AKC Working Breeds Group

Working Class Dog Breeds:

Property and personnel guarding, water and disaster rescue, locating hidden bombs and drugs, pulling sleds, retrieving fishing nets, and assisting the blind, deaf and disabled are the jobs for the Working Breeds. Humans have relied on dogs to perform difficult jobs, some of which humans can’t do, for centuries. Naturally for a dog to perform these jobs, he has to be of some size and weight, so you will not find “little” dogs among the group. These dogs are fairly large, strong and tend to be excellent watch and guard dogs.

Property and personnel guarding, water and disaster rescue, locating hidden bombs and drugs, pulling sleds, retrieving fishing nets, and assisting the blind, deaf and disabled are the jobs for the Working Breeds. Humans have relied on dogs to perform difficult jobs, some of which humans can’t do, for centuries. Naturally for a dog to perform these jobs, he has to be of some size and weight, so you will not find “little” dogs among the group. These dogs are fairly large, strong and tend to be excellent watch and guard dogs.

As a rule, working class dogs are very intelligent, easy to train and make excellent companions. Unfortunately, they don’t always make the best family pets due to size and weight. Here’s the list in alphabetical order:

Portrait - adopted Rottweiler-
Real working class dogs!

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The Japanese Akita is in the working breeds class due to his great success as a guard dog. This is a bold, stubborn, independent and strong breed with moderate exercise needs. When once his exercise requirements are met, the Akita becomes a calm, well-mannered house pet, loyal and devoted to his family and VERY protective of them.

Alaskan Malamute
This is an independent, strong-willed family companion dog that enjoys the company of people. His working career includes big game hunting and pulling sleds, something which he still does. The breed is also trained for search and rescue work. The Alaskan is a fun-loving dog that craves family interaction.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog
Anatolian Shepherd’s come to us from Turkey and are among the serious working breeds that excel as watch and guard dogs that mean business. However. they are reported to be easy-going house pets when their work is done but when on the job, they are all work. The Anatolian is fairly easy to train, especially in guard work. This do is used to guard flocks of sheep and livestock from wolves, bear, coyote, etc. This is a rugged dog.

Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese, from the working breeds class dogs group, was a draft and herding breed from Switzerland that could withstand cold temperatures and long nights but longed to be with her family of humans at the same time. She is loyal to family, not much of a guardian but sweet and well-mannered in the house. She does well with the kids. Keep in cool climate. Subject to sunstroke.

A Bernese Mountain Dog at the beach.
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Black Russian Terrier
This is another of the working breeds that excels at guarding and watchdog work, yet is a devoted family pet at the same time. The Black Russian stays close to family members and is protective of them, even getting along with small pets in the family. They are reserved with outsiders; strangers and animals.

Boxers come from Germany and are really people-friendly at heart. At one time there were used as police dogs. They can be clowns and quite silly at times. The Boxer is laid-back, loves to play and romp with family and kids and wants to be part of whatever the family is doing. They are an affectionate and fun-loving breed.

The primary job of the Bullmastiff is guard dog, and that he does well. He’s said to be a blend of the Mastiff and Bulldog to get size and speed combined. At the same time, this is a devoted, kind and laid-back companion dog for his family of humans. He’s good with children if raised with them and is very protective of his family and property. The breed is easy to train, loves training and MUST be trained starting early as a puppy.

Doberman Pinscher
The “Dobie” is another of the working breeds from Germany that is a guard dog and is all business. He’s intelligent, very trainable, even enjoys training and must be heavily socialized starting as a tiny puppy. He is used in police work, search and rescue and private guard duty. He's a family dog who loves to play fetch, get tummy rubs, go for walks, but is not good with kids.

German Pinscher
The German Pinscher is not related to the Doberman and is one of the smallest of the working breeds. In fact, about all this guy does is chase rats and other small vermin. The is a good watch dog, patrolling the house for intruders and is a fine family dog, full of play and affection. She’s good with older, well-mannered children that don’t intimidate or irritate her too much, but rather just get out and run and play ball with her. She’s protective of family and property to a degree.

Giant Schnauzer
Giant Schnauzer’s are bold, intelligent and very territorial. They are protective of their family and property. As part of the working dog breeds group, they are used mainly as guard dogs and in police work. The breed is quite playful but not very affectionate. They do well in a family but can be too rambunctious for children.

A young Giant Schnauzer
puppy w/o docked tail or clipped ears.

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Great Dane
The Great Dane originally came from Germany and was used for guarding and hunting large game and is considered one of the working class dogs. Today it is a family companion dog and best friend that gets along well with children, other dogs and strangers. He’s so friendly that he is not the greatest guard dog. A male Dane can stand 35 inches tall at the shoulders and weigh 180 pounds.

