6 Types of Working Dogs and the Jobs They Do

While many dogs are simply companions, other dogs have serious jobs. We take a look at 6 Working Dogs and the Jobs that they do! Serious snacks - deserved!

Herding Dogs

sheep dog - dogs with jobs


Possibly best known from the famous collie depicted in “Lassie”, herding dogs (German Shepherds, Shetland Sheepdogs, Border Collies, Cannan Dogs, Komondors, etc) were bred to help ranchers move their livestock. In addition to herding, a lot of these breeds are naturally protective as well, making them good guard dogs and oftentimes reserved around strangers.

For household pets, this means your dog will most likely find a different outlet for this drive — from chasing the cat to herding the kids into a corner — which can be frustrating and even painful if he nips at your heels or calves while doing so. Find an outlet for him through rousing games of fetch, a local herding club, or competing in disc dog and agility. If you don’t give him a job, he will find one, and you might not like the one he chooses, like chewing all your shoes or trapping the cat in a corner for hours. See our top tips for dog enrichment here! 

Service Dogs

Service dogs or assistance dogs are working dogs that have been trained to assist people with disabilities. A true service dog is trained to behave well in all types of situations, so the dog can accompany the handler anywhere. Therapy dogs and emotional support dogs are not service dogs.

Some examples of service dogs include:

  • Guide dogs for people with visual impairments
  • Mobility-assistance dogs
  • Seizure dogs and other medical-assistance dogs
  • Hearing dogs for people with hearing impairments

Dog breeds commonly used include the Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Standard Poodle and German Shepard. 

Detection Dogs 

sniffer dog - dogs with jobs

Detection dogs have exceptional senses of smell and are highly motivated by positive reinforcement. A detection dog is trained to sniff out a particular substance or group of substances. Common types of substances to be sniffed out include illegal drugs, explosives, blood, and human remains. Some detection dogs even learn to detect cancer, abnormal blood sugar levels, certain types of insects (such as bed bugs), or even animal faeces. Detection dogs are used in law enforcement, wildlife biology, and health care. One of the oldest uses of detection dogs is in hunting for truffles.

The breeds often used include Beagles, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers.

Search-and-Rescue Dogs

Search-and-rescue dogs have great agility and exceptional senses of smell and hearing. These highly trained animals serve in many different fields, including tracking, specialised search, avalanche rescue, and cadaver location.

Breeds often used include Labrador retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Border Collies and German Shepherds.

Therapy Dogs

Animal-assisted therapy involves the use of trained, certified animals as part of a medical patient's therapeutic plan. These therapy dogs offer emotional support to sick or injured people, often visiting hospitals and nursing homes. They also visit schools and day care centres to help educate children about dogs.

Dogs of any breed, size, and age can become therapy dogs. But they need the right temperament, socialisation, and training. Therapy dogs must be even-tempered, well-socialised, well-trained, and non-fearful.

Dog actors

Canine thespians have performed in front of the camera for years and thoroughly enjoy unleashing their inner mutt, let’s face it nothing makes a film more heart-wrenching, emotional and wholesome than an adorable dog as the main character or sidekick. From Toto in 1939's The Wizard of Oz or Marley and Me and The Hills Have Eyes, dogs in films celebrate and portray the incredible bond that these furry lovelies have with their humans.

The versatility of a dog cannot be underestimated in the diversity of roles that a typical dog actor is expected to perform. These canine stars are primed to understand their handlers’ cues, requiring intensive training and rehearsal so that a dog’s action is not only correct, but also correctly timed and responsive to fit with an actors’ dialogue. In a dog-eat-dog world, only the very best make it to top.