Working dog breedscome in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, all united by one common trait; they are all breeds that historically were bred and developed to fulfil certain specific working roles, and so have a shared combination of core traits and tendencies that reflect their original purposes.
Many dog breeds that are classed as working breeds today have not been widely used in working roles for many decades or even longer, but the breed’s origins and key abilities are what dictates their inclusion within the working dog group.
The different types of working roles that dogs within the group originally performed can be quite variable, and don’t represent all potential working dog applications, as some of these (like gun dog work) are accommodated within other more specific collective breed groups instead.
There are a total of 26 different dog breeds within the Kennel Club’s working dog group in total, and many of these breeds are very common and popular in the UK today, and will be easily recognisable to most dog lovers. Others are rather less common and less widely known, and for some of the breeds on the list, their original working roles aren’t well known of either, so there can be some surprises on the list for some dog lovers!
Many of the dog breeds within the working dog group have a long and noble history of working in roles that required extreme bravery, bags of endurance, and a quick-thinking, adaptable nature alongside of the ability to thrive and perform in even the most inhospitable of conditions.
This makes dogs from the working group some of the most outgoing, versatile and rewarding of dogs to own for the right type of owners, and many first-time puppy buyers will find the right choice of pet for them within the group.
If you are considering buying or adopting a puppy of any type, ensuring that you know what you’re getting into and that the breed you are considering is the right fit for you is really important, to ensure that your dog thrives with you and you are able to take care of all of their needs effectively.
This means doing lots of research into the various dog breeds you are considering and potentially, ruling out those that aren’t a good fit, and finding alternatives that may be better suited to your lifestyle.
If you’re shopping around and beginning to learn about different dog breeds with a view to making a purchase, finding out what type of dogs are the most popular and in demand with other buyers can be helpful information. Whilst the right pick of dog for someone else may not make it the best choice for you yourself, learning about the most popular dogs and why they are in such great demand can provide insights and information to help you with making your own final decision.
However, it is very hard for the average puppy buyer to find out what breeds within any given Kennel Club grouping are the most popular and in demand, but this is something that Pets4Homes is in a unique position to be able to help with.
As the largest and busiest pet classifieds website in the UK, Pets4Homes has exclusive access to data and statistics drawn from our own website that tell us what dog breeds are offered for sale in the highest numbers, how they compare to other breeds from within the same group, and even what proportion of the total number of dogs of each breed offered for sale here are pedigrees versus non-pedigrees.
We also have access to the pricing information listed by advertisers for their dogs and litters for sale, based on averages across each individual breed.
Collating the available data from 2018, the last full year we have figures for, has allowed us to draw up our own definitive list of the UK’s most popular working dog breeds based on Pets4Homes advertisement data from the past year.
In this article we will share our list of the most popular working dog breeds in the UK, along with information on their average pricing and the reasons behind their popularity.
We’ll begin by explaining in more detail what makes a working dog breed and how we parsed the information we used to draw up our working dog breed popularity list, before getting on to the list itself. Read on to learn more.
What makes a dog a member of the working dog group is determined by the Kennel Club in the UK, which divides up all of the individual pedigree dog breeds that they recognise into broader umbrella groupings of breeds that share similar origins or core traits.
The working dog group is just one of seven Kennel Club breed groupings, and the first thing you need to know about dogs from within the group is that this group does not represent dogs with all potential current or historic working dog roles.
Some other narrowly specified working dog roles are actually included within different groups – like gun dogs within the gun dog groups, and pastoral or herding dog breeds within the pastoral dog group. There is also the utility dog grouping, which encompasses breeds that have distant working origins and specific and unique applications, but a less close modern association with known working roles.
The Kennel Club in the UK divides up dog breeds into these seven large group categories for several reasons – first of all to place dogs with similar origins or traits together in a section, and also, to enable dogs that compete in breed classes at formal dog shows to go on to compete at higher levels against dogs of different breeds.
Using breed groupings, dogs that perform well in their breed show classes can then go head to head against dogs of a similar type but of different breeds, to find the best example of a dog of the group type rather than of each individual breed. This forms part of the structure of dog show qualification and judging, and allows eligible dogs to qualify and progress to higher-level shows, such as the annual Crufts event at the NEC in Birmingham.
