Working Dogs: Canines in the Workforce

Therapy dogMost breeds of dogs are the way they are because they were bred to do a specific job. Even a seemingly ornamental a breed like the Bichon Frise was bred for a purpose. Those cute little balls of adorableness have been around prior to the 1300s, when they kept sailors company on long voyages and were also used as currency. Poodles were likewise not bred just for aesthetics, but to retrieve fallen game for hunters. Bullmastiffs were used as guard dogs on estates, intimidating poachers and keeping them detained until law enforcement arrived.

But these days, the classic dog breeds don’t often serve their original purposes. Instead, they have modern jobs. Here are a few examples of the jobs dogs do in our era.

Member of the Armed Forces

Yes, dogs can belong to the military. Canines have served alongside US soldiers in every war in the history of the nation, but were not officially recognized for their efforts until the Second World War.

Dogs are trained to detect drugs, weapons, and bombs. They may also be trained to track and attack military opponents. Currently, there are about 2500 dogs serving in the military, with 700 serving overseas. Labrador Retrievers work well as military dogs, as do German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois. And just like human soldiers, dogs can get PTSD after traumatic experiences.

Guide dogs

Thousands of pups are employed as guide dogs. Canines were first used to help blind or injured people after the First World War, when many soldiers returned home with physical disabilities.

Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds are commonly used as guide dogs.

Therapy dogs

Have you ever come home in a bad mood only to have your puppy dog turn it all around? This is a common phenomenon, so common that many dogs are employed as therapy dogs. They may be taken to hospitals, nursing homes, classrooms, or anywhere else where people might appreciate some warm fuzzy friends.

Dog actors

Some dogs are employed in Hollywood. But acting doesn’t come naturally to them – they go through rigorous training to become actors.

Sled dogs

The hardiest breeds, with thick coats to withstand cold and snow and ice, may work as sled dogs. It takes discipline, teamwork and lots of training for a team of dogs to pull a sled over long distances in harsh conditions. And sled dogs don’t just exist for fun. Sure, there are competitive races they participate in, but for some remote communities, sled dogs provide a vital mode of transportation.