Popular Working Dogs

Popular Working Dogs

Alaskan Malamute

Malamutes have been bred in the Arctic regions of Alaska for generations for use as sled-pullers and draft animals.  They are true pack animals, with the instinct either to lead or be led, so it is important that they receive rigorous obedience training as puppies.  Malamutes are immensely strong animals that thrive on an outdoor life and have the stamina for plenty of exercise.  They remain superb competitors in the popular sport of sled-dog racing.

Breed Category

Working Dog

Temperament

Alaskan Malamutes are friendly, devoted companions that make affectionate pets.

Appearance

Malamutes have beautiful, thick guard coats over a two-inch, oily undercoat that protects them from the rigors of the Arctic winter.  The color is usually solid white or has shadings of gray, black, sable, or red.  Their bodies are substantial and muscular, with powerful shoulders, deep chests, and strong-boned legs.  The neck is broad and the head is wide with a pronounced stop and tapered muzzle.  Almond-shaped eyes are small, while the ears are pricked and well-furred, designed to retain body eat.  Tails are bushy, carried over the back.

Size:    Height at withers 23-28 in.

Weight:    75-123 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Considerable

Grooming Requirements:    Considerable

Life Expectancy:    12 years

Things to Consider

  1. Need rigorous training
  2. Require a great deal of exercise
  3. Not well-suited to an urban environment

Akita

These large, versatile hunting dogs are an extremely popular breed in Japan, where they have been bred for more than 300 years.  The first record of these dogs is from the early seventeenth century, when a famous nobleman who was exiled to Japan’s rugged northern mountains is said to have developed the precursors to the Akita.  These dogs were traditionally used to hunt bear, deer, and wild boar.  They are dignified, aloof animals, powerfully built and very confident.  Today, they are most widely used in police work or as watchdogs.  Males are especially prone to exerting dominance and have a tendency to fight with other dogs, but rigorous early training can lessen this tendency.  They are devoted to their human family, but they are probably not ideal dogs for inexperienced owners.  They require a great deal of exercise and stimulating play, and a well-fenced yard is a necessity to keep this independent, alert breed happy.

Breed Category

Working Dog

Temperament

These dogs are generally brave, alert, mild-tempered, and good-natured (though they tend to be aggressive toward other dogs).

Appearance

Akitas are typical Spitz dogs, with slightly vulpine facial features.  The head is massive; it is broad with a deep muzzle, deep-set triangular eyes, and small, pricked ears.  The muscular, thick neck gives way to a wide, deep chest and heavily boned body.  The feet are round and catlike.  Akitas have double coats that can be any color.  The harsh outercoat is about two inches long on the body and covers a dense, soft undercoat.  The tail is carried high and is either curled over the back or against the flank.

Size:    Height at withers 24-28 in.

Weight:    75-110 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Considerable (Long daily walk and off-leash run)

Grooming Requirements:    Considerable

Life Expectancy:    10-12 years

Things to Consider

  1. Occasional hereditary eye problems
  2. Aggressiveness toward other dogs
  3. Can be stubborn and difficult to train

Doberman Pinscher

Elegant, agile, and intelligent dogs, Doberman Pinschers originated in Germany around 1890.  Created by breeding short-haired shepherd stock with mixtures of Rottweiler, Black-and Tan Terriers, and smooth-haired German Pinschers, Dobermans were bred with the aim of producing a terrier with the skills of a watchdog.  Indeed, they are popular throughout the world as police or tracking animals.  Doberman Pinschers are energetic dogs that need a great deal of stimulating exercise.

Breed Category

Working Dog

Temperament

Dobermans have acquired a reputation as fearsome animals, and some may be aggressive and demonstrate fear biting, although this can usually be controlled with firm handling.  Most Dobermans are affectionate, sociable, and faithful animals, but they must be well trained and are probably safest in the hands of an experienced dog owner who can provide the necessary consistent discipline.

Appearance

Dobermans are characterized by their wedge-shaped muzzle, lean head, and strong, almost square body silhouette.  The ears naturally hang at the back of the head, but are often cropped in the US so that they stand erect.  With dark, almond-shaped eyes and a long jaw, the Doberman has a keen, alert expression.  The neck is reasonably long and gives way to a deep chest and robust body, capable of great stamina.  The short, thick coat is black, brown, blue, or fawn, and the tail is short.

Size:    Height at withers 24-28 in

Weight:    66-88 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Considerable

Grooming Requirements:    Moderate

Life Expectancy:    10-12 years

Things to Consider

  1. Hereditary heart disease may be a problem in this breed.
  2. They may be aggressive with children they are unfamiliar with.

