The working dog group members were all bred to help people do specific jobs. From helping assist with guard duties and farming tasks to being key helpers in full-blown search-and-rescue missions, the working dog group features breeds that are smart and focused. The working dogs have larger build bodies which help them with both the power and stamina needed to do strenuous work.
A beautiful breed within the working group, Siberian Huskies were bred to run, pull a sled and work as part of a dog team group. The Siberian Husky is still the main breed used in mushing competitions like the famous Iditarod race which takes place in Alaska each winter.
The Portuguese Water Dog has a thick, curly, waterproof coat and a muscular build which helps him swim. They were originally bred to assist fisherman retrieve their broken nets and help bring messages back and forth from the shore. Portuguese Water Dogs need mental stimulation and a chance to swim frequently.
Many “workers” are extremely friendly to people, but the same dog who is so devoted to his family and the frequent visitors that he has come to know, can be aloof and cautious with strangers. Some working dog breeds get along very well with other animals, while others from the group can be aggressive with other dogs or may tend to chase cats, something to consider if you have other animals in your household. Be sure to read additional information on each breed to get their “report cards” in this area.
The AKC Working Group category is currently is made up of twenty-six different breeds. From these, we have recommended six breeds to be generally excellent choices for families with children. This does not mean that other working group dog breeds cannot do well for families, it just means that, in general, based on our research, we cannot recommend the majority of the breeds from this group for families with younger children.
Breeds in the Working Dog Group
The current AKC Working Dog Group breeds include the:
- German Pinscher
- Giant Schnauzer
- Great Dane
- Great Pyrenees
- Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
- Neapolitan Mastiff
- Portuguese Water Dog
- Saint Bernard
- Siberian Husky
- Standard Schnauzer
- Tibetan Mastiff
Recommended Working Dog Group Breeds for Families
There are six dogs from the Working Dog Group that we feel can be exceptional additions for many families. They range in size from the Samoyed, which weighs between thirty-five and sixty-five pounds to the Mastiff, a giant dog that can be as tall as thirty-two inches and weigh nearly two-hundred pounds. Because most of the dogs in this group are large to very large, they need to be trained immediately so that they can operate safely in your household. They are quite intelligent and take quite well to obedience classes, so if you can make the commitment as a family to work with your dog, you will end up with a well-behaved dog that you can control.
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Great Dane
The Samoyed has few health issues, but was initially bred for Northern climates, and has a coat that is designed for warmth. If you live in warmer climates, check with your veterinarian to see how you can keep your Samoyed comfortable during the summer months. One possibility is to look into a shorter summer cut.
The Boxer is also a breed that tends to do better in cooler climates.
There are a few dogs in this selection of favorites that should only be obtained through a reputable breeder who is aware of the breed’s genetic health concerns and who breed to exclude these genetic defects. The breeds of greatest concern for serious inbred genetic defects are the Newfoundland and Mastiff.
The Great Dane can make a lovely family member, but can stand as tall as a human when up on its back legs. Be aware of the precautionary measures to take when having such a large dog around children. Great Danes are very sweet and gentle, but must be trained to keep their size issues from becoming a danger to babies and very small children.
There are three breeds that we additionally recommend from the working dog group with certain reservations: the Bullmastiff (not to be confused with the Mastiff, which is on our recommended dogs list), The Great Pyrenees and the Siberian Husky.