Detection dog patrolling in London
Guide dog in Brazil

A working dog is a dog used to perform practical tasks, as opposed to pet or companion dogs.

Definitions vary on what a working dog is, they are sometimes described as any dog trained for and employed in meaningful work; other times as any dog whose breed heritage or physical characteristics lend itself to working irrespective of an individual animal's training or employment; and other times again it is used as a synonym for herding dog.[1][2][3]

Working dog types

Search and rescue dog working in Seoul

Roles performed by dogs that sometimes sees them classified as working dogs include:

Working dogs in Australia

Dogs herding sheep in Australia

Working dogs are known as an Australian icon. They are prevalent in Australia due to the large agricultural industry. Working dogs can be seen herding cattle or sheep and are also used to guard poultry from foxes and cats. A report in 2019 stated that there were over 270,000 stock herding dogs in Australia.[9] Some popular breeds for farm work include Border Collies, Kelpies, Maremmas and Australian Cattle Dogs.

Events to showcase the skills of working dogs are held through Australia alongside key local festivals and events. Trials and performances include high jumps, sheepdog speed trials and sled or weighted pulls.[10]

Kennel club classification

When competing in conformation shows, a number of kennel clubs classify various pedigree dog breeds into a "working group" or "working dogs group", although it varies between kennel club what breeds are so classified. The Kennel Club classifies mastiff, pinscher, sled dog, select livestock guardian dog and some other breeds in their working group.[11] The American Kennel Club's working group and the Canadian Kennel Club's working dogs group are very similar to The Kennel Club's except they include all livestock guardian dog breeds and all full sized spitz breeds (not just sled dogs) recognised by the clubs.[12][13] Both the Australian National Kennel Council's and New Zealand Kennel Club's working dogs groups comprise herding dog breeds and select livestock guardian dog breeds recognised by those clubs.[14][15] The Fédération cynologique internationale has no working group.[16]

See also


  1. ^ "working dog". Collins Dictionary. HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C. 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2020. a dog of suitable breed or training kept for its practical use, such as herding sheep, rather than as a pet or for showing
  2. ^ "working dog". Merriam-Webster. 2019. Retrieved 21 January 2020. a dog suitable by size, breeding, or training for useful work (such as draft or herding) especially as distinguished from one suitable primarily for pet, show, or sporting use
  3. ^ "working dog". Lexico. Oxford University Press. 2019. Archived from the original on January 26, 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2020. A dog trained to work with livestock.
  4. ^ a b c d Olson, Patricia N. (1 August 2002). "The modern working dog—a call for interdisciplinary collaboration" (PDF). Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 221 (3): 352–355. doi:10.2460/javma.2002.221.352. PMID 12164529. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 January 2020. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  5. ^ "British Carriage Dog Society". 2018-01-29. Archived from the original on 29 January 2018. Retrieved 2022-04-11.
  6. ^ a b c "Working dog". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2019. Retrieved 21 January 2020. any of various breeds of dog bred as guard, herding, draft, or rescue animals.
  7. ^ Rogak, Lisa (2011). The dogs of war: the courage, love and loyalty of military working dogs. New York: Thomas Dunne Books. ISBN 9781250008817.
  8. ^ Coppinger, Raymond; Schneider, Richard (1995). "Evolution of working dogs". In Serpell, James (ed.). The domestic dog: its evolution, behaviour and interactions with people. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 21–50. ISBN 0521425379.
  9. ^ "The history of the working dog, an 'indispensable' Aussie icon". ABC News. 2019-06-25. Retrieved 2022-07-12.
  10. ^ Gasparini, Faith. "Dog Lovers Show | Outdoor Arena | Talented Working Dogs Live". Dog Lovers Show Sydney. Retrieved 2022-07-12.
  11. ^ "Working Group". The Kennel Club. The Kennel Club Ltd. 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  12. ^ "Working Group". American Kennel Club. American Kennel Club, Inc. 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  13. ^ "Working Dogs". Canadian Kennel Club. 2020. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  14. ^ "Group 5 (Working Dogs)". Australian National Kennel Council. Australian National Kennel Council Ltd. 2015. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  15. ^ "Standards of the breeds: Group 5 – Working Dogs" (PDF). New Zealand Kennel Club. Dogs New Zealand. 2020. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  16. ^ "FCI breeds nomenclature". Fédération Cynologique Internationale. 2020. Retrieved 22 January 2020.