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Working Dog Breeds

Working dogs are strong and sturdy, and willing to help out when needed. They were bred to serve a number of purposes: guard flocks, pull loads, rescue people, patrol property, etc. and many of them still serve these functions. While these dogs can carry out a number of useful tasks, they are also content to lie on the back porch until needed. Most working breeds are large to giant-sized.

Akita
Size: Large, female 24-26”, 75-95 lbs, male 26-28”, 85-115 lbs.
Color: Any
Protection level: Brave, natural protective instinct
Energy level: Medium
Life expectancy: 10-12 years
Good with children: Yes, but can be overprotective if children’s playmates play too rough
Performance abilities: Obedience, weight pulling, backpacking, tracking
Shedding: Yes, seasonal to year-round
Grooming: Brush once a week with a pin brush or grooming rake
Potential health concerns: HD, hypothyroidism, patellar luxation, lupus, cancer, pemphigus, SA, bloat, vWD, PRA
Recommended health clearances: OFA, CERF, vWD, skin punch for SA
Best with: Obedience training, experienced dog owners, human contact, fenced yard (6 ft tall)
Not for: Fragile people, attack training, ego boost

Alaskan Malamute
Size: Large, female 23”, 75 lbs, male 25”, 85 lbs.
Color: Light gray to black, sable, or red with white markings, also all white; always has brown eyes
Protection level: Low, although will protect food and territory against other animals
Energy level: Low to medium
Life expectancy: 10-12 years
Good with children: Some are.
Performance abilities: Weight pulling, sledding, backpacking, carting
Shedding: Seasonal, heavy
Grooming: Brush once a week
Potential health concerns: HD, cataracts, bloat, hypothyroidism, chondrodysplasia, bleeding disorders, PDA, renal cortical hypoplasia
Recommended health clearances: Chd, OFA, CERF
Best with: Fenced yards, regular exercise, protection from heat
Not for: People who are easily intimidated, people who can’t or don’t want to control a strong dog

Anatolian Shepherd Dog
Size: Giant, female 28-31”, 88-121 lbs, male 29-32”, 110-143 lbs.
Color: Brindle, fawn, tricolor, white and black mask
Protection level: High
Energy level: Low, except when it perceives a threat
Life expectancy: 10-15 years
Good with children: Generally, but can be overprotective
Performance abilities: Obedience, weight pulling
Shedding: Season, heavy
Grooming: Regular brushing
Potential health concerns: HD, hypothyroidism, entropion
Recommended health clearances: OFA hips and elbows
Best with: High fenced yards, training, a task, early socialization
Not for: Obedience trainers, submissive or frail people, gardeners, off-leash walks

Bernese Mountain Dog
Size: Large, female 23-26”, male 25-27.5”, 75-120 lbs.
Color: Tricolor (black with white and rust markings)
Protection level: Low, will bark
Energy level: Low to medium
Life expectancy: 8-10 years
Good with children: Yes; size a bit much for young kids
Performance abilities: Agility, obedience, tracking and draft
Shedding: Twice a year, heavy
Grooming: Brush to remove dead hair
Potential health concerns: HD and elbow dysplasia, glomerulonephritis, mast cell tumors, bloat, histiocytosis, thyroid, OCD, PRA
Recommended health clearances: OFA hips and elbows, CERF
Best with: Easygoing people, including the dog in most activities
Not for: Isolation, allergy sufferers, neat freaks

Boxer
Size: Medium to large, female 21-23.5”, 50-65 lbs, male 22.5-25”, 65-80 lbs.
Color: Brindle or fawn, usually with white
Protection level: Deep bark, size and looks a good deterrent
Energy level: High, but not hyper, calms down with age
Life expectancy: 8-12 years
Good with children: Excellent, protective, might be too energetic for toddlers
Performance abilities: Agility, obedience, therapy
Shedding: Seasonal
Grooming: Minimal
Potential health concerns: HD, colitis, PRA, SAS, hypothyroidism, cardiomyopathy, mast cell and other cancerous tumors
Recommended health clearances: OFA, CERF
Best with: Regular exercise, human contact
Not for: Frail people, people who want docile pets, people without a lot of time to spend with their dog, extreme heat and cold

Giant Schnauzer
Size: Large, female 23.5-25.5”, 65-80 lbs, male 25.5-27.5”, 80-95 lbs.
Color: Black or pepper and salt
Protection level: High, take its job very seriously
Energy level: Medium to high
Life expectancy: 10-12 years
Good with children: Yes, patient with their own, can be overprotective
Performance abilities: Agility, obedience, tracking, search and rescue, service fields, herding
Shedding: Minimal
Grooming: Frequent brushing, stripping undercoat seasonally
Potential health concerns: HD, epilepsy, PRA, heart defects, glaucoma, OCD
Recommended health clearances: OFA, CERF
Best with: Regular exercise, obedience training, fenced yard, time commitment, confident, firm owners
Not for: People who want quiet, docile pets, lazy groomers, first-time dog owners

