need to be incredibly patient and calm, which is why Labradors and Golden Retrievers are usually the most common choices.
4. Herding dogs – there’s nothing sheepish about these dogs!
Most of the dog breeds used for herding, such as Border Collies, Australian Kelpies, and Australian Koolies, have it in their DNA to be constantly trying to round up animals. They maintain control over cattle, sheep, and even fowl, and are able to stare down animals with a gaze known as ‘strong eye’. They need to be patient, non-aggressive dogs, so that they can be trained to gather up these animals without attacking them.
5. Acting dogs – lights, camera, WOOF!
There are countless dogs who have made their names on the big screen, with many becoming famous enough to even have their own stars on the Hollywood walk of fame! One of the most famous dogs has to be Lassie, a Rough Collie, who had her own films and TV series based on the famous novel by Eric Knight. Other famous dogs include Rin Tin Tin, a German Shepherd dog, rescued from a World War I battlefield to later became an international star in motion pictures, and Fang from Harry Potter, played by many different Boarhound dogs.
6. Search and rescue dogs – leaving no stone un-sniffed
There are so many different types of search and rescue dogs – the main types are those who can follow a given scent to a lost human, follow a trail, find humans in collapsed buildings, rubble or even avalanches. The main dog breeds used for this particular purpose are German and Belgian Shepherds, Labradors and Golden Retrievers, as well as Bloodhounds for following scents, and Newfoundlands for finding humans in water. Impressive!
7. Detection dogs – anything to declare?
There are many different ways that detection dogs can be used. Some are trained to detect the odours of cadavers, while others will be able to smell out weapons, explosives, and drugs. They are commonly used at police stations, schools, and border control at ports and airports in order to keep the public safe. The most common dog breeds for this job are German Shepherds, Beagles, Belgian Malinois, and Labradors.
8. Tracking and hunting dogs – these dogs don’t half smell
These dogs have to be particularly restrained, as they need to be able to find their prey without chewing it to pieces… which is, of course, a little tricky for a dog! Their need to be able to track smells means that the bloodhound is perfectly suited to this job role, while terriers and dachshunds are also popular dog breeds used for hunting and tracking as this is part of their natural behaviour.
9. Sled dogs – MUSH!
These fantastically admirable dogs have to be large, fast and have stamina, as they often have to haul heavy loads through sub-zero temperatures, across ice and snow. In some parts of the world, people rely on these beautiful creatures solely for transportation and deliveries of crucial goods such as medicine. The most common dog breeds for this job are Alaskan Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes, because of their stamina and speed, as well as their double coat, which means they can endure the inhospitable temperatures.
10. Truffle-sniffing – pooches pigging out
Truffles are an incredibly expensive ingredient used in fine cooking, with each one costing thousands of pounds. Often a task left to pigs, there’s only one dog breed in the world that can smell truffles, and that’s the Lagotto Romagnolo. Their highly developed nose makes them excellent search dogs to sniff out these delicious edible gems.
Has a working dog or support dog changed your life? Tell us your story in the comments below!