by: Mike Mathews
The Working Dog group includes most of the guard dog breeds such as the Rottweiler and Doberman Pinscher as well as the northern sled dogs such as the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky. Most of these dogs need lots of exercise and a fair amount of living space. Many of these dogs have thick double coats and can be heavy shedders. The heavy shedding breeds include the: Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Great Pyrenees, Newfoundland, Saint Bernard, Samoyed and Siberian Husky. The top 10 most popular Working Dog breeds in the US according to the American Kennel Club 2005 registrations are discussed below and their registration rank is included in brackets.
The Boxer (#7) is a large, strong and muscular dog that is energetic, good-natured and playful. Boxers are very popular because they love children and are a good dog breed for active families with children. Toddlers and young children should be supervised carefully when around young or adolescent dogs that will knock them over when they get excited. This breed needs early socialization and obedience training while they are puppies and exercise while adolescents to control their exuberance. Boxers are alert, intelligent and eager to please and can be trained to a high level for agility sports and obedience competitions. Boxers make good watchdogs and can even be trained to be guard dogs.
The Rottweiler (#16) is a very heavy, muscular and large dog breed. A well-bred Rottweiler is calm, intelligent, confident and courageous but can be aggressive toward strangers and strange dogs. Therefore it is important that this breed be thoroughly socialized and obedience trained starting when it is a puppy and continuing through adolescence. The Rottie needs exercise and mental stimulation and makes a good obedience, agility and schutzhund competitor. Rottweilers are not suited for indoor life and enjoy being outside. A well trained Rottie does fine with older children but this breed should be restricted to people who have the time to thoroughly socialize, obedience train, and keep this dog active.
3. Doberman Pinscher
The Doberman Pinscher (#21) is a strong, muscular and athletic large dog. Dobermans are usually protective but also are sweet and docile family dogs. This intelligent breed needs early socialization and obedience training when it is a puppy and this should be continued through adolescence. Dobermans do fine with older children if they are raised with them. Male Dobes can be very aggressive with other male dogs and shouldn't be trusted with small pets and strange children. Dobermans need lots of exercise and companionship and shouldn't be left alone for long periods of time. This breed should spend a significant amount of time at a dog training school. Dobermans make good guard dogs and good watchdogs.
4. Great Dane
The Great Dane (#24) is a very large and strong dog and is known as the gentle giant of dog breeds. The Dane is gentle, quiet, loyal and affectionate towards its family. This breed would rather lean against you for a pat, than be aggressive towards anyone. The Dane is great with family children but small children must be supervised carefully to avoid knockdown. The Dane is so large that it must be socialized and trained to behave very cautiously around children and pets. Because the Dane is so large early obedience training is essential to prevent it from exerting dominance. Young Danes, up to three years old, can be boisterous and need strict supervision. Danes make excellent watchdogs.
5. Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky (#25) is a very handsome medium to large dog breed that is playful, friendly, athletic and independent. Siberians get along well with older children but are not recommended for toddlers and small children unless raised with them from a puppy. Too many people are attracted to this handsome dog without realizing this is a working sled dog that needs a lot of physical activity. Siberians belong outside in an escape-proof large yard but get bored and destructive if they have too little exercise. Training is quite challenging and must be started when the Sibes are puppies and continued through to adulthood. Siberians don't bark much (although they howl from time to time) and are too friendly to make good watchdogs.
The Mastiff (#33) is a gentle giant dog and one of the heaviest dog breeds. This gentle giant is a great family dog that is calm, dignified, good-natured and very fond of children. Because of its giant size, toddlers are in danger of knock-down, and should always be supervised carefully. Mastiffs need a house with a large fenced yard. This breed needs lots of companionship and should have early and on-going socialization and obedience training so that you can control the Mastiff with only voice commands. This breed is naturally protective of its home and family and must be socialized early and often with other dogs to prevent it from becoming combative. Mastiffs make good watch dogs and guard dogs.
7. Saint Bernard
The massive Saint Bernard (#37) is the most famous of all giant dog breeds and one of the best known of all dog breeds. The Saint is an intelligent, courageous, obedient and good natured dog breed. The breed is very good with children and also other pets but because of their very large size, young children and toddlers should be supervised carefully to avoid any accidents. The Saint is relatively easy to train but must be thoroughly socialized and trained while it is young and hasn't grown too large to handle. The Saint Bernard makes a good watchdog even though it doesn't bark much and is fairly tolerant of strangers.
The Bullmastiff (#42) is a very large dog that is a cross between the Bulldog and the Mastiff dog breeds. The Bullmastiff is loveable and trustworthy but also fearless and afraid of nothing. Normally this breed is mild mannered and docile but once aroused can be aggressive with other male dogs and strangers. Bullmastiffs make great family pets for families with older children but young puppies or adolescents are too exuberant to be around toddlers or small children. Bullmastiff puppies must have early socialization and obedience training that is reinforced through adulthood. This dog breed is too large to allow it to have any unruly behavior and at any sign of aggression get professional training assistance. Bullmastiffs make fantastic watch dogs and great natural guard dogs but should never receive additional guard dog training.
The Newfoundland (#46) or Newf is one of the giant dog breeds whose teddy bear appearance gives an indication of what a wonderful family dog it is. The Newfoundland has a wonderfully sweet and gentle disposition that is reflected in his kind expression. This intelligent, gentle and good-natured giant dog is great with children and makes a terrific family dog. Toddlers should be supervised carefully as one slurp from his big tongue could knock a little one over. Newfs and all giant breeds should be socialized and obedience trained early while puppies and through adolescence. Newfs need lots of companionship and need to be involved in family activities.
10. Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese Mountain Dog (#47) is a very handsome large dog which is outgoing, intelligent and affectionate and makes a terrific family pet. Berners love children but should be supervised with young children because they are large and can knock the toddlers over. Berners should be socialized early with small children and animals when they are puppies. Bernese are intelligent and very trainable and make good dogs for competitive obedience trials. These mountain dogs like to be outside and thrive in cold weather. Berners are fairly tolerant with strangers but still make excellent watch dogs and guard dogs.