Top 10 Working Dog Breeds That Can Get The Job Done

Throughout history, people bred dogs for guarding properties, pulling sleds, and other challenging jobs. Some of these dogs are in law enforcement, and tirelessly working alongside humans during search and rescue missions. Most of these working dogs are large and often have high energy levels. They need a lot of physical and mental stimulation to keep destructive behavior, depression, and anxiety at bay.

Despite their specific requirements, working dogs make wonderful companions! Fans of this dog breed category also agree that these dogs are incredibly protective of their people and homes. In this post, let’s take a closer look at the top 10 dog breeds you need to get the job done. 

Akita

In feudal Japan, people used the Akita for guarding the nobles and royals. This valiant dog breed also hunted fowl and large game such as bears. Akitas are originally from Japan, and believed to have existed since the 1600s. If there’s one word to describe this breed, it would be courageous. Their stubbornness and willful personality comes in handy, as they won’t back down if there’s a challenge or if anyone (or anything) poses a threat to their family or home. They would follow their loved ones from room to room, as if their goal in life is to serve their owners. 

Although this large and powerful breed’s loyalty and fearlessness are legendary, Akitas are known to be affectionate and amusing to family members. They hardly bark, but some owners say that their Akitas seem to mutter, as if they have an opinion for everything that’s happening in the house — from arranging the furniture to the time children should be in bed. Akitas are dominant, and need a patient, confident pet parent. Training takes longer than other breeds, and they do not take harsh training methods well.

Breed Overview

Weight: 100 to 130 lbs (males), 70 to 100 lbs (females) 

Life Expectancy: 10 to 13 years 

Best for: Protecting homes and their families 

Training: Difficult to train; should be trained by confident, experienced pet parents. Stubborn, but eager to please handlers. 

Grooming: Difficult to groom because of their thick coat; sheds quite a bit 

Health: May experience bloat and suffer from hip dysplasia 

Nutrition: Breed experts recommend a less calorie-dense diet when your Akita is 7 years and older to prevent kidney disease.

Alaskan Malamute

This breed is one of the oldest Arctic sled dogs. Thousands of years ago, their ancestors crossed the land bridge from Siberia to Alaska with the Mongoloid people. The Mahlemut tribe settled in the northeastern area of the Seward Peninsula, a place where there was practically no vegetation and the weather was freezing. This is where they developed the Alaskan Malamute, and used them to hunt large game and haul them back to the village. 

It’s easy to be impressed by the Alaskan Malamute’s looks. They have a wolf-like appearance, imposing stature, and huge plumed tail. Some say that they’re part wolf, but they’re really domesticated dogs with wolf-like features. With their tremendous strength, Malamutes pulled sledges filled to the capacity with food and camping supplies. They also hunted seals and drove off polar bears. Because of the work they did, these dogs grew big, strong, and fearless. The modern Alaskan Malamutes are more of companion dogs, but they still join and succeed in several dog sports including weight pulling, recreational sledding, and obedience competition. They’re friendly towards both people they know and strangers, so they wouldn’t make very good watchdogs. 

Breed Overview

Weight: 85 lbs (male), 75 lbs (female)

Life Expectancy: 10 to 14 years 

Best for: Hunting, Companionship 

Training: Easy to train; Obedience training and socialization is important to keep them from dominating children and other pets; needs an expert, confident handler

Grooming: Difficult to groom; Their thick double coat needs constant care and should be brushed every day. 

Health: Likely to suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and cataracts

Nutrition: Seek a professional nutritionist or your vet to determine the right portions of food and treats for this high-energy large breed. 

Boxer

Breeders developed the modern Boxer in the late 19th century. Their ancestors were the Bulldog and German Bullenbeisser, a breed descended from mastiffs. Their purpose was to be guard dogs, but today’s boxers are mostly loving, companion dogs. These high-spirited pups are a delight to their owners. Some say that they’re like the Peter Pan of the dog world, as they don’t fully mature until the age of three. Still others like to think that they’re the George Clooney (incredibly good looking) of dog breeds with a wicked sense of humor. 

At first glance, you’d think that their impressive appearance reflects their personality. But try being with a Boxer for a day, and you’ll immediately realize that they’re like overgrown kids — fun loving, and highly active with seemingly boundless energy. Speaking of kids, you’d love boxers as a family dog. They’re super patient and gentle with kids! They’re so affectionate that they sometimes forget their size and would climb up your lap for some cuddling. 

