Of the nearly 80 million dogs in the USA, around 500,000 are more than just cuddly pets.
Our canine companions are workmates in a wide range of sectors: they help the disabled live with freedom, protect us as law enforcement, and keep our livestock safely under control.
Working animals are versatile and vital in their many roles: you might be surprised at the variety of skills a working dog has. But what is a working dog?
From seeing-eyes to bomb detection dogs, read on to learn about some of the main types of working dogs and the work they perform.
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1. Service Dogs
Service Dogs are trained to help people with disabilities.
They lead the blind, detect oncoming seizures, and aid with mobility for the physically impaired.
They are subject to special guidelines under The Americans with Disabilities Act. This means they can accompany their handlers to places where dogs are normally not allowed.
Any breed of dog can be a service dog, providing they undergo the appropriate training.
2. Search and Rescue Dogs
Search and rescue dogs are key to tracking, specialized search, disaster rescue, and cadaver location operations.
Search and rescue dogs save countless lives every year using their superior sense of smell and hearing.
Often deployed following disasters, common breeds of search and rescue dogs include retrievers, border collies, and German shepherds.
3. Police Dogs
Police dogs (often known as K-9s) are key team members in law enforcement.
K-9s undergo rigorous training to become unfaltering defenders of justice. They protect the police from potential threats and apprehend suspects in flight.
The police also use detection dogs to detect drugs, firearms, and other illicit materials.
Working dog breeds suited to police work include German shepherds and Belgian malinois.
4. Detection Dogs
Detection work is ideal for working animals: With a sense of smell up to 10,000 times more acute than ours, detection dogs help the police, military, and security services to detect a wide range of dangerous and illicit materials.
Drug detection dogs intercept illegal drugs and stop them from reaching the streets.
Bomb detection dogs operate in airports, mailrooms, and military checkpoints, detecting and alerting their owners to potential explosive threats.
Trainers can even teach certain specialist detection dogs to sniff out cancer, abnormal blood sugar levels, or other animals.
5. Herding Dogs
Herding dogs work alongside farmers to protect and control various livestock. It is one of the oldest jobs for working dogs.
An essential part of the agricultural industry, herding dogs are selected from specific herding breeds. However, they are also further trained to manage livestock in a wide range of challenging situations.
Typical herding breeds include border collies, black mouth curs, and English sheepdogs.
So, that’s the 101 on the roles of our loyal and multi-talented canine colleagues. There are many types of working dogs in all walks of life.
Working dogs are trustworthy and hardworking assets. They assist the disabled, detect bombs, and save lives every day. Read more about support animals.