The Working Group – Working Class Wonders

Working Dogs Get the Job Done!
A working group of dogs showcased in a ring at a dog show.


The Working Group – Working Class Wonders

When it comes to getting the big jobs done, there’s no more capable partner than each of the breeds in the Working Group. Heavy lifting? The Alaskan Malamute can do the job. Long hauling? The Siberian Husky has things covered. Protect and Serve? The Black Russian Terrier doesn’t hesitate. Water work? The Newfoundland to the rescue! If there’s a job description that requires both brain and brawn, the 31 recognized breeds of the Working Group are definitely top candidates.

Hailing from five continents and fifteen countries (including geographic regions with historically fluctuating borders and national identities), many of the Working Breeds have proven themselves to be reliable workmates for millennia. From the top of the world, the Tibetan Mastiff descended ages ago to lend its substance and solemnity to today’s “modern” Molossers. England has its Mastiff (and Bullmastiff), France has its Dogue de Bordeaux, and Italy has both its Cane Corso and Neapolitan Mastiff.

Other breeds in this Group utilize patience and devotion as part of their life’s work and are known collectively as livestock guardian dogs or LGDs. Turkey’s Anatolian Shepherd Dog and the Komondor and Kuvasz of Hungary work without equal as guardians of their flocks—bovine, ovine, and human alike. Still other breeds might be considered the “movers and shakers” of the dog world. Germany’s Rottweiler and Switzerland’s Bernese Mountain Dog can cart, haul, and even herd with the best of breeds.

A working group of dogs showcased in a ring at a dog show.
The Working Breeds, like their show ring handlers, never quit and always know how to get the job done.  Photo by Dan Sayers

Of course, not all Working Breeds originated on the European continent. Many of the Group’s finest examples were developed in places further afield, making their mark with resumes that are no less impressive than those of their Contintental counterparts. In the United States, the Chinook was developed as a unique sled dog but is better known today as the official state dog of New Hampshire. In South America, the Dogo Argentino arose specifically as a big-game hunter and is used as such on peccary and puma. The Boerboel of South Africa offers protection from hyenas and other predators on remote homesteads, and on Japan’s island of Honshu, the Akita originally worked as a tracker of bear and boar, and is today considered a national monument.

With such varied work histories, is it any wonder that the breeds of the Working Group continue to astonish us with their capacity to serve? As a collective, they are the heavy-hitters of the purebred dog world and no challenge seems too great for them. These breeds never say never, from the Great Pyrenees which stands watch night and day to the show ring full of Boxers with energy to spare. No matter where on the globe they originated, the unwavering loyalty and devotion of the Working Breeds defines who they are and what they do as workmates, partners, and trusted friends.

  • Dan Sayers covers the sport of dogs with a particular interest in purebred dog history and breed preservation. His articles feature notable icons of the past as well as individuals who work tirelessly to promote purebred dogs today. A self-taught artist, Dan’s work is represented in collections worldwide and his illustrations appear in the award-winning Encyclopedia of K-9 Terminology by Ed and Pat Gilbert. Since 1981, Dan has been an exhibitor of several Sporting and Hound breeds. He’s bred Irish Water Spaniels under the Quiet Storm prefix and judged Sweepstakes at the parent club’s National Specialty twice. Dan is a member of the Irish Water Spaniel Club of America and the Morris and Essex Kennel Club.

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