Choosing A Working Dog Breed

Everyone must decide for themselves the best breed for them and or their families. Do your homework. Read Books on the Breeds you are thinking about. Join eLists and Forums set up specifically for the breeds you are interested in. Ask people that own the breeds of dog you are thinking of owning.

If you want a dog to pull you in a cart or wagon, don't buy a small dog. For Backpacking, buy a large dog from the breeds with good feet, or be prepared to booty the dog up each trip. If you live in a hot environment and want to have a dog that pulls you on a scooter in the Spring through Fall, buy a shorter haired breed...and water it a lot.

Yes. Breed Matters in Working Dogs.

For instance, a Siberian Husky can make a wonderful and fast sled dog, but it is NOT the breed you want for herding sheep or geese. Cocker Spaniels make nice Backpacking dogs, If you only need a few things brought along on your trips.

Please do not buy a dog on a "whim". That means....No impulse buying. If you see a puppy for sale, even if you love the breed, if you have not been "shopping" for that breed or even a puppy at all....STOP!, Do not buy that dog that day. This includes a dog called a "Rescue" in a Pet Store with a Sad Story. Go home, think on it, sleep on it, read up on it. DO NOT BUY ON IMPULSE!

If you have decided what breed and why you want a dog breed, don't be distracted or in a hurry. Just because a "Rescue", so you have been told, NEEDS a home, does not mean you should take it to your home. Get the dog/breed you want. If you are looking for a Working Dog (or even not), don't let someone else, or a Sad Story, distract you.

I have seen faaaaar to many people disappointed with a dog they really do not want. It will not be a Working Dog for them, it is not the breed they were looking for. PLEASE think it out before you take home any dog.

What Is A Working Class Dog?

The American Kennel Club, as well as other breed clubs, classify each breed into a category or Group, such as Working Breeds.

AKC Working Dog Breed List

Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Anatolian Shepherd Dog, Bernese Mountain Dog, Black Russian Terrier, Boxer, Bullmastiff, Cane Corso, Chinook, Doberman Pincher, Dogue de Bordeaux, German Pincher, Giant Schnauzer, Great Dane, Great Pyrenees, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Komondor, Kuvazs, Leonberger, Mastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff, Newfoundland, Portuguese Water Dog, Rottweiler, Saint Bernard, Samoyed, Siberian Husky, Standard Schnauzer, and Tibetan Mastiff.

However, in the AKC Groups or Classes of dogs, there are also Classes for different types of jobs that dogs have such as Herding, Sporting (hunting), and Terrier, Hounds and as I said in the last paragraph before this one, Working Group.

These are dogs that were developed by breeding and inbreeding and line breeding to design a dog for a purpose of working. Each breed developed for the work they were designed to perform.

Can A Dog Have More Than One Job?

Yes. Many dogs have several jobs...such as their main job might be Herding, but they also Pull A Wagon with children or groceries in it. They might Backpack too. This same dog might also visit Nursing Homes and hospitals. And if someone were missing in their area, they might even be called in for Search and Rescue. It all comes back to, as it always will, the training the owner has taken the time to put into the dog. The more you put into your dog the more you will get out of it.

What To Look For When Looking At A Dog That Will Have A Job

Most people that are buying a dog or puppy know to look for Bright Eyes, White Teeth with a Correct Bite. They know to look at the dog's coat, is it healthy?, does it have bugs within?. I will add that if you do not know the basics you are looking for refer back to that Breed Book you bought for research, it is in there.

But not too many folks know what to look for in a Working Dog. What breed or mix of breeds are you looking at? Yes. There is a difference. Know the slope of the shoulders and hips for the Standard Of The Breed, that is found in all the breed books or on line for the breed(s) you are looking at. If nothing else, get older books on the breed of the dog you want to own and study, I mean really look at, and look at often, the photos of the dog within. Many of the books that are from 1980 and older have drawings of what the dog should look like, as far as conformation, and what it should not. Study those photos. BUT KNOW THIS, THERE ARE NO PERFECT DOGS. You will not find a dog that has it all. But what you are looking for is parents of the puppies, or the dog, that is very close to that Standard Of The Breed.

Most working dogs you will purchase come from working lines, it is how the breed was developed. Working Breeds were fine tuned (if you will) for what it took/takes for that particular dog to work best in the field or on the team or as an individual doing a job. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT THE DOG TO DO, AND LOOK FOR THE BREED OF DOG THAT WAS BRED FOR THAT JOB (there are usually several breeds that were bred for the basic same jobs). KNOW THE STANDARD OF THE BREED BEFORE YOU EVER START LOOKING FOR YOUR NEW DOG OR PUPPY.

