# 6 - Working Dogs

A working dog refers to a dog that performs tasks to assist their human companions. Within this general description, however, there are several ways in which the phrase is used. For example:

  • To identify any dog that performs any task on a regular basis to assist people. In this context, a dog who helps a rancher manage cattle or who performs tricks for a trainer who receives pay for his act is a working dog, as is an assistance dog. This might be in comparison to a companion dog, whose purpose is primarily as a pet.
  • To distinguish between show dogs, who are bred primarily for their appearance in an attempt to match some breed club's detailed description of what such a breed should look like, and working dogs, who are bred primarily for their ability to perform a task. For example, a Border Collie who is a champion show dog is not necessarily good at herding sheep; a Border Collie who is a champion at sheepdog trials might be laughed out of the show ring for his nonstandard appearance. 
  • For some breeds, there are separate registries for tracking the ancestry of working dogs and that of show dogs. For example, in Australia, there are separate registries for working and show Australian Kelpies; the working registry encourages the breeding of any Kelpies with a strong instinct to herd, no matter their appearance or coat color; the show registry encourages breeding only among Kelpies whose ancestors were registered as show dogs and who have only solid-colored coats
  • As a catch-all for dog breeds whose original purpose was to perform tasks that do not fit into a more specific category of work. For example, the American Kennel Club uses Working Dogs to describe breeds who were originally bred for jobs other than herding or hunting. Such jobs might include pulling carts, guarding, and so on. 

Service Dogs

A service dog is a dog that is specially trained to help disabled people with everyday tasks. Most service dogs assist the blind and the deaf, although they are used to assist people with physical or mental disabilities. They are trained and bred by private organizations. A service dog can be identified by the scarf or harness it wears.

Service dogs normally start training when they are six months old. They are trained how to pick up objects, open and close doors, and operate light switches. The dogs also receive additional training based on their intended use (i.e. guide dog for the blind, signal dog for the deaf). During their training, the dogs usually spend up to a year with a host family to become acquainted with working around people. Service dogs continue their training after they are formally placed with a person, usually on a yearly basis.

The process of obtaining a service dog varies by each organization. Normally, an application must be submitted, and a wait list is usually involved. The costs for a service dog also vary.

Service dogs and their handlers enjoy in most countries special protection which gives them equal access to public facilities, such as restaurants, parks, taxis, and airplanes.

Alaskan Malamute
Anatolian Shepherd Dog
Australian Kelpie
Bernese Mountain Dog
Black Russian Terrier
Canadian Eskimo Dog
Doberman Pinscher
Finish Lapphund
German Pinscher
Giant Schnauzer
Great Dane
Great Pyrenees
Grater Swiss Mountaindog
Neapolitan Mastiff
Norwegian Buhund
Portuguese Water Dog
Pyrenean Mastiff
Pyrenean Mountain Dog
Saint Bernard
Siberian Husky
Standard Schnauzer
Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog
Swedish Lapphund
Swedish Vallhund
Tibetian Mastiff