Breed Overview

Weight: 65 to 80 lbs (male), approximately 15 lbs less than males

Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years 

Best for: Service/therapy/guide dogs, law enforcement, and search and rescue roles

Training: Easy to train; make sure to keep training fun and exciting as this highly intelligent breed gets bored easily with repetition

Grooming: Very easy to groom; needs only occasional bathing and grooming 

Health: Has low tolerance for extreme heat and cold; light-colored boxers are prone to skin cancer. They’re also prone to developing mass cell tumors, brain tumors, and lymphoma. 

Nutrition: Boxers gain weight easily and should stick to a regular feeding regimen. Treats should not exceed 10% of their daily recommended calorie intake. Check out our post 10 Best Treats for Boxer Dogs for low-calorie snacks you can give to your dog.

Doberman Pinscher

In the late 19th century, Louis Dobermann, a tax collector from the town of Apolda in Germany, needed a guard dog that would protect him from bandits as he made rounds to collect the money. He was also the town dogcatcher, so he began experimenting with different breeds. There are no records of what breeds he used, but it’s speculated that he used the Rottweiler, German Pinscher, and the Black and Tan Terrier to create the loyal and fearless Doberman Pinscher. 

Dobies, as they’re fondly called, have a regal appearance and are often stereotyped as vicious. But it’s actually the opposite. This breed is one of the most loving and gentle dogs. Although they’re intimidating guard dogs, they’re never one to start a fight. However, they will defend their families, especially if they sense danger. It may seem like they’re independent dogs who’d rather stand guard outside their homes. The truth is, they prefer being around their people and truly enjoy being close to them. You can trust Dobies around children, your guests, or friends as long as they’re gentle. They cannot thrive in small spaces and need a large home with room to run around. 

Breed Overview

Weight: 75 to 100 lbs (male), 60 to 90 lbs (female)

Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years 

Best for: Guarding their families and homes, companionship

Training: Very easy to train; Dobies need a confident, skilled handler who can provide early, consistent training and socialization. 

Grooming: Very easy to groom; They only need occasional baths. For shinier and healthier coats, brush or use a grooming mitt once daily. 

Health: Prone to genetic health conditions such as Von Willebrand’s Disease and hip dysplasia; they’re also prone to Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus or commonly known as bloat. 

Nutrition: It’s important to keep your Doberman Pinscher in good shape by measuring their food intake, and feeding them twice a day. 

Great Dane

Taller than most people when standing on their hind legs, the Great Dane is often referred to as the “Apollo of Dogs” after Apollo, the Greek god of the sun. No one really knows how old this breed is. But there were drawings of dogs who resembled Great Danes found on Egyptian artifacts and Babylonian temples, dating back to 3000 B.C. and 2000 B.C. respectively. There’s even evidence of this breed appearing in Chinese Literature in 1121 B.C. 

Great Danes seemed to be everywhere back then. People originally called Danes “boar hounds” because they were used to hunt boars. Later on, German nobles called them Kammerhunde (Chamber Dogs) and they lived a life of luxury as pampered dogs. In the 1700s, a French naturalist discovered a slimmer boar hound that resembled a Greyhound in Denmark. He called his discovery Grand Danois, which eventually evolved into the Great Danish Dog. The name just stuck, even though the people of Denmark did not develop the breed. 

The modern Danes lost some of the ferociousness of their ancestors. They’re now better suited as companions and guard dogs. They’re usually friendly towards strangers, unless they feel that their human needs defending. That’s when they will become fiercely protective of you. 

Breed Overview

Weight: 140 to 175 lbs (male), 110 to 140 lbs (female) 

Life Expectancy: 7 to 10 years 

Best for: Guarding families and their homes

Training: Very easy to train; Danes are eager to please, but socialization and obedience training should start early and handled by a confident, highly experienced pet parent. 

Grooming: Very easy to groom; weekly brushing is fine, but during shedding season, daily brushing is essential to help keep shedding to a minimum. 

Health: Bloat is the number one health concern of Danes. To prevent serious effects of bloat, consider a surgery called prophylactic gastropexy. Other health issues include hip dysplasia and cardiac diseases. 

Nutrition: Giant breed pups like Great Danes need puppy food that are formulated for their size. Since bloat is the number one killer of Danes, make sure to give them multiple small meals instead of one big meal.