In terms of the types of working roles that dogs from within the working group perform or have historically performed, there is a diverse and varied selection to be found within the group as a whole. This includes dogs that were historically or currently used for applications like dog sledding, search and rescue work, and guarding and watchdog roles, to name just a few.
Some dogs from within the working dog group have a number of core skills or traits covering different areas too, and dogs from the working group include some of the most noble, distinguished and brave dog breeds in the world.
They all tend to have a high level of working intelligence too, and be versatile enough to turn their paws to all sorts of different things.
Dogs within the working dog group are all from Kennel Club recognised breeds, although not all of the dogs represented in the figures that make up our popularity list are pedigree examples of those breeds. A non-pedigree dog of mixed or unknown breeding might be considered to be a working dog type too, but only breeds mandated within the Kennel Club’s own list form part of the formal working dog group, and so will be included within our popularity list.
Next, we’ll explain how we gathered and processed the information we have used to draw up the working dog breeds popularity list.
In order to ensure that you understand the information we’ll present to you and can use it to draw informed conclusions from it, we’ll explain now how we got the information that formed the basis of our list, and how we used it.
Pets4Homesis the UK’s busiest and most popular dedicated pet classifieds website, receiving millions of unique visitors every year who use the site to advertise dogs for sale and browse puppy adverts. We collate anonymous information based on the advertisements placed here, which we use to build up statistics on the popularity of different dog breeds and other related factors, to provide a snapshot of the big picture in terms of dog breed popularity, pricing and trends within the UK at the time.
Whilst Pets4Homes is of course not the only UK website that hosts puppy adverts, we are by far the biggest, with tens of thousands of dog adverts placed on the site each year. The data we use to draw up our working dog popularity list is taken only from Pets4Homes, and does not accommodate for dogs and puppies advertised in the UK via other platforms. However, our findings represent a true snapshot of the market in the UK at the time, as we host more adverts than any other site, and have the largest and most stable datasets to work with.
This also ensures that the accuracy of the information that we provide is verified, and does not involve guesswork or conjecture.
When a puppy seller places an advert on Pets4Homes, we collate information on things like the dog breed involved, the advertised sale price (when given) and the pedigree status of the dog the advert is for. Collating this data across all adverts placed on the site and then comparing them side by side across different breeds and breed groups, we can determine which dog breeds from each Kennel Club grouping are the most popular, their average advertised prices, and the split between pedigree and non-pedigree dog numbers within breed adverts.
This is the information that forms the basis of our working dog breeds popularity list.
To draw up our working dog breeds popularity list, we used advertisement data from the year of 2018, encompassing all adverts for dogs of working dog breeds placed on Pets4Homes. This is the most recent year for which we have a full twelve months of data available, to provide a complete snapshot of the current market trends.
In terms of the numerical figures provided in our list for how many adverts were placed for each breed in 2018, please bear in mind that the numbers relate to the number of individual adverts, and not the number of individual dogs. This is because people selling puppies generally create one advert to advertise the whole litter, rather than drawing up individual adverts for each dog.
Ergo, the figures reflect the advert numbers placed here in 2018 on a breed by breed basis, and not the exact number of dogs advertised. This does mean that the actual number of individual dogs of each breed advertised here will be higher for the given timeframe than the number of adverts, but as the practice of generally listing a litter within just one advert is replicated across all dog breeds, the rankings if not the exact numbers of dogs from each breed remains accurate.
When it comes to the split in advert numbers between pedigree and non-pedigree dogs of each breed, this is based on information provided by the sellers and not verified by Pets4Homes. If you are viewing a puppy advertised as a pedigree, always check their paperwork before committing to a purchase or handing over any money.
In terms of pricing information, we’ve supplied the average price that each dog breed was advertised here for in 2018 across the board, and further divided it up into pricing information for pedigree versus non-pedigree dogs separately.
Before we calculated the average advertised price for each listed breed, we first discounted adverts for which no pricing information was provided, and then removed any that fall well outside of the normal parameters, being those advertised for under £100 or over £8,000 respectively. This is in order to ensure that missing, incomplete or inaccurate information supplied by advertisers, or anomalies that don’t represent an accurate picture of the market today do not artificially alter the results.
