“Working like a dog” isn’t a phrase that came from nowhere. The phrase is commonly used to explain how hard you are working because dogs in the Working Group really do put in a full day’s work!

The group has breeds that were purpose bred to help man. Today we’re going to look at the working dog group and some of its popular breeds.

What Are Working Dogs?

While the answer to that question may be straightforward, it really does depend on who you ask. For the most part, a Working Dog is a breed that has been bred to perform a certain task for humans. Through this definition, we can find a group of American Kennel Club (AKC) registered breeds whose lineage dates to the earliest relationship with mankind.

If you decide not to take the AKC’s definition of a Working Dog, you could say that any dog that does a task for a human is a Working dog. For the purposes of this article, we are going to only consider the AKC’s definition.

The AKC used to consider dogs bred for herding to also be Working Dogs, but in 1983 they broke the two groups into two different groups.

What Jobs do Working Dogs Do?

There are numerous jobs that a dog can be trained to do. Some of the job titles for dogs would include:

  • Draught dogs – These dogs would be used to pull carts of goods for transportation. They would be used by the postal service or even to transport military weapons during times of war.
  • Turnspit dogs – This job doesn’t exist anymore, but a turnspit looks like a hamster wheel. The dog would walk in the wheel, and it would connect to a roasting spit. This early power source could also be used for other household chores.
  • Therapy dogs – Studies have proven that providing cheer and entertainment to people who are in hospital, hospice or elderly care environments can lead to improved outcomes.
  • Service dogs – these dogs help their human handler who are disabled or somehow handicapped.
  • Rescue dogs – These dogs are trained to help people who are in bad situations. This can be finding people in collapsed buildings to people who have become lost in the great outdoors.
  • Herding dogs – These dogs are used to keep control of livestock while also protecting them from danger.
  • Sled dogs – Today, sled dogs are used more for sport, but hundreds of years ago these dogs would be the only reliable transportation for people living in extreme cold.
  • Hunting dogs – These dogs would be used to assist hunters. They were either trained to find, track or retrieve game.
  • Cadaver dogs – These pups are special scent hounds who have been trained to seek the remains of someone.
  • Detection dogs – These dogs can be used for bomb or drug detection. They also have found use in hunting termites or bed bugs in residential settings.
  • Police or Military dogs – Working closely with their handler, these dogs excel at tracking and immobilizing suspected criminals.

Popular Working Dogs

The American Kennel Club considers there to be thirty dogs that fall in the Working Dog category. Here is a small selection of some of the most popular breeds.

Portuguese Water Dog

The breed was made for the water. It commonly would be brought aboard the boats of Portuguese fishermen with the purpose of herding fish into their nets or retrieving gear. Today, the Portuguese Water Dog has found renewed use in aquatic rescue.

Alaskan Malamute

The Malamute is a very loyal and loving breed that thrives on hierarchy. They will show their affection on the entire family but will always look to the “alpha” to know their place. If they are paired with a weak or uncertain handler, they will begin setting their own rules.

Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a beautiful and loving breed. One look from them could melt your heart. Today, they put their work in at drafting and carting events, or by providing warmth for their family.


Newfoundland dogs, or Newfies for short, are beautiful, large working dogs. Their coloration ranges from black to brown or both black and white. These powerful dogs are quite dignified and are known for being cheerful and watchful.


Boxers are intelligent and alert dogs. They’ll make a great guard dog for the family. They show strong loyalty to those who have gained their trust, and they’ll spend their days playing and making their family laugh. Their protective nature makes them a great choice for families as they are also gentle with children.

Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard’s can weigh anywhere from 120 to 180 pounds. Females will be on the smaller end of that spectrum. This breed originates in the Swiss Alps and is one of the world’s most famous and recognizable dog breeds. Like Newfies, they are patient and watchful.


The Rottweiler comes from the mastiffs of Roman times, and their stance and stature is that of power. The breed is calm and confident, but they could also be aloof with people they do not know. Their attitudes also make then great guardians for livestock or families alike.

Working Dog Group in Conclusion

Although you might not need these dogs for their working traits, they are wonderful family pets. We hope you enjoyed this summary of the Working Dog group!