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6 dog breeds that love to work

Which dog breeds love to work? Is a working dog right for your family? From herding to hunting, here’s a list of breeds that have working-dog instincts.


There are some dogs who want to lie around on the sofa, chewing their favorite snacks, watching television and being adored. Now we know that all of our dogs want that at some point during the day, but there are other breeds that are so much happier when they are given a “job” to do. While many of these working dog breeds make wonderful pets, they are happier and healthier when they are given time to give into their working-dog instincts.

Is a working dog right for your family? It depends. Before you adopt, ask yourself:

  • Do you have the energy to keep up with exercise needs?

  • Do you have a way to keep him entertained when he’s home alone?

  • Do you have a fenced yard where he can run off pent up energy?

  • Do you have a dwelling that gives him space to thrive?

  • Do you have the time to keep up with necessary training?

What are some of the breeds of dogs that thrive when given a job to do? We’re glad you asked:

Australian Shepherds.Cowboys love these herding dogs. Australian Shepherds have a keen and penetrating gaze and are hard workers—especially when herding sheep, horses, or cattle. If they don’t have livestock to herd, they will herd you, your children, and other pets in your house. Aussies, as they are known, are extremely intelligent and can easily manipulate a novice owner of this breed. For those looking for a dog who loves to learn, is tireless in his pursuits and who is extremely intelligent, then an Aussie might just fit into your life.

Bernese Mountain Dog.These beautiful, family-friendly dogs have long, silky hair and are intelligent, strong, and agile. A Bernese Mountain Dog is fiercely loyal to his family and is highly trainable. In fact, this breed is ideal as a therapy dog, again because of its intelligence, but because of its calm demeanor. If you’re looking for a dog who will pull a cart, drive livestock, or run an agility course, you may want to bring a Bernese Mountain Dog home. They require daily, active exercise and ongoing training. They are good family pets for the family with time and energy for training and exercising.

Boxer.This strong dog loves his people but may try to outsmart his owner if he finds he can get away with it. Originally, Boxers were used to run down large game—including boar and bison—and would hold it in place until the hunter arrived. They were also used as couriers to deliver missives during war time. They crave the attention of their humans and are patient. However, if you don’t have the time or energy to take this dog on long walks and play rousing games of fetch, he may not be the breed for you.

Doberman Pinscher.The Doberman Pinscher is energetic, athletic and needs a lot of exercise—interactive challenges, but also free play. They need to unleash their energy and do better when they can be off-leash and run in an enclosed area. Doberman Pinschers are known for their agility, their ability to be trained, and their tracking skills. Keep in mind, this dog is wiry and strong, and needs to be challenged to keep him healthy and happy.

Mastiff.In the past, the Mastiff served as both companions and watchdogs. Their watchdog tendencies come to the forefront because they are courageous and fearless. Even though this breed will protect you and your home, he is a gentle giant who is considered gentle, good natured, and loyal. The Mastiff enjoys being with his family but may not do well in a crowded environment surrounded by strangers.

Siberian Huskies.The Siberian Husky was bred to be used as a sled dog and that career path is still one many Huskies follow today. You may also find Huskies as companion pets or working as therapy dogs. They have an outgoing personality, are good natured, and happy to please. The Husky requires daily vigorous exercise and retain a strong predatory drive. For the pet parent, this means they will need to keep a watchful eye on small pets in the household.

Other Working Dog Breeds

There are other breeds that do jobs but may not be considered a working breed by American Kennel Club standards. For example, Labrador and Golden Retrievers (and any of the Retriever breeds) are known for hunting and retrieving prey. Spaniels and Setters, as well as many of the Terrier breeds are used for hunting—whether it’s flying or burrowing prey. As with any dog breed you want to share your life with, do your homework and ask yourself the important questions—space, time, commitment, etc.—before you decide to welcome a new dog into your home.

Robbi Hess, award-winning author, is multi-petual: She shares her home with two Devon Rex kittens, three adult rescue cats, a mini poodle, a Goldendoodle, three lizards and two ferrets. When not caring for her pets, she is an editor, speaker, time management and productivity guru, content creator, social media manager and blogger. She writes at All Words MatterMy Divas Dish, and is the story editor and chief cat herder at Positively Woof.

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