Great Dane
Size: Giant, female 32-34”, 100-135 lbs, male 34-38”, 145-185 lbs.
Color: Brindle, blue, black, fawn, mantle, harlequin (white with black patches)
Protection level: Medium, but size and bark a deterrent
Energy level: Medium
Life expectancy: 8 years
Good with children: Yes, when raised with them; size a bit much for young kids
Performance abilities: Obedience, tracking, agility, therapy
Shedding: Year-round, heavier seasonally
Grooming: Brush regularly
Potential health concerns: HD, enlarged heart, bloat, wobblers, deafness, bone cancer, cataracts, HOD
Recommended health clearances: OFA, CERF
Best with: Fenced yards, room for exercise, early socialization
Not for: Timid people, small children, puppy growth foods, isolation

Great Pyrenees
Size: Giant, female 25-29”, 100-135 lbs, male 27-32”
Color: White, may have a gray badger, tan or reddish brown markings, especially on the head
Protection level: High, barking may disturb neighbors
Energy level: Low to medium
Life expectancy: 10-12 years
Good with children: Yes, protective; size a bit much for young kids
Performance abilities: Backpacking, livestock guarding, carting
Shedding: Undercoat sheds profusely
Grooming: Brush once a week, comb or rake dead undercoat, trim eyebrows regularly to keep hair out of eyes
Potential health concerns: HD and elbow dysplasia, cataracts, entropion, patellar luxation, spinal problems, bleeding disorders
Recommended health clearances: OFA hips and elbows, vWD, CERF
Best with: Early training, consistent lifestyle, kind firmness, confinement
Not for: Small apartments or yards, tying or chaining, submissive or frail owners, obedience enthusiasts

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Size: Giant, female 23.5-27”, male 25.5-28”
Color: White, black, and rust
Protection level: Protective of home turf
Energy level: Medium
Life expectancy: 10-12 years
Good with children: Yes, but may knock over toddlers
Performance abilities: Agility, draft work, weight pulling, obedience
Shedding: Seasonal
Grooming: Minimal, brush remove dead hair and keep coat shiny
Potential health concerns: HD, bloat and torsion, splenic torsion, dilated esophagus, OCD
Recommended health clearances: OFA hips, shoulders and elbows, CERF
Best with: Room to exercise, family life
Not for: Frail owners, jumping, backyard life, small confined areas

Komondor
Size: Large, female 25.5+”, 80+lbs, male 25.5-28”, 100+lbs
Color: White
Protection level: High
Energy level: Calm house pets
Life expectancy: 12 years
Good with children: Yes, with their own family, but can be overprotective
Performance abilities: Livestock guarding
Shedding: No, but gets tangles in cords, often good for hypoallergenic people
Grooming: Time-consuming
Potential health concerns: HD, bloat, cataracts, entropion
Recommended health clearances: OFA, CERF
Best with: Socialization, obedience training, fenced yards, firm but fair handling
Not for: Lazy groomers, submissive people

Kuvasz
Size: Giant, female 26-28”, 70-90 lbs, male 28-30”, 100-115 lbs
Color: White
Protection level: High
Energy level: Moderate
Life expectancy: 10-12 years
Good with children: Yes, if raised with them; can be protective
Performance abilities: Tracking, flock guarding, obedience
Shedding: Year-round with heavier seasonal shedding
Grooming: Brush once a week
Potential health concerns: HD and elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, torsion, OCD
Recommended health clearances: OFA hips and elbows
Best with: Fenced yards, early and continuing socialization and obedience, motivational training methods, confident owners
Not for: Neat freaks, open-door policy homes, inactive people, small apartments, novice owners

Mastiff
Size: Giant, female 120-165 lbs, male 165-225 lbs
Color: Apricot, brindle, fawn
Protection level: Not a barker, size and appearance a deterrent, some lines more aggressive
Energy level: Low
Life expectancy: 5-10 years
Good with children: Some lines better than others; socialize
Performance abilities: Therapy, obedience, weight pulling, tracking
Shedding: Year-round, but not excessive
Grooming: Use a shedding blade to remove dead hair
Potential health concerns: HD and elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, strokes, eye defects, bloat, spondylosis, cardiomyopathy, OCD, HOD, patellar luxation, hypothyroidism
Recommended health clearances: OFA hips and elbows, vWD, CERF
Best with: Financial resources for vet care and food, a large vehicle, careful purchase
Not for: Neat freaks, small apartments, lazy trainers, kennels

