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Dogs That Work - A Labor Day Salute

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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For most people, dogs are beloved four-legged members of the family. They sleep in the house, take periodic trips to the groomer and live a life of doggie-luxury. However, for some dogs, this type of life is not for them. Certain breeds work for a living – and like it that way. For these dogs, spending their days active and working is better than a week of lounging around in the house.

Here are a list of some of the more common breeds and their typical traits. Even though they work for a living at a variety of jobs, many are also enjoyed as pets.

English Cocker Spaniel. The English version of the cocker spaniel is an avid and active hunter. One of the smallest members of the land spaniels, this breed is often used in the hunting of game such as birds and small land creatures. The breed is also an excellent gun dog. The English cocker is a member of the sporting breed group of dogs. The American cocker spaniel is more often found as a companion breed.

Cardigan Welsh Corgi. There are two breeds of Welsh corgis, both members of the herding breed group. Despite their similar appearance, these two breeds are completely separate and have a different history. The Pembroke Welsh corgi has a very short tail and is most often found as a pet and companion. The Cardigan Welsh corgi has a longer tail and seems to be quite happy spending his days keeping livestock in line. The corgi was originally used to drive stray cattle off his master's land. Today, the Cardigan Welsh corgi is still used in the herding of livestock, nipping at their heels to get them to move.

German Shorthaired Pointer. The German shorthaired pointer is a popular member of the sporting breed group. This breed has a keen sense of smell as well as intelligence, resulting in an excellent hunting dog. The pointer is used to detect and point at prey. Often used in the hunting of fowl, German shorthaired pointers are also used to hunt rabbits, raccoons and opossums. Even as a pet, the German shorthaired pointer thrives on activity and needs lots of exercise.

Beagle. The beagle is a popular dog, found in many homes throughout the United States. Despite his popularity as a pet, the beagle is also an excellent working dog. As a member of the hound group, the beagle has an excellent nose and is often used in fox hunting. The beagle has also found a place in government work. With his small size and excellent sense of smell, the beagle is often found searching for contraband at airports and border crossings.

German Shepherd. The German shepherd is an elegant and strong dog. A loving member of the family, the German shepherd is also highly prized as a guard dog and protector. The intelligence of the shepherd has led him to be successfully used in police work, search and rescue and as a wonderful guide dog. Despite being a member of the herding breed group, the German shepherd is no longer commonly used to herd livestock but thoroughly enjoys having a job to do.

Golden Retriever. The golden retriever is best known as an excellent companion breed, but their intelligence and patience has led them to be an important working breed. The golden is a member of the sporting breed group and sometimes is used to hunt. The breed is most often trained as a guide and assistance dog as well as a search and rescue breed. The golden loves water and also excels at water rescue and retrieval.

Great Pyrenees. The great Pyrenees is a large white member of the working breed group. Used for centuries to help shepherds protect flocks of sheep, the great Pyrenees is still employed in this capacity. The Pyrenees is also an excellent guard dog and protector and loves spending his days with his beloved livestock.

Newfoundland. The Newfoundland is a large dog with long wavy hair. Most often black in color, the Newfie is considered a gentle giant. The breed performs well in water, especially in water rescues. The Newfie has also been used by fishermen, and used to carry packs and pull carts. As a member of the working breed group, the Newfoundland seems happiest when he has something to do.

Border Collie. As a member of the herding breed group, the border collie seems to be perpetually in motion. With a born instinct to herd, the border collie thrives when he has a flock of sheep to work with. Even without sheep, the border collie will look for anything to herd, including children. This breed is highly intelligent and needs lots of exercise and activity to keep him happy. The border collie is a commonly used dog in Australia and New Zealand to herd their many sheep.

Anatolian Shepherd. The Anatolian shepherd is a recent addition to the American Kennel Club Stud Book. This shepherd, a member of the working breed group, is considered one of the world's best guard dogs. Though the breed can be a loving member of the family, he would rather have a purpose in life, preferably guarding and protecting his family.

St. Bernard. When most people think of the St. Bernard, they think of a big dog with a whiskey barrel attached to his collar. This breed, a member of the working breed group, has long been used in mountain rescues in the Swiss Alps. Even today, the St. Bernard is used to rescue people and it seems that his savior aspect is instinctual.

Brittany. The Brittany is a popular member of the sporting breed group and is a well known hunting dog. Most often used to flush out and hunt birds, this breed is very active and loves nothing better than to accompany his owner in a long day of seeking out game.

English Springer Spaniel. Another popular member of the sporting breed group, the English springer spaniel is an accomplished hunter. This breed thrives on activity and needs lots of exercise to keep him happy. It seems that some English springer spaniels have only one purpose in life – to hunt game.

Belgian Malinois. The Belgian malinois, along with three other types of Belgian sheep-herding dogs, are members of the herding breed group. This breed is an excellent tracking dog and is used in search and rescue as well as police work.

Siberian Husky. The sleek and beautiful appearance of the Siberian Husky makes the breed a popular pet. This breed is also successfully employed as a sled dog and is often the only method of transportation for people living in the extreme northern parts of the world. As a member of the working breed group, the husky that is not used as a sled dog needs a lot of activity and exercise to keep him happy. Huskies tend to enjoy spending time outdoors and, as an arctic breed, love the cold winter weather.

Note: This article describes the typical traits of the breed and is not meant to imply that these dogs should only be used for work and not play.

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