Dogs with Jobs: The World of Working Canines

While they may not wear a uniform or punch a clock, there are plenty of dogs with jobs! Here’s a look into the world of working canines.

Jan 10, 2024By Lauren Rey
dogs with jobs the world of working canines

From lending a helping paw and saving lives to sniffing out contraband and catching criminals, there are all sorts of dogs with jobs across the country. Here’s a look at some of these amazing pups that are putting in the work!

Service Dogs

service dog
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Service dogs come in all shapes and sizes and can include every breed from tiny Toy Poodles to gargantuan Great Danes. These dogs provide a variety of services, from guiding the visually impaired and detecting impending seizures to sniffing out potential allergens and fetching medications. Service dogs save lives!

While often confused with therapy dogs or emotional support animals, service dogs are quite different. Because service dogs are trained to provide medical-related tasks, they are the only dogs with legal protections allowing them to accompany their owners in places like stores and restaurants where dogs are traditionally not allowed.

Police Dogs

police patrol dog
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From sniffing out explosives and narcotics to helping their two-legged partners chase down criminals, there are a variety of ways in which dogs serve in law enforcement. Police dogs typically fall into one of two categories — patrol or detection, although some are dual-trained and the titles and definitions may vary by agency.

Patrol dogs, sometimes also called apprehension dogs, are typically used to assist officers on daily patrols, serving warrants, and apprehending suspects. These dogs may also sometimes be dual-trained to sniff out narcotics or explosives on the scene. Dog breeds used for patrol often include the Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherd, or German Shepherd for their strength and agility.

police detection dog
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Scent detection dogs, sometimes also called tracking dogs, are typically used to find or track things with their powerful noses. This can include narcotics, explosives, fire accelerants, and cadavers. In missing-person cases, these dogs are often deployed to the scene to help with tracking. Scent detection dogs are often seen at airports, train stations, border checkpoints, and other areas where law enforcement may be screening for harmful substances or devices.

Dog breeds most often used in scent detection roles include Bloodhounds, Labrador Retrievers, and German Shepherds. When it comes to agricultural scent detection, Beagles are most commonly used at airports to sniff out illegal produce and pests. The Beagle’s compact size, friendly demeanor, and strong nose make them so perfect for this job that the aptly nicknamed Beagle Brigade in US Customs was created.

In recent years, some police departments across the country have begun adding a third type of working canine to their roster — therapy dogs. These therapy dogs are often used to help comfort victims, especially children, during police interviews. They also assist with community events and provide support to both officers and citizens.

Military Dogs

military dog
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Just like police dogs, military dogs serve in a variety of roles across all branches and divisions. From serving side by side with soldiers sniffing out explosives and checking cargo for contraband to being deployed in elite tactical missions and rescue operations, military dogs do it all!

Many different breeds have served in the military including German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Pitbulls, Labradors, and Dobermans, but the breed you’ll most often see serving today is the Belgian Malinois. Renowned for their intelligence, drive, loyalty, strength, and agility, the Belgian Malinois has all the qualities of an elite canine soldier.

Search and Rescue Dogs

search rescue dog
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From sniffing out survivors in earthquake rubble to digging through avalanches for missing skiers and trekking through caves to find trapped hikers, search and rescue dogs help save lives every day. Natural disasters such as earthquakes, avalanches, tornadoes, landslides, and hurricanes often lead to victims being trapped in their homes, cars, or under debris. Search and rescue dogs are deployed to these areas to help guide first responders in finding survivors in the aftermath.

Unfortunately, it’s not just natural disasters that can occur. From building collapses to bombings, search and rescue dogs assist in man-made disasters as well. Sadly, some of the most famous search and rescue dogs still talked about to this day, were those of 9/11. The world watched, with bated breath, as those four-legged heroes searched for survivors in the rubble during the days following 9/11.

Farm Dogs

border collie
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From herding sheep to protecting the flock, you’ll find all kinds of hardworking dogs on farms across the country. Dogs have been used in farming pretty much since its inception. From helping farmers round up the flock after grazing to keeping watch and protecting against predators like wolves and coyotes, dogs on farms have a full schedule.

Farming breeds can vary widely depending on the job. Herders tend to include high-energy breeds like Border Collies, Austrian Cattle Dogs, Australian Shepherds, and Old English Sheepdogs. While guardian breeds such as Great Pyrenees, Anatolian Shepherds, and Caucasian Shepherds are commonly put to work for protection. German Shepherds are also sometimes used, pulling double duty, as both herding and protection.

Lauren Rey
By Lauren Rey

A lover of all animals, Lauren’s background is in the veterinary world, but she is now a content writer on travel, wildlife, and all things pets! She’s based in Florida, but when not writing, she’s usually plotting out a new road trip route with her partner-in-crime. Pickles is a mixed-breed rescue dog that loves hiking, road trips, and Starbucks just as much as her mom does!