Newfoundland
Size: Giant, 28-32”, male 120-150 lbs
Color: Black, bronze and black and white
Protection level: Medium, has a deep bark, size a deterrent
Energy level: Low to medium at maturity
Life expectancy: 10 years
Good with children: Prefers children to adults
Performance abilities: Therapy, obedience, tracking, freestyle
Shedding: Heavy
Grooming: Comb and brush once a week with a slicker brush, more frequently in summer
Potential health concerns: HD, bloat, OCD, SAS, hypothyroidism, ectropion, entropion
Recommended health clearances: OFA and heart clearance
Best with: Regular exercise, kids, manners
Not for: Neat freaks, apartments, extremely high temperatures

Portuguese Water Dog
Size: Medium, female 17-21”, 34-50 lbs, male 19-23”, 42-60 lbs
Color: Brown, black, white, and particolor
Protection level: Medium to high
Energy level: High
Life expectancy: 10-14 years
Good with children: Prefers children to adults
Performance abilities: Therapy, obedience, tracking, freestyle
Shedding: Heavy
Grooming: Comb and brush once a week with a slicker brush, more frequently in summer
Potential health concerns: HD, bloat, OCD, SAS, hypothyroidism, ectropion, entropion
Recommended health clearances: OFA and heart clearance
Best with: Regular exercise, kids, manners
Not for: Neat freaks, apartments, extremely high temperatures

Rottweiler
Size: Large, female 22-25”, 80-100 lbs, male 24-27”, 95-135 lbs
Color: Black with rust to mahogany markings
Protection level: Very high
Energy level: Medium
Life expectancy: 8-9 years
Good with children: Depends on the dog; size a bit much for young kids
Performance abilities: Carting, service fields, freestyle, herding, weight pulling, tracking, obedience
Shedding: Year-round
Grooming: Minimal; brush to remove dead hair
Potential health concerns: HD and elbow dysplasia, bloat, OCD, PRA and other retinal problems, hypothyroidism, cancer
Recommended health clearances: OFA hips and elbows, heart exam, CERF
Best with: Fenced yards, confident owners, firm, fair, consistent discipline
Not for: Status symbol, frail people, first-time dog owners, submissive people, chaining or tying

Saint Bernard
Size: Giant, female 25-30”, male 27-34”
Color: Red and white
Protection level: High, size and bark a deterrent
Energy level: Low to medium, short bursts of energy especially as puppies
Life expectancy: 8 years
Good with children: Socialize early; check bloodlines
Performance abilities: Weight pulling, search and rescue, draft work
Shedding: Seasonal
Grooming: Brush once a week, more often during seasonal shedding; longhaired needs a bit more
Potential health concerns: HD, bloat, OCD, heart problems, epilepsy, hypothyroidism, ectropion, entropion
Recommended health clearances: OFA
Best with: Cool environment, strong, confident owners
Not for: Frail people, the elderly, neat freaks, submissive people

Samoyed
Size: Medium, female 19-21”, 38-50 lbs, male 21-24”, 50-65 lbs
Color: White (some have cream or biscuit-colored spots)
Protection level: None; will bark, but loves everyone
Energy level: Medium
Life expectancy: 12-15 years
Good with children: Excellent, especially when raised with them
Performance abilities: Backpacking, dog sledding, hiking
Shedding: Seasonal for females, once a year for males
Grooming: Brushing (though less often than you might think), trim feet and groin area
Potential health concerns: HD, diabetes, cataracts, hypothyroidism, PRA
Recommended health clearances: OFA, CERF
Best with: Daily exercise, fenced yards, patience, cold-weather sports, family interaction
Not for: Backyard life, controlling people, warm, humid climates, frail people

Siberian Husky
Size: Medium, female 20-21”, male 21-23.5”
Color: All colors, usually has white markings and parti-colored eyes
Protection level: Will bark
Energy level: Medium-high
Life expectancy: 12-14 years
Good with children: Yes
Performance abilities: Backpacking, dog sledding, hiking
Shedding: Seasonal, heavy
Grooming: Brush often, comb during seasonal shedding
Potential health concerns: HD, glaucoma, cataracts, PRA, corneal dystrophy
Recommended health clearances: OFA, CERF (or Siberian Husky Ophalmic Registry – SHOR)
Best with: Fenced yard, outdoorsy people, firm owners
Not for: Isolation, off-leash walks, protection

Standard Schnauzer
Size: Medium, female 17.5-18.5”, male 18.5-19.5”
Color: Black or pepper and salt
Protection level: High, will stand its ground but not aggressive
Energy level: High
Life expectancy: 12-14 years
Good with children: Yes
Performance abilities: Agility, search and rescue, tracking, obedience
Shedding: Minimal when properly groomed
Grooming: Brush regularly; handstrip and trim
Potential health concerns: HD, cancer, cataracts, hypothyroidism
Recommended health clearances: OFA, CERF
Best with: Plenty of exercise, fenced yard, training, socialization, active, confident owners
Not for: Submissive people, lazy groomers, fireside companion

 

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