German Pinscher

The origins of this alert, sometimes high-strung, breed lie with the Doberman, Miniature Pinscher, and other pinscher types, although it is also closely associated with the Standard Schnauzer.

Breed Category

Working Dog

Temperament

Pinschers have natural protective instincts toward home and family.  They are generally willing learners, though they need consistent discipline.  The breed has all the essential qualities of a watchdog and companion, and it will not back down from a dispute with other dogs.

Appearance

This medium-sized dog has erect ears, square proportions, and a powerful muscular body built for endurance and agility.  The coat is dense and smooth, usually fawn, red, or black-blue.

Size:    Height at withers 17-20 in

Weight:    25-35 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Moderate

Grooming Requirements:    Minimal

Life Expectancy:    12-14 years

Things to Consider

  1. German Pinschers are energetic dogs that require a good deal of attention.

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

The ancient Romans introduced the forebears of this rare breed to the Alpine region, where they were bred as draft animals to haul sleds or small carts through the mountainous villages.  Gentle and robust, these dogs are among the earliest descendants of the Mastiff breeds; they are also related to the Saint Bernard breed.

Breed Category

Working Dog

Temperament

Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are rarely aggressive toward humans, but may display aggression toward other dogs.  They make excellent, affable companions and vigilant watchdogs.

Appearance

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is characterized by a powerful neck and shoulders and has muscular hips.  It has a robust head, a lively, animated expression, powerful jaws, and medium-sized dark-brown eyes surrounded by black rims.  The ears are positioned well back on the head and hang down to mid-cheek level.  The hard, glossy topcoat is black with rust and white markings.  The body is muscular and broad.

Size:    Height at withers 23-28 in

Weight:    130-135

Exercise Requirements:    Moderate

Grooming Requirements:    Moderate

Life Expectancy:    11-13 years

Things to Consider

  1. Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are generally good with children, but can be difficult to handle outdoors if they are aggressive with other dogs.

Great Dane

Despite their name, Great Danes are really German dogs and are known as the Deutsche Dogge in their homeland, where they were initially bred to hunt wild boar.  Some zoologists believe that the Mastiff breeds originally came from Asia.  In Germany, the Great Dane has been cultivated as a distinctive breed for at least 400 years.

Breed Category

Working Dog

Temperament

These elegant, powerful, dignified, and affectionate dogs thrive on family life.  They tolerate children and other animals, and obedience training usually dissipates any stubbornness.

Appearance

Great Danes are majestic dogs with large heads and powerful limbs.  The skin is taut all over the body and the short, sleek coat may be fawn, black, blue, brindle, or harlequin.  The head is well-defined, with a large jaw and slightly pendulous lips.  The ears are set high on the head.  The neck is long and well arched and the chest is deep and broad.  Feet are round and catlike with arched toes.  The tapering tail is carried as an extension of the back.

Size:    Height at withers 28-32 in

Weight:    Proportion to height

Exercise Requirements:    Considerable

Grooming Requirements:    Minimal

Life Expectancy:    9-10years

Things to Consider

  1. This breed is prone to hip dysplasia and heart problems.

Rottweiler

Rottweilers have a reputation as formidable and sometimes threatening dogs, although their ferocity has been somewhat reduced by selective breeding.  It is likely that these dogs are descended from one of the drover dogs of ancient Rome, and it is thought that the Romans brought their Tibetan Mastiff ancestors to Germany more than two thousand years ago.  Rottweilers need plenty of vigorous exercise, and they are not suitable pets for inexperienced dog owners because of their size and power.

Breed Category

Working Dog

Temperament

Rottweilers are superb watchdogs and they respond well to obedience training, though owners must be prepared to devote considerable time to this.  They are generally good-natured animals, but–if challenged by other dogs or stranger–they may show their temper and demonstrate their naturally strong urge to protect their family.

Appearance

Rottweilers are handsome dogs, mainly black, but with tan markings on the legs and face.  The coat is dense and short, with an undercoat on the neck and thighs.  The body is heavily set and powerfully muscular.  The strong, arched neck supports a large, broad head with a short, square muzzle and robust jaws.  Almond-shaped eyes are dark brown, and the ears are positioned high and wide on the head.  Rottweilers have deep, broad chests, heavily boned legs, straight, slightly sloping backs, and tails that are often docked.