I buy, and tell folks looking for puppies or dogs, to buy many books on that particular breed and study them. Not only will it help you find the right dog for the job you want it to do, it will prepare you for the dog's type, the average temperaments of the breed, the size, the intelligences... I find that the people that do their homework on the dog type/breed they are looking for, are the people that have that dog for life. They knew what they were looking for, getting into with that particular breed, what to expect. Many people, that do not do their homework, see a cute puppy and that poor puppy only has a home for a few months. Worse, these are the same people that heard of a dog with a "sad story" and took it in, only to find....they were in far over their heads.


Visiting The Breeder Etiquette

As a Breeder and knowing others that breed dogs and other animals, I have seen so many rude things go on by potential buyers, I thought I must add a section on Etiquette for when visiting a person's home or kennel looking at their puppies or other animals for sale.

It is not that Breeder's are Hiding anything. They are not in a Hurry To Make a Buck. But we do have lives, rich and full, and having puppies is a LOT of work that needs to be done quite often, such as feeding, picking up after, playing with, and many times, Breeders are working with the puppies to start their training. They do not have time for long visits from people, people they do not know, just so those people can come and "see the puppies", many times, not interested in buying a puppy at all.

Case in point. Years ago Deron and I had Siberian Husky puppies for sale. We took out an ad and a guy called. We set up an appointment and waited, and waited, and waited. Here comes this guy, who stayed for 2 1/2 hours playing with our puppies, asking questions, telling allllll about dogs he had had in his life. Finally, when I told him we had to get back to work (we work at home), he told us he had only come out because he said he would. (WHAT!?) He actually decided not to buy a puppy but had told us he would come and look, so he did. What a misguided person. He thought he was "doing the right thing". All he did was hold us up from doing our own work, not just while he was there, but while he was an hour late coming from the appointed time. THEN he held us up another 2 1/2 hours chatting....and never once did he mention before that time he was not interested in a puppy. That is just ONE example of things people do and think nothing of it.

Another is the folks that "bring the kids out to see the puppies". That is they call an ad in the paper for something to do. They load up the kids and take them "to see the puppies". Never once do they think about the people selling the dogs, or the dogs themselves. Not only that, but they never think that they are taking up time that someone else could be using to actually buy a dog.

First of all, Breeders Homes/Kennels, are NOT Open Stores or Places of Business where you can just come and go any time and stay and play. You are taking up their time. This is not a store to browse in, to go just to play with puppies, to stay and just ask, over an hours worth of questions just to ask, it is not a place to go and talk about your "old dog" for hours. Asking questions and talking about your old dog are fine, but in excess, and especially when you are not buying a dog, is rude. And above all, the Breeder's Home or Kennel it is CERTAINLY not a place to take your child for the afternoon, just for the fun of the child. You only, go to see puppies and only if you are truly interested IN BUYING.

When the visit is scheduled, be on time. Call if something comes up, or if you change your mind and or can not make the time or date. Reschedule if you need to. But do not let the Breeders just wait for you. They too have lives.

Again. Please do not take your children with you to look at puppies. Children do not need to approve the pup, they will love it, you know that is true. No. You should not leave your child in the vehicle at the Breeder's Home or Kennel either. Leave your children at home. You will want the Breeders Undivided Attention and the Breeder will also want your Undivided Attention. If your child is picking up puppies and dropping them, this is not going to "endear" you to the Breeder. If your child is interrupting the conversation, you might miss information you later need. And yes. This does mean your children, not just "other people's" children.

Your breeder is going to need to know, or might want to know, your experience and training abilities raising puppies dogs. The breeder is not trying to "get in your business" nor being noisy. The breeder is trying to know how to help you raise a puppy you might take home. They don't want to stand and tell you things you already know, but on the other hand, there is much information the breeder can give you about the breed and training it.

Listen to what the Breeder has to say to you about the breed of dog and the puppies they bred and raise. Amazingly they probably know a lot about them. <duh!>

Take the time you need to choose or not choose a puppy, but do not hold the Breeder up for hours. Before you ever make the appointment with the Breeder to look at the puppies, you should have an idea of what you want to own in that breed of dog. Before you arrive, after reading and looking at photos, in breed books, of good animals in that/that represent the breed, you will or should be able to decide if you like the parents of the puppies as soon as you see them. Now? Which puppy? That might take some time, all Good Breeder's, Dog People, understand that. Taking hours on end. No. If you can not decide, take photos of the puppies and go home to sleep on it. But if those puppies sell while you are gone, they are gone, not the Breeders fault. ANOTHER WORDS, I AM TELLING YOU AGAIN, TO KNOW WHAT YOU WANT BEFORE YOU ARRIVE. Taking your time to decide what puppy you will choose to own for the next 15 years is fine and appreciated by most Good Breeders. Taking your time to decide IF you want a puppy is not. That should be decided long before contacting a Breeder about their puppies. Go home and think about it. Take a drive. Go get a snack at a Fast Food place and think about it. Don't just hold up the Person selling the dogs for hours only to say, "Oh I can not decide. I just don't know what to do." If this is where you are, in your own mind, when you have looked at the puppies for a while, watched them, looked at the parents, you are not ready to buy your puppy.

