The Working Group

Common Bonds and Diversity
Donna Beckman with her Siberian Husky.


The Working Group

By its very name, AKC’s Working Group is comprised of breeds which certainly (originally and often still) have jobs. These breeds evolved, were created, and/or were selectively bred to perform specific jobs to aid humans. That overarching purpose is what ties these breeds together, yet there is vast diversity within this Group.

Although a diverse Group of breeds in size and appearance, each Working Breed finds commonality with other breeds in the Group. There are dogs which have common ancestors, such as the molossers and the working schnauzers. There are breeds which perform similar work, such as the protection breeds, guardian breeds, transportation breeds, and those that do their best work in water. Some breeds come from similar climates or terrains, carrying the characteristics which make them successful in their native environments.

The commonalities among the Working Breeds are readily apparent when observing those similarly grouped breeds, but it would be a disservice to judge similar Working Breeds in the same way. While the Mastiff and Bullmastiff may appear similar, their Breed Standards call for dogs of significantly different bone and size—to perform different jobs. The Arctic Working Breeds may all have double coats, and some curl to their tails, yet each originated in a different location, performed a different purpose, and required a different conformation. And one would never want to confuse a Komondor with an Anatolian Shepherd Dog, even though they are both great livestock guardians.

The characteristics that allow us to see the similarities among the Working Breeds—jobs, ancestors, physical traits, native areas—must never let us lose sight of the goal of judges: to find the best exhibit, the dog with the best breed type. “Breed Type” is defined as those specific qualities that clearly identify a breed and which make that breed successful at its job. A Giant Schnauzer should not move like a Siberian Husky. A Doberman Pinscher should not have the outline of a Bernese Mountain Dog. Each Working Breed is unique, and when judging Working Breeds, we should remember that the dog’s form must follow its function.

The commonalities among the Working Breeds are readily apparent when observing those similarly grouped breeds, but it would be a disservice to judge similar Working Breeds in the same way.

  • Donna Beckman has been an owner/exhibitor/breeder of Siberian Huskies for over 45 years. She has served the Siberian Husky Club of America, Inc., in many elected and appointed capacities, including as President, Treasurer, Show Chairman, Newsletter Editor, and AKC Delegate. Currently, Donna is SHCA Judges’ Education Chairman. She is the author of a book on the Siberian and is approved by the AKC to judge the Working Group. Donna has judged the SHCA National Specialty twice, as well as having judged and educated fanciers and judges on four continents. She is a longtime officer of the Northern California SHC, and currently serves as Treasurer of the SHCA Trust, which supports the Siberian in the areas of Education, Health, and Rescue.

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