The American Kennel Club has seven groups that it uses to categorize dog breeds based on their various characteristics. Breeds in the working and herding dogs group each perform jobs, but there are differences in their temperaments as well.
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About the working group
Dogs in the working group were bred to perform jobs for humans. This includes a wide range of jobs, such as guarding, water rescue, and pulling sleds and carts. There are no small breeds in this group; working breeds range from medium to giant in size.
One of the smallest breeds is the German pinscher, who grows 17 to 20 inches tall and weighs 25 to 45 pounds. There are many giant breeds in the group, including the Great Dane, who grows 28 to 32 inches tall and weighs 110 to 175 pounds, and the mastiff, who grows more than 27.5 inches tall and weighs up to 230 pounds.
While breed is not a reliable indicator of temperament, dog breeds in the working group tend to be alert, protective, and watchful. They are physically strong to fulfill their role and tend to be quite intelligent. There are two breeds listed in the top 10 of Stanley Coren's list of the smartest dogs, including the Doberman pinscher and the Rottweiler.
Working dog breeds
There are many well-known breeds in the working group, including the boxer, Great Dane, mastiff, and Rottweiler. There are also some lesser-known breeds in the group, including the boerboel, black Russian terrier, Chinook, Tibetan mastiff, and the komondor.
Working dog considerations
Dogs from the working group need training and socialization to be good canine citizens and family members. They may not be the best choice for inexperienced dog owners, and you shouldn't hesitate to contact a professional trainer if you need help working with these dogs.
In order to stay mentally healthy and happy, these dogs need a job. It doesn't need to be the traditional job for which they were bred if that isn't feasible. Consider activities such as agility, pulling a cart, training tricks, and scent games.
About the herding group
The herding group has many similarities to the working group. In fact, these breeds were included in the working group until 1983 when they were separated into the herding group. As the name implies, these dogs were bred to herd and move other animals, such as cattle and sheep.
Dogs in the herding group tend to be smaller when compared to the working group. Breeds in the herding group range in size from small to large. Two of the smallest members of the group include the Pembroke Welsh corgi, who only grows 10 to 12 inches tall and weighs up to 30 pounds, and the Shetland sheepdog, who grows 13 to 16 inches tall and weighs 15 to 25 pounds. Two of the larger breeds include the bouvier des Flandres and the Beauceron. Both breeds grow up to 27.5 inches tall and weigh 110 pounds.
Herding dogs are quite intelligent, and there are several members of the group in the top 10 on the list of smartest dogs, including the border collie, German shepherd, Shetland sheepdog, and Australian cattle dog. Herding dogs tend to have a high energy level and strong herding instinct.
Herding dog breeds
Some well-known types of herding dogs include the German shepherd, corgi, border collie, Belgian Malinois, Australian shepherd, and old English sheepdog. There are also a number of less well-known breeds in this group to consider, including the puli, mudi, Bergamasco sheepdog, Norwegian buhund, Icelandic sheepdog, and Swedish vallhund.
Herding dog considerations
Due to their high intelligence, herding dogs are very trainable and can be a joy to work with. However, they do have a lot of energy, which means they need a lot of exercise to burn off that energy in a constructive manner. If you have other pets or small children, keep in mind that the herding instinct may cause these dogs to attempt to herd the smaller members of the family.
- American Kennel Club: The 7 AKC Dog Breed Groups Explained
- American Kennel Club: Working Group
- Stanley Coren: Top 10 Smartest Dog Breeds – Most Intelligent Dog In 2021
- iHeartDogs: 10 Jobs For Working Breed Dogs Even If You Don’t Live On A Farm
- American Kennel Club: Great Dane
- American Kennel Club: Mastiff
- American Kennel Club: Herding Group
- American Kennel Club: Bouvier des Flandres
- American Kennel Club: Beauceron
- American Kennel Club: Pembroke Welsh Corgi
- American Kennel Club: Shetland Sheepdog