The working dog group includes some of most formidable dogs around. These dogs were created to work hard. They were bred to guard home and livestock and to pull sleds or carts. Some working dogs also do water rescue, police and messenger work. Working dogs have worked hand in hand with man for thousands of years and have been an invaluable asset. In most kennel clubs, dogs that herd livestock are not part of the working group; they fall into the "herder" category. Hunting dogs and hounds fall into the "sporting" and "hound" groups. Some working dogs are; Rottweiler, Doberman, German Shepherd, Kuvasz, Mastiff, Saint Bernard, Great Dance, Great Pyrenees, Samoyed, Siberian Husky, standard and giant Schnauzer, Boxer and the Bernese Mountain Dog.
The working dog group consists of a variety of dogs that are all intelligent, loyal and determined. They are active dogs who are happiest when they have a job to do. They are generally large to giant sized and need an experienced owner. All the working dogs need thorough socialization and training and all require a large amount of daily exercise. Working dogs are serious no nonsense dogs. They are very dedicated and need an owner of equal dedication. When ill raised they can be dangerous.
Working dogs are intelligent and strong willed. They have great potential, but do tend to be rather stubborn and dominant and need a solid pack leader. These dogs are not for the weak willed. Training needs to be consistent and firm, but always fair. They are not dogs that take well to heavy-handed training and can become aggressive if ill-treated.
From the working dog group comes the best of the guard dogs. They are usually reserved, even suspicious of strangers. They are no nonsense protectors. However, they can easily become overprotective and territorial, so care needs to be taken to insure they do not become dangerous.
Most working dogs are good with children. However, they are dominant dogs and often will not obey commands for those in the family who have not established leadership over them. The entire family should participate in the upbringing and training of the dog. This helps to ensure all are seen as pack leaders. Most get along well with other household pets, although many are aggressive with strange dogs.
Working dogs come in a variety of looks. They are all larger dogs, the smallest being the Standard Schnauzer, the largest being the Great Dane. The majority of working dogs weigh over 80 pounds, with many hitting well into the 100s. Their coats range from the short hair of the Mastiffs to the long thick coats of the Malamute or Newfoundlander to the sculptured hair of the schnauzer.
As a group, working dogs are a moderately hardy bunch. Due to their large size, bloat is a serious problem for them. Bloat happens after a dog eats or drinks too much too quickly and their stomach seals up. This causes their stomach to turn or twist. Bloat is extremely serious and can cause death. The easiest way to help prevent bloat is by feeding the dog a couple of small meals throughout the day, instead of one large one. Water and exercise should be withheld for an hour before and after eating. Hip Dysplasia is also a serious problem in larger dogs. Perspective owners should buy from a Breeder who only breeds dogs that are OFA certified. This does not guarantee a dog will not get Hip Dysplasia, but it decreases the chances substantially. Sadly, the working dog group tends to be shorter lived dogs. As a rule the larger the dog the shorter the lifespan.
- Best for experienced owners
- Good with children
- Good with other animals
- High exercise needs
- Medium- High shedding
- High guard dog capabilities
- Medium ease of training