We’ve also included information on the overall popularity of each dog on the list compared to all of the other dog breeds and types advertised on Pets4Homes in 2018, so that you can get a better idea of the breed’s popularity as a whole in the UK as well as compared to other working dog breeds.
With this in mind, please read on to find out the UK’s most popular working dog breeds based on Pets4Homes statistics from 2018, and presented in reverse order.
TheAlaskan malamuteis the first of the two spitz-type sled dog breeds to make the working dog breeds popularity list, and the slightly larger of the pair.
The Alaskan malamute is a large, hairy dog breed of the spitz type, which gives them a distinctive physical appearance that involves a long muzzle, pointed, erect ears, a curled tail and a thick, shaggy coat. This is one of the larger spitz dog breeds, and one that is commonly mistaken for the rather more common Siberian husky, although the malamute is the larger of the two breeds.
Alaskan malamutes fall within the working dog group due to their long-recorded history in their native Alaska of use as both sled dogs to haul cargo, and hunting and tracking dogs to help the local Inuit tribes that originally worked dogs of the breed to find food.
Working roles of this type require a unique combination of physical and temperamental traits that are only found within a few dog breeds, and which combine superior endurance, high energy levels, a robust and hardy build, and a great tolerance for cold and inhospitable conditions.
The Alaskan malamute’s coat is very dense and comprised of different layers to provide insulation and protection from the elements, which is vital for working roles in colder climates. This means that dogs of the breed require daily brushing and grooming to remove shed hair, and this is also a particularly heavy-shedding dog breed.
As well as shedding a lot year-round, malamutes also blow their coats twice a year, resulting in a huge amount of fur lost in a short period of time and that can be hard to keep on top of around the house.
The Alaskan malamute is a great pack dog, and they tend to thrive within multi-dog households and in families where they will get to meet and play with a lot of other dogs on a regular basis. They’re a really social breed that enjoys the company of their own kind, and they don’t like to be on their own for too long either, which means that they’re not overly tolerant of staying at home alone for very long. However, the company of another dog can sometimes help with this.
The Alaskan malamute personality is open, fun-loving, friendly and always up for an adventure, and they’re inquisitive dogs that like to be involved in everything that is going on. As this is quite a comical breed that is always looking for something to do, malamutes often get on very well with children, and love being involved in their games.
As you might expect given the malamute’s historical working role (which they are still widely used for in Alaska), the malamute is a high energy dog breed that needs a significant amount of exercise every single day. Ideally, dogs of the breed need to spend several hours each day walking and playing, but reasonably long and varied walks with plenty of off the lead time can help to keep malamutes happy.
The malamute is also reasonably intelligent, although they do often have quite a short attention span and are apt to get bored easily. This can make training the breed a challenge when it comes to interesting and incentivising the dog, and training sessions are best performed throughout the day for a couple of minutes at a time to avoid boredom and the dog disengaging from their task.
Malamutes are generally quick to pick up training commands when they give you their full attention, and when they’re in the right mood to learn, will often excel. However, a malamute that is bored or doesn’t see the incentive in working with you will soon look for other things to do, even wandering off in the middle of a session on some occasions!
The breed’s sometimes short attention span can be frustrating for their trainers, but dogs of the breed usually understand more than they appear to, and may often have already learnt the skill in question and mentally moved on whilst you are still trying to reinforce it!
Another factor that prospective malamute owners should bear in mind is that this breed has a reputation for being something of an escape artist, and their size often provides an advantage to them in terms of their ability to jump or climb over fences of a reasonable height. A bored malamute will think nothing of letting themselves out for a run or to go and check out something interesting happening over the road, and so supervision and secure fencing is vital to contain dogs of the breed.
They also tend to have a high prey drive, and so fencing is essential to protect neighbourhood cats, and care must be taken on walks to ensure that the dog doesn’t hunt wildlife too.
In terms of the Alaskan malamute’s popularity in the UK, 395 dogs and litters offered for sale over the course of a year is not a huge number, even given the breed’s 6th placed ranking on the working dog breeds list.