Mastiff

When you see this dog breed, the first thing that comes to mind is how massive they are. Dogs like the Great Dane might match their height or tower over them, but Mastiffs can outweigh any dog breed. In 1989, Zorba the Mastiff was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, weighing at 323 lbs! Sometimes referred to as Old English Mastiff, the Mastiff’s name is from the Latin word mansuetus, which means “tame” or “domesticated.” This colossal dog used to fight in battles and pitted against lions. For thousands of years, people have used them as entertainment, guard dogs, and war dogs. In medieval England, Mastiffs hunted big games, and guarded estates during night time. At the end of World War II, an estimated 14 Mastiffs survived in the entire country. 

This breed may look fearsome because of their size, but they’re actually docile and good-natured. That does not mean they’re nice doggies all the time. When danger arises, you can count on your Mastiff to jump in and protect you. In fact, the typical Mastiff is dignified and courageous. They’re never shy or vicious, as some people deem them to be. This breed is not a good choice for families who have very young children or frail seniors. 

Breed Overview

Weight: 160-230 lbs (male), 120-170 lbs (female) 

Life Expectancy: 6 to 10 years 

Best for: protecting the family and their property; companionship 

Training: Moderate; They have a strong protective instinct, so make sure that they’re properly socialized. 

Grooming: Moderate; You only need to brush their coat every few days, except during shedding periods when they would require at least once a day with a strong-toothed comb.

Health: Prone to Hip Dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and Gastric Torsion

Nutrition: Prevent bloat by measuring their food and feeding them twice a day. Avoid big meals, then drinking big amounts of water after. 

Newfoundland

If you’re a Disney fan, you would remember Nana, the Newfoundland Nanny employed by the Darling family from Peter Pan. Although J.M. Barrie’s account of the Newfoundland dog is fictional, there’s actually some truth to it. This breed loves children and they’re naturally gentle, patient, and sweet towards them. Fans of this breed say that they’re natural babysitters. This breed is from a Canadian province called Newfoundland, and they helped Canadian fishermen by pulling nets and hauling wood from the forest. Their history is unclear though some say that they’re a cross between the Tibetan Mastiff and the American Black Wolf, which is now extinct. Other accounts say that Vikings left these dogs then bred with the native wolves from Eastern Canada. 

This breed is massive, so even though they’re easygoing, it’s best if they’re in a spacious environment. What’s lovely about this breed is their strong work ethic and devotion to their humans. Rescuing seems to be in their instinct as well as there are many stories of Newfoundlands rescuing people following shipwreck or getting children from deep waters. However, if you’re a neat freak, the Newfie, as they’re sometimes called, is not for you. They seem to have a special skill in tracking mud and whatnots. Plus, they drool a lot!

Breed Overview

Weight: 130 to 150 lbs (male), 100 to 120 lbs (female)

Life Expectancy: 9 to 10 years 

Best for: companionship, protecting kids 

Training: Very easy to train; early socialization and training from puppyhood is essential for this breed

Grooming: Difficult to groom; needs thorough brushing several times a week and its coat picks up dirt and debris easily

Health: Prone to Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Addison’s Disease, bloat, and Cataracts

Nutrition: Experts recommend feeding 4 to 5 cups of high quality dry dog food, divided into two meals, per day.

Rottweiler

Rotties, as they’re fondly called, are popular among pet parents who want a guard dog. In the past, people used them to drive cattle to the market, pull carts for butchers, and were among the earliest police dogs. They also served in the military. This dog breed is popular (ranked number 8 on the list of America’s Top 20 Favorite Dogs of 2020) and fans of the breed formed several Rottweiler breed clubs over the years. But the club that survived World War II and continues to promote good breeding programs in Germany until today is the Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler Klub, established in 1921. 

Unfortunately, Rotties have the reputation of being vicious and unpredictable. But the truth is, well-trained and socialized Rottweilers are gentle and devoted towards their families. They thrive when they’re with their families indoors, so don’t put them outside to stand guard. If you plan to adopt or buy a Rottweiler, you should be dedicated to training and socializing them. They can become very protective, and they’ll be dangerous to everyone who gets in their way. Because of irresponsible pet parenting, there have been many tragic experiences with this breed, and some cities have banned them. 