Great Pyrenees
This one from the working dog breeds group comes from France in the 1600’s when it was names “The Royal Dog of France.” She was used to guard sheep and chateaus. The breed is a calm, well-mannered family dog that needs an alpha type (leader) type master as the dog tends to dominate if given the chance. The Pyrenees is a bit playful calm and well adjusted when not provoked.

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
The Swiss Mountain Dog is a loyal, gentle, calm family pet that gets along well with children and remains very protective of her family and home. She has been used to guard livestock, property and persons and today is used for herding livestock and as a companion dog. This is a good family pet.

Komondor’s come from Hungary and look like the working end of an old fashioned floor mop. They are one of the most independent and strong-willed of the working breeds. These working class dog breeds will dominate if given the chance so a dominating owner is needed. The Komondor is a family dog and gets along well with responsible children, protecting them to the end. The Komondor is first a livestock protector; all else is secondary.

This is another product from Hungary with a long history of guarding livestock. The Kuvasz is a great family pet who loves children and even other pets in the house, but only in HER house. Problems can arise if kids come over to play and she perceives the play to be “fighting” at which time the dog will attack the visiting child as an aggressor. As a member of the working dog breeds group, this dog most enjoys guarding sheep and family.

Mastiff playing at the beach
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The (English) Mastiff can reach 190 pounds and his main job in life is to guard things, which he does well. His energy and exercise needs are low, but his bite is BIG. If the Mastiff is properly socialized and trained starting at about 4 weeks and continued on, he will be a calm, easy-going, well-mannered house pet and family dog that will do well with the kids and protect everyone. He’s actually quite affectionate!

Neapolitan Mastiff
Of all the variety in the working dog breeds group, this Italian version of the Mastiff is unique. The breed goes back to ancient times, nothing new, and is primarily a guard dog, not new, but it is a stay-at-home guard dog. That’s new! Yes, the breed was bred to be a family dog and stay home to protect the family and home. Here’s 150 pounds of ferocious guard dog just looking for anyone to come to the door to do harm, and he’s all over them!

This is one big dog. Standing around 28 inches at the shoulder and weighing 150 pounds for the male, they are first class water dogs who has aided in many water rescues as well as acted as pack dogs on land. The Newfoundland truly does belong with the working breeds group! The breed is pretty easy to train and they make a good family pet as long as they get plenty of play time, interaction with people and they like dogs too.

Portuguese Water Dog
Water Dogs originally worked as fishing aids. Their job was to scare fish into nets. This breed likes anything as long as it involves water. This dog loves to have fun and is a good family dog. She’s affectionate, playful and likes children and usually other pets and dogs. This Water Dog needs lots of daily exercise.


The Rottweiler dates back to ancient times possibly as Roman drover dogs for herding and guarding livestock which puts the breed in the working breeds group. Today they are used in police, search and rescue, drug location and military work in addition to being family companion pets. If getting a Rottie, make sure your choice dog was heavily socialized and trained starting around at least 4 weeks old and continued onward. The Rottweiler is foremost a guard dog!

A St. Bernard showing off her tongue
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Saint Bernard
These dogs weigh up to 200 pounds and are used effectively for search and rescue, especially in snow covered areas. The breed is calm and very gentle. They were sued to pull sleds and carts in the middle-ages. Today, they are more a companion and family dog. The St. Bernard is tolerant with children although there’s a risk of injury due to the dog’s extreme weight and size. The breed is too friendly to be much of a guardian.

The Samoyed comes from Russia and joined the working breeds club because it is a sled pulling reindeer guarding herding workhorse that thrives in frigid temperatures. The dog is also gentle with children with an affectionate, playful nature toward the whole family. The Samoyed gets along with strangers and other dogs, generally but is a bit stubborn and not always easy to train and not a good guardian. Too friendly.

Siberian Husky
Sibe’s as they are called came to America around 1925. They were known for their sled pulling abilities and are part of the working breeds list. The Husky loves people and is a good family dog who is full of energy, playful and affectionate. He must have plenty of interaction and companionship with his family along with plenty of daily exercise. This is not a guard dog, as he’s just too friendly.

Standard Schnauzer
The Standard Schnauzer is in between the Miniature and Giant versions. This working breed was used for guarding livestock and chasing down rats in the old days but is now used more as a companion and family pet. The Standard Schnauzer is an excellent watch dog and guard dog and though only around 30 pounds, is able to inflict a decent wound when provoked by an intruder. She is great with children but wary of strangers and unknown dogs. She makes a terrific house pet for a dominating, alpha-type owner.

The Black Tibetan Mastiff
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Tibetan Mastiff
The Tibetan has been around since ancient times and is a member of the working breeds group due to it’s centuries of labor guarding everything you can think of. Even today, the main use for the breed is guardian. However, this 150 pound protector from Tibet is a devoted family dog that loves to play, is affectionate and generally good with other pets and dogs.

That’s all the working class dog breeds the AKC has listed so far. Any more and we’ll list them.

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