This reflects the fact that malamutes need quite a specific combination of traits from their homes and owners, including experience with spitz dogs and training smart, high energy dogs effectively, plenty of time to dedicate to caring for the dog, lots of exercise, and a reasonably large home. This means that many prospective malamute owners ultimately make the decision that this is not the best choice of breed for them.
The average advertised prices of Alaskan malamutes for sale in the UK are reasonably competitive, particularly given the breed’s size, and for both pedigree and non-pedigree offerings. There’s not a huge gap between the pricing of pedigree versus non-pedigree dogs either, and whilst demand for the breed is not huge, the limited availability does mean that prices don’t tend to fall much below the breed’s norms either.
Non-pedigree malamute adverts outnumbered pedigrees by over two to one in 2018, and given that the average price asked for pedigrees is not much higher than for non-pedigrees, indicates that pedigree status is not a huge consideration for most buyers of dogs of the breed.
TheDoberman pinscheris a very well-known dog breed that has been a staple sight in the UK for many decades, and which is a natural watchdog as well as an excellent pet.
The Doberman pinscher is a large dog breed that is tall and leggy with lean muscle rather than a very bulky appearance, and a distinctive black and tan colouration that makes dogs of the breed instantly recognisable and very eye-catching.
Dobermans were originally used in a variety of working roles pertaining to watchdog, guard dog and police/security duties, within which dogs of the breed tend to thrive and excel. The Doberman is a confident and intelligent dog that is excellent at taking direction and working under stress, and they are reliable, trustworthy, and very dependable within working roles.
This is a breed with a huge amount of potential for different applications, and one that suits a large variety of different types of homes and owners. However, like many large dog breeds from the working group, they require an owner that fully understands the breed and that is experienced with dogs, and that can channel the Doberman’s instincts and core traits in the right directions.
Dobermans are naturally quite territorial, which is why they’re such a good fit for guarding roles, but this also means that such dogs will often be quite territorial at home, often making a fuss if someone approaches or if a new visitor is invited in.
Dobermans can take a while to accept new people in their homes and are apt to watch them carefully until they win the dog’s trust, but Dobermans are not a breed that is unpredictable or aggressive, and they look to their handlers for direction in new situations. However, the breed can be prone to dominance with inappropriate handling, and proper management and establishing the dog’s place in the household pack is important to keep Dobermans happy and manageable.
A dominant Doberman can be quite a handful to manage, and so setting and enforcing household and handling roles is essential, and within set parameters that the dog understands and respects, the breed tends to be reliable and obedient within the home.
In terms of the Doberman’s day-to-day care requirements, the breed is both very intelligent and very energetic, which means that they need a committed owner who is able to dedicate a large proportion of their time to caring for their dog. Dobermans need a significant amount of exercise each day and this needs to combine on lead and off lead walking and plenty of variety, and dogs of the breed need a lot of mental stimulation in order to thrive too.
They do tend to get bored easily and don’t tend to tolerate being left alone at home for very long, sometimes taking to pacing and patrolling their house whilst awaiting their owners’ return.
The Doberman’s high intelligence and the strong trust that they build up with their handlers is part of what makes the breed such a good fit for working roles, and also makes them a pleasure to train. Like most smart dog breeds, Dobermans tend to learn and retain commands within just a few repetitions, and reliably execute them the vast majority of the time.
As a general rule, Dobermans aren’t huge fans of strange children, often finding them a little daunting and something best avoided. However, Dobermans can and do live very happily with children that they know well and that respect and love the dog, and like most breeds with watchdog skills, they tend to be quite protective of their favourites!
As you can see from our figures on Doberman advert numbers and pricing information from 2018, there was an exactly even split between the number of pedigree versus non-pedigree Doberman adverts placed over the course of the year.
This indicates equal demand from puppy buyers, and the price difference between pedigree and non-pedigree dogs of the breed is not really significant enough to discourage prospective buyers who wish to purchase a pedigree dog of the breed.
There’s also a steep jump up in advert numbers between the 6th placed dog breed, the Alaskan malamute with just under 400 ads placed in 2018, to the Doberman at 900.
Dobermans as a whole tend to be robust and healthy, and not overly costly to keep given the size of dogs of the breed. There remain quite a few hereditary health issues that can be found across the breed as a whole, but choosing a puppy from health tested parents can help to greatly reduce the chances of inadvertently picking an unhealthy dog.