Breed Overview

Weight: 95 to 135 lbs (male), 80 to 100 lbs (female) 

Life Expectancy: 9 to 10 years 

Best for: Guarding and protecting the family and home

Training: Easy to train; Rotties need a dedicated fur parent to train and socialize them so they can be well-mannered and calm. They need handlers who are firm, consistent, and confident. 

Grooming: Very easy to groom; A weekly brushing and regular grooming will do. 

Health: Like all large dogs, Rotties are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia. 

Nutrition: 4 to 10 cups of high quality dry dog food, divided into 2 meals, per day. Make sure that you don’t give large amounts of food in one sitting as this can cause bloat, which can be deadly to dogs. 

Saint Bernard

We know Saints as lovable, friendly, and playful. When you have this dog breed at home, you’ll immediately notice that they’re welcoming and good-natured. It’s probably innate in Saints as they used to rescue people from the bitter snows and cold of the Alps. Back in 962 AD, Archdeacon Bernard de Menthon arrived at a treacherous Alpine pass that lies 8,000 feet above sea level. Later on, they named it Saint Bernard Pass after he put up a hospice to aid travelers who passed through the area and were overwhelmed by the dangerous pass. It’s unclear when exactly the Saints started helping travelers, but there was a 1695 painting depicting dogs that looked like Saint Bernards. The monastery’s first mention of the breed was in 1703. 

Saints are not meant to be kept outdoors and should live with their family inside the house. Even though they’re calm indoors, it’s best if they have access to an outdoor area and should do well in a home where there’s a yard to romp around. They’re also not the best choice for pet parents who like order in their homes. Saints have a high drool potential and shed quite a bit, plus they track in dirt and mud. You’d love having a Saint around for snuggling while watching TV or reading a book. 

Breed Overview

Weight: 140 to 180 lbs (male), 120 to 140 lbs (female)

Life Expectancy: 8 to 10 years 

Best for: Watching the home and protecting the family and property, and companionship

Training: Difficult to train; Although they’re intelligent and eager to please you, they’re stubborn which makes training them a challenge. 

Grooming: Difficult to groom; weekly brushing is needed, but when it’s shedding season, you have to brush their coat daily. 

Health: As with any large and deep-chested breed, bloat, hip dysplasia, and elbow dysplasia are common among Saint Bernards. 

Nutrition: Choose dog food that’s formulated for large breeds. They’re prone to obesity so watch out for their calorie intake. 

Siberian Husky 

Many people have fallen in love with the Siberian Husky’s magnificent wolf-like looks, and it’s for their looks that also lands them in shelters. Their popularity also led to backyard breeders and puppy mills that do not have the dogs’ best interest and the negative traits becoming common among those ill-bred dogs. Although the Husky’s history is unclear, it’s believed that they originated from the Chukchi, a tribe of Siberian nomads. Chukchis used them as a mode of fast transportation and as family dogs. Huskies often slept with the Chukchi children to keep them safe and warm. For many generations, the tribe preserved the purity of their sled teams. The dogs the Chukchis developed are the ancestors of the present-day Siberian Huskies. 

This breed is one of the most challenging dogs to train. They are assertive and would often test the pack leader’s authority. If not well-bred and trained properly, Huskies are destructive! They’ll destroy your home, chewing up doors and even walls! They will dig up flower beds and chew your favorite shoes. They don’t howl, but oh boy, do they howl! That’s why inexperienced pet parents who are not aware of the challenges of caring for this breed often surrender their poor Huskies to shelters. However, a well-trained Husky is a joy to be with! They’re highly intelligent, charming, hardworking, and they also love to show off their talents. 

Breed Overview

Weight: 40 to 60 lbs (male), 35 to 50 lbs (female)

Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years 

Best for: Recreational dog sled races, companionship

Training: Difficult to train; not suited for first time dog owners 

Grooming: Moderate to difficult, depending where you live; they’re “clean dogs” and need just a few baths a year. Huskies living in places where the temperatures are cooler tend to shed less. Otherwise, prepare your vacuum cleaner as they’ll shed a lot in warmer weather. 

Health: Siberian Huskies are prone to cataracts, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and Corneal Dystrophy. 

Nutrition: For their size and energy level, they don’t require as much food — usually 1.5 cups to 2 cups divided into two meals. The level of protein is also adjusted for the working Husky. Make sure to always consult your veterinarian about meal portions for your dog. 

Do you have a working dog? What do you like most about them? What are your challenges in training or raising them? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

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