What Are Working Dogs?
Working dogs are a diverse group of dogs that have helped to guard homes, rescue people in dangerous situations, and have even gone to war. The working dogs group are bred for strength and stamina to perform pastoral work and guard duties. Many breeds in this category are excellent companion dogs and extremely smart and athletic.
Our previous blog post discussed primitive dog breeds, and this article will discuss many breeds that represent the multiple of different working dogs there are. This is part 1 of our working dog breeds series where we explore the 80+ dog breeds considered to be working dogs.
Working Dog Breeds
Let’s discuss the different working dog breeds and what makes these breeds fall into this diverse group.
The Saarloos Wolfdog was developed through selective crossbreeding with the goal to produce a dog that is like the German Shepherd, but with natural traits closer to its wolf ancestors. However, it turns out this breed lacked the drive and ambition to attack and are great guide dogs for the blind.
The Saarloos Wolfdog actually tends to flee when it sees a stranger. The temperament of this breed is highly intelligent and independent, but can suffer if they feel too lonely. The Saarloos Wolfdog strongly resemble a wolf and has a cream/brown color to their coat. They typically weight around 80 lbs, are a little over two feet tall, and live over 10 years.
The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog was developed through breeding programs for the Saarloos Wolfdog, so they also have strong resemblances and traits to their former ancestors. This breed is fearless, resilient, and also reserved around strangers. The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is obedient and faithful with their family and owners. This makes them excellent house dogs and friends.
Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs have a straight, thick coat that is wolf-like gray with white masks. This working dog typically grows to be a couple feet tall, weighs between 44-57 lbs, and lives 12-16 years.
The King Shepherd has been recognized since the late 1990s and was developed in the United States. This breed loves working as guard dogs and herders. The King Shepherd have a serene and unruffled temperament that also allows them to be a great family dog.
King Shepherds have either smooth or rough coat types. Their coat colors are black (and may have red, gold, or cream markings) or sable with black markings. This working dog breed weighs between 90-145 lbs, stand between 25-29 inches tall, and lives 10-11 years.
The Laekenois working dog breeds are the first of the four Belgian Shepherd Dog breeds developed in the 1880s. They are the rarest of these Belgian Shepherd Dog breeds. The Belgian Laekenois are protective of their family and home, so they make a great working watchdog. The Laekenois is affectionate and friendly with those that they are familiar with.
This working dog breed’s coat colors include fawn, mahogany, red, red sable, or fawn sable. Their coat requires regular brushing. The Belgian Laekenois are 22-26 inches tall, weigh from 55-65 lbs, and live over 10 years.
The Belgian Sheepdog was bred from 1893 at a kennel in the village of Groenendael, which is near Brussels. This is a very popular dog breed and are awesome pets for owners who understand the importance of early socializing and training.
This working dog breed thrives on companionship. The Belgian Sheepdog has a natural herding behavior such as chasing and circling others as well as nipping at their heels. The Belgian Sheepdog is about 22-26 inches tall, weighs 51-75 lbs, and live over 10 years.
The Belgian Malinois is a natural guard dog and thought to have originated in Malines, Belgium. This dog breed is the short-haired variety of the Belgian Shepherd Dog. With responsible training, the Belgian Malinois makes a loyal companion with responsible training. This breed is ideal for those who have an active life and wants to include their pups with them.
This working dog breed’s coat is either gray or red, and both colors contain a black overlay. The Belgian Malinois is 22-26 inches tall, weigh between 60-65 lbs, and live over 10 years.
The Belgian Tervuren is the most popular of the Belgian Shepherd Dogs and named after the village where it was developed and bred. This working dog breed possesses protective instincts, so is commonly used for police work and as a watchdog.
These dogs are between 22-26 inches tall, weigh between 40-65 lbs, and lives over 10 years. Their coat sheds regularly and needs grooming often. The Belgian Tervuren is a smart and self-assured herding dog that is affectionate and possessive with loved ones.
The German Shepherd Dog is both adaptable and obedient, and is a respected guard dog and tracker that is used by police and armed forces around the world. This working dog breed’s height is between 23-25 inches, with a weight from 50-90 lbs, and lives over 10 years. The German Shepherd coats are sable or black.
The German Shepherd has a reputation for being the best all-purpose worker. This breed is large, agile, smart, loyal, and confident. These are just a few qualities that makes them one of the most popular dog breeds.
The Picardy Sheepdog (also called the Berger Picard) is an uncommon French pastoral breed. This engaging and intelligent working dog breed is used to herd and protect flocks of sheep in northern France and other parts of Europe. This breed is very devoted to their owners and develops a strong attachment to them. The Picardy Sheepdogs are very reserved and wary of strangers.
With patient and quiet training, this is a great family dog. The Picardy Sheepdog is about 22-26 inches tall, weighs between 51-71 lbs, and lives 13-14 years. Their coat is a fawn-brindle or dark gray, and this breed may have additional white markings.
Dutch Shepherd Dog
The Dutch Shepherd Dog was originally bred for farm work and sheep herding and is self-sufficient, active, and smart. This working dog breed is not very common and rarely seen outside the Netherlands. This breed has been used for security and police work, as a guide dog, and in obedience trials. They can do it all!
The Dutch Shepherd breed is affectionate and loyal with its family members, but is naturally wary of strangers. The Dutch Shepherd breed includes long-haired, short-haired, and rough-haired varieties with a fawn-brindle color. They are 22-24 inches tall, weigh around 68 lbs, and live 12-14 years.
