Typically, working dog breeds include Collies, Dobermans, Shepherds, Terriers, Huskies and Mastiffs to name just a few. These dogs were originally bred to perform special tasks and many are still used in particular fields, such as German Shepherds and Dobermans as watch dogs or Border Collies as sheep herders. Even the smaller terriers, like the Jack Russell Terrier, were originally working dogs that were bred to root out varmints that would borough underground; beneath the terrain. Hence, the breed was named Terrier.
Border Collies are still used extensively in Australia and New Zealand to herd sheep. There are even major competitions for the feisty sheep herders, where they display their almost uncanny ability to manage and protect the herd.
German Shepherds are most often associated with guard dog duties, but even the lesser known Belgian Shepherd is called on for such an important task. A bit more square in its shape than its slightly longer cousin, the Belgian Shepherd is no less intelligent or capable of protecting its charge. Used by police and the military, the Belgian Shepherd has been assigned, along with the German Shepherd, to a variety of tasks – from hunting down escaped criminals to protecting military installations and even guarding The White House.
Meanwhile, in the dark of night, it isn’t uncommon for a Doberman Pinscher to quietly patrol a fenced-in warehouse area all alone, without the need for direct supervision, keeping a watchful eye over the perimeter. Their speed and ability to be trained to act on both verbal and hand signal commands make this dog a mainstay in any security arsenal.
While Doberman Pinschers are usually not considered the best dog for a family pet, many of the working breeds have long since taken their place next to the family hearth, at the foot of the bed in the master bedroom or even as the loyal and trusted companion, if not tea party guest, of many children. Many of the working breed love the attention of family. Jack Russell Terriers, in fact, crave attention and can be somewhat destructive to furnishing, toys, papers – almost anything within reach – if not given a lot of one on one time by their master. Like most in their breed, Jack Russells are highly intelligent, intuitive and resourceful. They, like their cousin the Beagle, can be mischievous and think of most things as merely games, without any concern for the consequences of their actions.
One of the true “working” breeds is the Polar Dog, better known around the world as the Husky. Conditioned to live and work in the colder climates, these dogs are truly hard working animals. They can be trained to pull sleds over vast stretches of the frozen tundra. The most famous of these animals were the teams of Huskies that literally saved remote None, Alaskan from being wiped out by diphtheria epidemic in 1925. Some 20 mushers and 150 sled dogs carried the life saving serum 674 miles across Alaska in just five and a half days.