The term ‘working group’ is the title of a breed group classification used by The Kennel Club to encompass a range of different dogs of certain designated pure breeds, and as a general descriptive for breeds of dog whose original purpose was to fulfil working roles which are often still in popular usage today. While lots of different types of dogs may in reality be used or partially used for working dog roles, generally the term is used to refer only to dogs which are commonly used for guarding, police and military, messenger and search and rescue roles. Herding dogs used for farm work and dogs used for gun sport such as Spaniels and Labradors do not fall under the general heading of ‘working dogs,’ despite being used for working roles- these dogs fall into the separate categories of pastoral dogs and gun dogs respectively. The ‘working dog’ title also does not cover dogs used for therapy and assistance roles such as Guide Dogs for the Blind and canine assisted counselling.
The Kennel Club in the UK recognises twenty seven different breeds of dog within the working dog group, all of which have a long and established history of usage in working roles, and which are still in use in many parts of the world today as both working dogs and popular pets. Read on to find out more about all of the UK Kennel Club’s working dog breeds and their working roles.
The Beauceron is a guard dog and herding dog native to Northern France, which is also known as the Berger De Beuce or Bas Rouge.
The Bernese Mountain Dog hails from the Swiss Alps, and is a popular multi purpose farm dog, as well as historically being kept as a draft animal to pull carts and small traps.
The Bouvier Des Flandres were originally used for shepherding and cattle droving, and today are commonly used as guard dogs and police dogs in their native France.
The Boxer dog was used for centuries as a hunting dog, with its strong jaw being prized for its ability to hold large prey until the handler arrived on the scene.
The Bullmastiff was developed by gamekeepers during the 19th century as a guard dog to assist with the deterrence and apprehension of poachers.
The Canadian Eskimo Dog, one of the rarest remaining indigenous pure dog breeds, was popular as a sled dog in working dog teams in their native Canada.
The Doberman Pinscher is popular in many areas of the world as guard dogs and police dogs, and is renowned for its loyalty and intelligence.
The Dogue De Bordeaux is one of the most ancient French dog breeds, used for a wide variety of jobs including guarding, pulling carts and protecting cattle.
The Entlebucher Mountain Dog is a Swiss breed originally kept for cattle droving and guarding.
The German Pinscher was historically used to guard horse drawn coaches used by the nobility and moneyed landowners when travelling.
The Giant Schnauzer has a long and distinguished history in its home district of Bavaria in Germany as a cattle and pig droving and guarding dog.
The Golden Retriever is an incredibly versatile dog with a long working history in roles such as search and rescue, assistance work, drug detection and hunting.
The Great Dane is one of the world’s tallest breeds of dog, and was originally bred to hunt wild boar and deer.
The Greenland Dog is a large husky-type dog kept for hunting seals and polar bears as well as pulling sleds.
The Hovawart is a German dog from the Black Forest renowned for its fierce loyalty to its family and guarding and protective abilities.
The Leonberger dog is a ‘gentle giant’ with a long and distinguished history as a watch dog and canine lifeguard.
The Mastiff is a large English guard dog and protector, much in demand throughout history for its fierce loyalty and calm nature.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is a fearless guard dog, commonly used in deterrent, early alerting and protective roles.
The Newfoundland is a giant breed which is totally at home in the water, and dogs of this breed are strong swimmers often renowned for their roles as water rescue and life guarding dogs.
The Portuguese Water Dog is, as the name implies, a keen swimmer which was originally used in it’s native Portugal to swim and herd fish into fishermen’s nets.
The Pyrenean Mastiff originates from Spain and is an ancient livestock guard dog still popularly used today.
The Rottweiler was originally used to pull carts and herd livestock, before going on to be highly regarded as protection and guard dogs for both persons and property.
The Russian Black Terrier is a popular guard dog and police dog in its native Russia, which is still fairly uncommon outside of the former Soviet Union region.
The Saint Bernard is a very large breed of dog from the Swiss and Italian Alps, originally bred for search and rescue work in the mountainous terrain of the region.
The Siberian Husky is an efficient and hardy working dog with great stamina, which makes them popular as sled dogs and pulling dogs in Siberia, Canada and Alaska.
The Tibetan Mastiff is a guard dog which evolved with the nomadic cultures of Central Asia, and has a long history of work in various guarding roles including homes, temples, livestock and villages.
While all of the dogs on the list above were originally bred and used for working purposes and many of them are still widely used in associated roles today, the inherent loyalty and trainability of any dog prized for their working ability means that they are eminently adaptable and also make great pets. Working dogs and dogs of working breed types are often highly intelligent and may require a significant amount of stimulation and interaction with people to keep them happy in a domestic setting. Many working dogs such as huskies and other sled dogs are brimming with energy, and love to run and play for hours at a time. It can be helpful to look into the breeding history and historic usage of any type of dog you might be considering buying, in order to assess its suitability as a family pet which can fit in with your activity levels and lifestyle before considering a prospective purchase.
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