The Mudi dog breed was a working dog by cattle and sheep herders in Hungary. This is a rare breed, with only a few thousand in existence. Most Mudis are still in Hungary, with a few living in Finland, and very rarely other parts of the world.
This working dog is energetic and tough, but friendly and adaptable as well. The Mudi dog is a great family dog that requires a ton of exercise to stay fit and happy. The Mudi is about 15-19 inches tall, weighs between 18-29 lbs, and lives 13-14 years. Their coat is fawn, black, blue Merle/ash, or brown, and they may have a few white markings.
The Standard Schnauzer was determined a breed in southern Germany in the 1880s. This dog was used as a versatile farm dog with a powerful reputation for rat hunting.
This working dog breed is affectionate and lively, making it a great family dog. Their coat is primarily black, and they average 18-20 inches tall, weigh between 31-44 lbs, and live over 10 years.
The Giant Schnauzer was developed by crossing the Standard Schnauzer with larger local dogs in southern Germany. This working dog breed is a more powerful and larger version of the Standard Schnauzer. The Giant Schnauzer is used by security forces in Europe as a police dog, as well as for tracking and search and rescue duties.
They are bold, extremely intelligent, and loyal and have a pepper and salt colored coat. This working dog breed stands around 24-28 inches tall, weighs between 65-90 lbs, and lives over 10 years.
Bouvier des Flandres
The Bouvier des Flandres was a working dog breed developed in Belgium and northern France so it could herd, guard, and drive cattle. This breed was used as a messenger and ambulance dog in World War I. This almost caused the breed to become extinct, so during the 1920 breeders focused on developing them.
This working dog breed is a wonderful guard dog and family dog today. The Bouvier des Flandres dogs are easy to train, calm, and has strong protective instincts. Their coats that come in a multitude of colors needs to be groomed several times a week and trimmed every three months. The Bouvier des Flandres stands about 23-27 inches tall, weighs between 60-88 lbs, and lives over 10 years.
Bouvier des Ardennes
The Bouvier des Ardennes is an active former cattle herder developed in the Belgian Ardennes. This breed is rarely seen any longer since the loss of farms in the area led to a serious decline of their population. In 1985, breeders located a few dogs and re-introduced the dog, so it is not entirely extinct.
The Bouvier des Ardennes are also considered working dogs that average 20-24 inches tall, weigh 50-89 lbs, and live over 10 years. Their coats can be a variety of different colors.
Croatian Shepherd Dog
The Croatian Shepherd Dog is a smaller and lightly built but active and alert shepherd dog. This working dog breed is easy to train for work. However, this dog may be more difficult as a house dog due to their strong herding and guarding instincts.
This dog breed has an unusual curly coat feature to its black fur that is very recognizable. The Croatian Shepherd Dog is usually around 16-20 inches tall, weighs between 29-44 lbs, and lives 13-14 years.
The Sarplaninac used to be known as the Illyrian Shepherd Dog and was renamed after where it originated, the Sarplanina Mountains of Macedonia. These working dog breeds thrive in the outdoors.
This dog breed can be sociable through its protective temperament, but the size and energy levels typically don’t make the best family dog. The Sarplaninac’s coat can be any solid color, they are usually over 2 feet tall, weighing between 70-100 lbs, and live around 11-13 years.
Karst Shepherd Dog
The Karst Shepherd Dog used to be known as the Illyrian Shepherd Dog, but it was divided from another breed with the same name and renamed the Karst in the 1960s. These working dog breeds with an iron-gray coat were used to guard and for herding in the alpine Karst region of Slovenia.
Karst Shepherd Dogs can be great companions with early socialization and careful training. These working dog breeds are between 21-24 inches tall, weigh between 55-93 lbs, and live 11-12 years.
Estrela Mountain Dog
The Estrela Mountain Dog was bred from the Estrela Mountains in Portugal as a livestock guardian against predators to protect flocks. These working dogs are friendly and loyal. The Estrela Mountain Dog is also very determined, so needs steady training.
The breed is both long-coated and short-coated with a wolf-gray, wolf-gray black, or wolf-gray black brindle with some white markings on them. The Estrela Mountain Dog is 24-28 inches tall, weighs 77-132 lbs, and lives over 10 years.
The Portuguese Watchdog is thought to have descended from the powerful mastiffs that nomadic herders brought into Europe from Asia. The Portuguese Watchdog is also referred to as the Rafeiro de Alentejo, and this was named after the Alentejo region of Portugal. These working dogs have been used for guarding as they are very suspicious of strangers.
This breed seems to carry physical features similar to Labrador Retrievers, as opposed to the typical Mastiff. However, they can easily be differentiated with their wolf gray and brindle coats. Their fur can be a mix of gray, brown, or red. The Portuguese Watchdog is about 25-29 inches tall, weighs between 80-130 lbs, and lives around 12 years.
Castro Laboreiro Dog
The Castro Laboreiro Dog was named after its home village in the northern Portugal mountains. This working dog breed has a unique bark that begins low and then becomes high-pitched. This family dog was bred to work to guard livestock. The Castro Laboreiro Dog is loyal to its family and owners, but can be aggressive with strangers.
This working dog breed has a thick, resistant coat with colors including black, chestnut, and mahogany. The Castro Laboreiro Dog is around 21-25 inches tall, weighs between 55-89 lbs, and lives 12-13 years.