Dobermans are good all-rounders and versatile dogs that suit a lot of different types of owners, but the breed’s intelligence, high exercise requirements, and natural watchdog tendencies all need to be considered by prospective owners to ensure that a dog of the breed would be a good fit for them.
TheDogue de Bordeauxor French mastiff is an interesting and somewhat complex giant dog breed that was originally used in its home nation of France to hunt large game.
The Dogue de Bordeaux is a large, stocky and very muscular dog with an imposing appearance and a very business-like demeanour, which is alert, watchful, and confident.
The breed has been around for a long time and is very well established, although they’ve only really begun to gain a large following within the UK over the course of the last couple of decades. The breed’s original working roles were largely devoted to hunting large prey and to a lesser extent, they were also used as fighting dogs before this was outlawed in most European countries, and the Dogue de Bordeaux possesses all of the core traits of a working group dog.
They are confident, tenacious and highly focused when working, and they are not easily daunted or discouraged from pursuing their task. However, dogs of the breed can be somewhat stubborn, and they have a tendency to sit and refuse to cooperate further when they have had enough!
The combined range of traits that make up the Dogue de Bordeaux personality are quite diverse and unique, and need to be considered carefully by prospective owners, as this is a breed that is not a good fit for everyone.
As a dog that is very large and physically strong, the Dogue de Bordeaux requires a confident and experienced owner that can channel the dog’s core traits in positive directions, manage them effectively, and provide appropriate training and care. Winning a battle with a Dogue on strength alone is virtually impossible, and so correcting bad behaviour and providing appropriate limitations is vital.
Dogues de Bordeaux are often a popular choice of pet for people looking for a guard dog or watch dog, and dogs of the breed tend to naturally be quite territorial and often patrol their home and garden instinctively. However, this trait also means that dogs of the breed are often suspicious of strangers, and require proper introductions to allow the dog to get used to a newcomer and accept them in their home.
Dogs of the breed are not always great with children either, being quite suspicious of kids they don’t know and fairly intolerant of a lot of noise and excess stimulus. However, on the flip side, Dogues often form strong bonds with the children that live with them and are often protective over them.
In terms of the breed’s coat care requirements, the Dogue de Bordeaux coat is short and fine, so very easy to care for, and they shed a moderate amount but not great quantities as a general rule.
This is a pretty smart dog breed too, and whilst the breed does need an experienced trainer that knows how to handle a confident large breed and avoid problems and dominance issues, Dogues are generally very engaged in training, and can often learn a wide range of different commands.
Good socialisation with other dogs and people from an early age is vital for Dogues de Bordeaux, to ensure that they learn the appropriate way to play and interact with others.
Dogues de Bordeaux need at least a couple of hour-long walks per day to fulfil their need for exercise, but they aren’t one of the most challenging breeds to accommodate when it comes to walks and play. They are also generally quite happy left alone to relax at home without making a fuss for a few hours, although no dog should be expected to stay alone all day without someone to check on them and allow them to stretch their legs and do their business.
One of the main downsides of the breed as a whole, and one that prospective owners need to learn about in great detail before choosing a Dogue is that the breed’s overall health isn’t great, and an average lifespan of just 7-8 years is about the norm for the breed. This is due to a significant number of hereditary health issues that are reasonably widely spread within the breed, and which also makes Dogues on the whole quite costly to keep and insure.
Whilst not all dogs of the breed will inherit health issues, the risk factors are higher than for most other breeds, which is something prospective owners need to take into account.
In terms of the Dogue de Bordeaux breed’s popularity in the UK, the dog breeds ranked in the 3rd to 5th placed positions are quite close together in terms of the number of adverts placed for each of them in 2018, which means that the order of the breeds on our list are quite prone to fluctuation on a year-to-year basis.
However, the number of Dogues advertised in the UK each year is relatively stable, as are their average prices.
The split between the number of pedigree versus non-pedigree Dogue adverts placed in 2018 is fairly close, indicating a similar level of demand for both variants amongst puppy buyers. There is a reasonable step up between the price of non-pedigree to pedigree Dogues, but given the size of dogs of the breed, the average advertised prices fall around the middle of the pack across dog breeds of a simil