Types of Working Dogs and Service Dogs

It’s just like Donna Summer once said: She works hard for the money! That’s right, we’re talking about service and working dogs. We know, a “working dog” can sound a little strange at first. Can a dog even have a 401(k)? But these heroic pups perform real jobs and look adorable while doing it.

Today is all about the working and service dogs of the world. We want to break down the types of services they provide and some of the top breeds in these industries. PAWZ loves all dogs regardless of employment status, but these guys do ruff work that deserves a special shoutout. It’s an honest day’s work for these pups, so let’s get started

What Is a Working Dog?

First thing’s first: we need to define a working dog. Not every breed out there will be able to perform these tasks, even if you have the smartest poodle at the dog park.

Basically, a working dog is intended by breeders to perform practical tasks. (Sorry, but being able to binge-watch Bridgerton with you doesn’t count.) These kinds of services can be part of a team, usually with at least one human that directs either a few dogs or a pack.

Examples include guard dogs and watchdogs, herding dogs, sled dogs, therapy dogs, guide dogs, military working dogs, and even search-and-rescue dogs.

Get your camo collection fits ready because these dogs are prepped for anything you throw at them. There are certain characteristics in dogs that make them ideal candidates for work. Not all breeds can handle the work, but even within a breed, not every dog is meant for a job.

These are the qualities trainers need to look for in working dogs:

  • Intelligent
  • Determined
  • Able to be trained
  • Independent

Here are a few examples of working dog gigs and what they entail:

Search and Rescue

While many search and rescue teams consist of military personnel, they also require the assistance of dogs. These teams find people when they go missing. This occurs primarily in disaster situations, but if you hear about individuals that go missing while hiking these pups will come looking.

Bomb and Drug Sniffers

You’ve probably seen these police dogs around many times if you like to travel. Bomb and drug-sniffing dogs work closely with agents to literally sniff out illegal drugs at the airports. They also work overseas and nationwide to help law enforcement find bombs with their super-powerful sense of smell.

This type of work also includes dogs that go to war. These touch guys and gals keep us safe at home and help eliminate threats abroad.

What Is a Service Dog?

Service dogs and working dogs often get confused with one another, but the difference is really in the name! Service dogs provide a service as opposed to performing tasks. It might seem like the same thing, but those services are usually for individuals instead of a large group.

This is kind of like their human counterparts. Think about it this way: Federal officers work to keep the population safe, whereas a nurse or caretaker handles responsibilities for one person.

Service dogs are trained for individual needs, and they help keep their humans safe. Even if they work in a situation that allows them to help multiple people, it’s always one human at a time.

If you or someone you know has a service dog, well we highly suggest grabbing a shirt from our dog mom or dog dad collection. Be proud of the work your pup provides and the undeniable love you two share. Then, proudly wear your pup parent gear everywhere you go!

It’s easy to see how truly special these service pups are. Just like with working dogs, not all pups from any breed will do. In fact, the process for training is intense. Even if some dogs start, it isn’t a guarantee they’ll graduate from the programs. So, here’s what your service pup had above the rest:

  • Loyalty
  • Highly intelligent and trainable
  • Kind and gentle
  • Patient
  • Ability to stay focused regardless of distractions

The list might not be huge, but we know how hard it can be to embody these values and never waver. It’s official: we don’t deserve dogs!

Let’s take a look at some of the types of services these pups provide here:

Therapy or Emotional Support

Dogs providing emotional support to humans may live with the human they help or live with a trainer that works in a hospital. This type of service would help an individual struggling with their emotional or mental health.

We already know that dogs provide us so much love and support, but sometimes people go through situations that are especially difficult. Coping can be hard, so supporting pups are crucial.

There’s another group of emotional support animals that are equally important. Many people out there suffer from anxiety and emotional disorders that require constant monitoring. Emotional support dogs will be there every day and provide comfort. Many videos have gone viral containing these pups and their humans. We just want to know why there’s always someone cutting onions whenever we watch 😭

Medically Trained Dogs

These dogs will provide individuals with life-altering conditions safety. For example, a person who deals with a seizure disorder will need a pup that can be there for them in case one strikes. A dog that is trained for these situations will be able to sense a seizure coming on and alert their human to the impending situation. These service dogs provide their humans with comfort and safety.

Seeing Eye Dog

While this does technically fall under the category of medical professionals, the work these dogs do is especially unique. A seeing-eye dog is trained to help their human in every aspect of their life. While these people are capable of going through life without their dogs, the amount of support and safety service dogs provide is unmatched.

From being out in public to getting around the house, service dogs are there every step of the way. It’s easy to see that these pups truly love their humans and the help they can provide.

Shelter Dogs for Service

Thankfully, many trainers are realizing the potential of shelter dogs for these jobs and services. For example, pit bulls were originally bred as nannies for kids — utilizing their need to please their humans to train them for service work is an amazing journey for them and us.

Our mission is to donate to no-kill shelters nationwide, and we do this with every purchase made on our website. The best part? The more shelters we are able to support, the more pups that can get a chance to help their families. If you’re looking for a collection to check out on our site, we recommend our Best Friends Animal Society fits.

These are all about telling the world about your love for pups and advocating for all the pups out there looking for their furrever home. These pieces are so cute and comfy that you’ll want to live in them every day!

If you’re wondering which shelter pups might be best suited for service work, we’ve got you covered:

What Are the Most Popular Breeds for Service Dogs?

While not every service dog is from the breeds in the working group, certain breeds are more popular than others in their fields. These are the breeds that you can most likely expect to see working or providing a service to their humans:

  • Labrador Retriever
  • German Shepherd
  • Golden Retriever
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Poodle
  • Saint Bernard
  • Border Collie
  • Labradoodle
  • Staffordshire Terrier
  • Mastiff
  • Rottweiler
  • Bullmastiff
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Boxer
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Great Dane
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Newfoundland
  • Sheepdog
  • Siberian Husky
  • Anatolian Shepherd Dog
  • Black Russian Terrier
  • Cane Corso
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Tibetan Mastiff
  • Komondor
  • Akita
  • Standard Schnauzer and Giant Schnauzer

These are some of the most intelligent and obedient breeds around. They work hard, take direction well, and aim to please dog owners. They’re also very loving and willing to provide their families with security and safety whenever necessary.

Remember to Keep on Walking

While we all love these service and working dogs for being amazing, don’t forget to keep on walking. We want to pet every dog we come into contact with of course, but these guys are on the job. They need all their attention aimed at their people to make sure they don’t miss anything. It might take all our willpower, but it’s so important to let these pups do their jobs.

We hope you’ve had so much fun learning about all of the jobs out there for dogs. These guys are true heroes: Strong, resilient, hard-working and so loyal to their humans. At the end of the day, we're all blessed that dogs even exist at all. And all they ask in return is a bone and a belly rub!


Working Dog Breeds: Based on the American Kennel Club (AKC) Classification System | DogBreed Experts

ADA 2010 Revised Requirements | Service Animals

20 Dog Breeds That Are Best as Service Animals | NewsWeek

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