Size:    Height at withers 22-27 in

Weight:    90-110 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Considerable

Grooming Requirements:    Moderate

Life Expectancy:    11-12years

Things to Consider

  1. These dogs are extremely protective of their families and should not be considered by inexperienced dog owners.

Bullmastiff

So far as is known, Bullmastiffs were bred in the later part of the nineteenth century in England by gamekeepers who crossed the powerful Mastiff with the fast and aggressive Bulldog to create a large, powerful dog that would overpower and hold poachers.  Alert, agile, and immensely strong, Bullmastiffs still make exceptional watchdogs.  These dogs are usually reliable around children, but they are too strong for them to control and are best kept by experienced dog owners.

Breed Category

Working Dog

Temperament

The ferocity of their forebears has largely been bred out of today’s Bullmastiffs, and they are generally calm, intelligent animals.  They are very protective of their human family, but they are sometimes resistant to training.

Appearance

Muscular and robust, Bullmastiffs are substantial dogs with heavy bones and powerful bodies.  The large, wide head has moderate, black muzzle and characteristic wrinkle on the forehead when alert.  The jaws are large with slightly pendulous flews.  Small, triangular ears are positioned on top of the head and hang slightly forward.  The muscular, broad neck merges with the chest, which is wide and deep.  The short, hard, flat coat is red, or brindle in shades of red and fawn and requires only minimal grooming.  The feet are large and compact with black nails.

Size:    Height at withers 24-27 in

Weight:    100-130 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Considerable

Grooming Requirements:    Minimal

Life Expectancy:    10-11 years

Things to Consider

  1. These dogs may be prone to gastric torsion.
  2. They can be difficult to control due to size and power.
  3. They are sometimes resistant to training.

Mastiff

Heavyset, muscular creatures that exude power, Mastiffs are possibly the most imposing dogs in the world.  They have an ancient lineage:  Carvings of Mastiffs are on ancient Assyrian friezes dating from the sixth century B.C.  The Romans took them to Britain, and their name probably derives from the Anglo-Saxon word masty, meaning “powerful.”  This breed is more properly called the “Old English Mastiff,” since the term “mastiff” is used to describe an entire group of giant dogs.  Mastiffs are exceptionally powerful dogs, and they suit experienced dog owners rather than novices.

Breed Category

Working Dog

Temperament

Mastiffs are excellent watchdogs and demonstrate great loyalty and affection for their owners.  They are generally dignified, calm, and easygoing pets, but they do need plenty of space and exercise.

Appearance

The AKC stresses that a dog’s height should come from the height of the body, rather than from long legs, and this sums up the Mastiff.  They are heavily built, muscular dogs with sturdy, densely boned limbs, broad necks, and massive, square heads.  The eyes are set wide apart on the broad head, and the heavy muzzle is black.  The forehead has wrinkles, which are more pronounced when the dog is alert.  Ears are small and triangular in shape, set high on the head.  The short coat is easy to maintain and is usually colored apricot-fawn, silver-fawn, or a dark fawn brindle.

Size:    Height at withers 27-30 in

Weight:    175-190 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Moderate

Grooming Requirements:    Minimal

Life Expectancy:    9-11 years

Things to Consider

  1. These dogs may not be suitable for households with young children due to their large size and sometimes clumsy nature.
  2. They need a large amount of space.

Boxer

Energetic, alert, and intelligent, Boxers are excellent guard dogs and tolerant family pets.  They are descended from the German Bullenbeisser breed, possibly crossed with Bulldogs and Great Danes to create a tough working dog.  Boxers live their life at high speed, so they need and enjoy plenty of exercise and games.  They will submit to training, but tend to exhibit exuberant, puppylike behavior well into old age.  They are alert and self-confident animals, though they also make devoted family pets and are patient with small children.  Boxers are very clean dogs, and some even groom themselves in a manner similar to cats.

Breed Category

Working Dog

Temperament

Boxers are alert, playful, very patient, and good with children.  They are loyal dogs and wary of strangers.

Appearance

The Boxer’s main identifying feature is the large head with upturned nose and slightly wrinkled face.  They are well-muscled dogs, with a close-fitting, short coat, and give the impression of being aggressively built animals.  Colors are fawn and brindle with white markings on the chest, face, and feet.  Boxers have a blunt muzzle and large jaws with a dark mask in contrast to the head color.  The triangular ears are set wide apart on top of the head and are raised when the dog is alert.  Set high, the tail is usually docked and carried high.

Size:    Height at withers 21-25 in

Weight:    55-70 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Considerable

Grooming Requirements:    Minimal

Life Expectancy:    11-12 years

Things to Consider

  1. A small percentage of these dogs have hereditary deafness
  2. They may also be prone to heart problems and hip dysplasia.