7 Types of Working Dogs

Dogs With Jobs

Some dogs are companions, other dogs do serious work that truly helps others. Working dogs have real jobs that they take very seriously. These dogs ​have natural talents that are carefully honed with intensive training. Working dogs are trained to help others and they love to work.

Many kennel clubs/dog breed organizations categorize certain dog breeds in a "working group." While those breeds traditionally worked, this article is not about dog breeds; it is about the types of jobs done by...MORE different working dogs. Many of the jobs below can be done by multiple dog breeds as well as mixed breed dogs.

There are a number of different types of working dogs specially trained to do jobs. Here are some of the most common types of working dogs:

  • 01 of 07
    Police Dog with Officer
    Photo © Lori MacDougall

    Police dogs, generally called K-9s, are trained specifically to assist police and other law-enforcement personnel in the line of duty  Police dogs protect their handlers. They can chase down and hold criminal suspects who try to run from police. In some cases, K-9s might be trained to sniff out substances, but those dogs can also be categorized as detection dogs (see next).

  • 02 of 07
    sniffer-dog-OliScarff-gettynews494587183.jpg
    Oli Scarff/Getty Images News

    Detection dogs have exceptional senses of smell. A detection dog is trained to sniff out a particular substance or group of substances. Common types of substances to be 'sniffed out' include illegal drugs, explosives, blood, and more. Some detection dogs even learn to detect cancer, certain types of insects or animal feces! 

  • 03 of 07
    Soldiers with military dog
    Oli Scarff/Getty Images News

    Similar to police dogs, military working dogs assist members of the military with their operations. These dogs may be used as detectors, trackers, sentries, scouts, and for search and rescue.

  • 04 of 07
    Therapy Dog - Animal Assisted Therapy
    Victoria Yee/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

    Animal Assisted Therapy involves the use of trained, certified animals as part of a medical patient's therapeutic plan. These therapy dogs offer emotional support to sick or injured persons, often visiting hospitals and nursing homes.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07
    Search and rescue dog

    Search and rescue dogs have great agility and exceptional senses of smell and hearing. These highly trained animals serve in many different fields, including tracking, specialist search, avalanche rescue, and cadaver location.

  • 06 of 07

    Herding Dogs

    Border Collie sheepdog working a flock of sheep
    Border Collie sheepdog working a flock of sheep. Wayne Hutchinson / Design Pics / Getty Images

    Herding dogs work with various types of livestock, such as sheep and cattle. A herding dog is basically born for the job, meaning the dog is a specific breed and part of a herding breed group. However, not all herding breeds are naturally expert herders. Some can have their skills honed with training, while others are better suited to lives as companion dogs. Dogs that do become herders can also compete in dog herding trials.

  • 07 of 07
    Guide Dog Photo - Service Dog
    Photo © Don Farrall/Getty Images

    Service dogs are working dogs that have been specially trained to assist persons with disabilities. The ADA has special guidelines regarding service dogs and their treatment in public places. Some examples of service dogs include guide dogs for the blind, mobility assistance dogs, seizure alert dogs and more.

There are many other types of working dogs out there beyond this list, and new types of jobs for dogs are developed all the time. Isn't is amazing what dogs can do?