7 Types of Working Dogs

Dogs With Jobs

Black seeing eye dog leading visually impaired woman

 Hero Images/Getty Images

While many dogs are companions, other dogs do serious work that truly helps others. Working dogs have real jobs that they take very seriously. These dogs have natural talents that are carefully honed with intensive training. Working dogs are trained to help others and they love to work.

Many of the jobs done by dogs can be done by multiple dog breeds as well as mixed breed dogs. Kennel clubs and dog breed organizations categorize certain dog breeds in a "working group." While those breeds traditionally worked (such as herding or guarding), today those dogs may not perform those functions.

Explore the types of working dogs and the jobs they are specially trained to perform.

  • 01 of 07

    Police Dogs

    Police Dog with Officer
    Photo © Lori MacDougall

    Police dogs, generally called K-9s, are trained specifically to assist police and other law-enforcement personnel in the line of duty  Police dogs protect their handlers. They can chase down and hold criminal suspects who try to run from police. In some cases, K-9s might be trained to sniff out substances, but those dogs can also be categorized as detection dogs. The usual breeds used include German shepherds and Malinois.

  • 02 of 07

    Detection Dogs

    sniffer-dog-OliScarff-gettynews494587183.jpg
    Oli Scarff/Getty Images News

    Detection dogs have exceptional senses of smell. 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, human remains, and more. Some detection dogs even learn to detect cancer, certain types of insects (such as bed bugs), or animal feces. They are used in law enforcement, wildlife biology, and in health care. One of the oldest uses of detection dogs is in hunting for truffles. The breeds often used include Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, German shepherds, and Malinois.

  • 03 of 07

    Military Working Dogs

    Soldiers with military dog
    Oli Scarff/Getty Images News

    Similar to police dogs, military working dogs assist members of the military with their operations. These dogs may be used as detectors, trackers, sentries, scouts, and for search and rescue. Most of the military working dogs are German shepherds, Dutch shepherds, and Malinois.

  • 04 of 07

    Therapy Dogs

    Therapy Dog - Animal Assisted Therapy
    Victoria Yee/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

    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 persons, often visiting hospitals and nursing homes. Dogs of any breed, size, or age can become therapy dogs but they need the right temperament, socialization, and training.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Search and Rescue Dogs

    Search and rescue dog

    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, specialized search, avalanche rescue, and cadaver location. Breeds often used include Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, border collies, and German shepherds.

  • 06 of 07

    Herding Dogs

    Border Collie sheepdog working a flock of sheep
    Border Collie sheepdog working a flock of sheep. Wayne Hutchinson / Design Pics / Getty Images

    Herding dogs work with various types of livestock, such as sheep and cattle. A herding dog is basically born for the job, meaning the dog is a specific breed and part of a herding breed group. However, not all herding breeds are naturally expert herders. Some can have their skills honed with training, while others are better suited to lives as companion dogs. Dogs that do become herders can also compete in dog herding trials.

  • 07 of 07

    Service Dogs

    Guide Dog Photo - Service Dog
    Photo © Don Farrall/Getty Images

    Service dogs are working dogs that have been specially trained to assist persons with disabilities. The ADA has special guidelines regarding service dogs and their treatment in public places. Some examples of service dogs include guide dogs for the blind, mobility assistance dogs, seizure alert dogs and more. Dog breeds commonly used include Labrador retriever, golden retriever, standard poodle, and German shepherd.

There are many other types of working dogs out there beyond this list, and new types of jobs for dogs are developed all the time. Isn't it amazing what dogs can do?