Dogs and their jobs: 12 canine professions

Dogs aren’t just a wonderful and loving family pet. They are also used across different services and professions to bring help to those in need. Here are twelve different jobs that a dog could have:

Service dogs

A service dog has been trained to perform tasks to aid someone with a disability. Examples include guide dogs, diabetic alert dogs, and epilepsy/seizure alert dogs.

Therapy dogs

Therapy dogs provide psychological or physiological therapy to people, usually those other than their handlers. Examples include dogs that visit patients in hospitals to raise their morale levels or those that visit nursing homes and retirement homes.

Police dogs

A police dog has been specially trained to assist the police and law enforcement officers in their duties. There are several types of police dog. For example, there are dogs that help with crowd control, drug sniffer dogs, evidence sniffer dogs, and search dogs. The most common breed used for a police dog is the German Shepherd.

Firehouse dogs

Many years ago, when horse drawn carriages were used by firefighters to get to the scene of a fire, Dalmatians used to run alongside the horses to defend them from other animals that might try to attack them or distract them. This meant that the firefighters arrived at the blaze sooner. Nowadays, this practice is discontinued. Some fire stations still have a resident Dalmatian as a mascot; however they usually do not have any set duties.

Search and Rescue dogs

Search and rescue dogs can detect human scent from a long ways away, meaning that they can help to locate missing people. They are often used in search efforts when somebody has been reported missing, especially in the wilderness or vast countryside. Bloodhounds, Newfoundlands, St. Bernards, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds are among some of the breeds often used for search and rescue dogs.

War/Army dogs

Army dogs are used in the military to help with a number of key activities including counter insurgency operations, detecting explosive devices, assisting with the searching of people/buildings/vehicles/locations and enhancing a soldier’s sense of security.

Farm dogs

Dogs are used by farmers to assist them in many ways. One of the most common is for herding sheep, cattle, and other livestock. Border Collies are often used due to their natural herding instincts and their ability to learn new skills and techniques quickly.

Sled dogs

Sled dogs are still used in remote parts of the world as the primary method of transport, both for people and goods. In places like Alaska and Antarctica, where the heavy snow and remote locations make it impossible for man-made transport, sled dogs such as Huskies and Malamutes are an essential part of everyday living.

Guard dogs/Watch dogs

Dogs have been used throughout history as protectors for their owner’s family, home, and business. It is often the larger breeds of dog that are used for this as they are more effective at warding off unwanted intruders. Popular guard dog breeds include Bullmastiffs, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, and Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

Racing dogs

Greyhounds and Lurchers are the two breeds that are traditionally used for track racing. Similar to horse racing, the dogs race around a circular track to see which one is the fastest. Instead of being ridden (what a sight that would be!), they chase a fake rabbit around the track.

Show dogs

While it may appear that show dogs have things easy, being pampered all day and treated to top notch grooming, it’s actually much harder than it looks. Show dogs undergo extensive training to ensure they perform well in the ring.

Entertainer dogs

Some dogs are specifically trained to provide entertainment to people. Whether that’s in a show on TV or in a film, these dogs go through a vigorous training process to enable them to perform “tricks” for our amusement. Examples of films where the dog is the star of the show include Beethoven, Pudsey the Dog: The Movie, and Marley and Me.


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