Take all the time you need, as long as it is no longer than, say, 1 1/2 hours, and that is pushing it. Just remember to treat people the way you would want to be treated if this same person came to your house to look at puppies you had for sale.

You might find that you have much in common with the breeder of the dogs. You might find you have just met a friend for life, or even your spouse. But don't push it. No. You can not ride their horses. No. You are not there for a tour of the farm (but some people ARE happy to give you one, we love to show off our animals), or a tour of their home, but that is if a tour is not offered, don't ask.

much more to come

Taking Your Working Dog Home

The minute you load your new puppy or dog into your vehicle for the ride home, start treating it/training it as you want it to become. In other words, do not let the puppy ride in your lap as you drive now and want it to ride in a Large Crate in the back when it is older. Whatever you do now, is what the dog will expect. If the dog will ride in a crate in the back, take a crate with you when you go and look at puppies. When you load the puppy for the first time, give the command you will use for the dog to load, such as, "Load." or "Take your place", or whatever command you will use.

When you get the puppy or dog out at home, use the command you will use for the dog to come out of the vehicle....and have one. That is the safest thing you can do. This way, if there is a loose dog, another vehicle coming, a person with a small child, whatever you might not want your dog in the middle of the moment it exits the vehicle, wait til safe and give the command.

Take your dog/puppy home. Do not do a tour to show it off. Give it a chance to get used to you and all these new things going on in it's life. Remember, all it knew before you was one home, it's dog mother, it's siblings, and the home it lived in. You will also want your puppy to have all of it's vaccinations before taking it out around other dogs, and places where other dogs have been.

When you get the dog/puppy home, have it go potty before taking it in the house. Don't overwhelm the new dog with too many visitors. Start training right away.

The next morning, or later that day, fill out your paper work for registration or other papers the breeder might have given you. Start a folder or large envelope for this dog with it's name on the front and keep all of the dog's information and health records and training information in it. Place this folder with our other business papers, such as house papers, insurance papers, and such. Not only is this a good practice for you, and you will know where all the dog's papers are, if something were to happen to you, this could mean the difference of your dog getting another good home, or it being "dumped" because your family did not know anything about the dog other than what you had told them verbally.

How To Raise Your Working Dog

When you get the puppy home, and especially a large breed that will be a working dog, do not spoil it. If the dog will not be allowed on the couch when it is full grown or when it is muddy (dogs do not know the difference between clean and dirty) DO NOT LET IT ON THE COUCH AS A PUPPY! If the dog will not be allowed to jump on people when it is full grown, do NOT allow the puppy to do so from the start.

Start training your puppy right away. Yes. Puppies that are 6, 7, 8 weeks old, CAN & DO learn to "sit" on command. Teach your puppy to sit when you feed it or give it a treat. Teach you puppy to walk on a leash right away. Some hate it, some are like a fish out of water the first few times. But if taught correctly, your puppy will walk on a leash, even the first time out, as if it has done this a million times before.

Every action you want your dog to do or become as a dog, starts the minute you load it into your vehicle. Don't spoil the puppy and get angry with it when it is about 4 - 6 months old because it is big and clumsy and rude.

Buy and book on training, read on line, start your puppies manner training right away.

By starting right away and being consistent with your dogs training, you are raising a dog you can be very proud of. You are raising a dog your family and friends will be happy to be around and perhaps envious of. And once this well behaved pup is a bit older, all the work you are hoping this dog will perform, you are most of the way teaching it. The hard part of training a working dog, is that basic training. Once it learns to learn, once it learns to please you, all else goes quickly and easier as far as training. Just don't get in a hurry to get to that point.

How To Train Your Working Dogs

Start the minute you pay for the puppy. Everything you expect from your dog, teach it as a puppy or dog as soon as you own it. Reread the above paragraph on How To Raising Your Working Dog. It is not Rocket Science, but you must be consistent, fair, consistent, loving, consistent, know what you want the dog to do and how to act and teach/train the dog to get it to those expectations, and be consistent.

Puppy Classes and Basic Obedient classes are not just to teach the dog to "sit" and "heal.". Obedience Classes are a great place for someone else to see the mistakes you are making with your dog, a great place to learn how to teach your dog, a great place for your dog to learn to behave in public, a wonderful place for your dog to learn to learn, the best place for your dog to learn to work around other dogs, a place where your dog learns you are the boss and to focus on you. From there you can take more classes or just get your dog out and about and around people and other dogs. And or start working your dog toward the job it will have.


If you have a Training Book on the type of training you would like to put into your dog, reread it, yes, even if you have trained many dogs to do this same job. If you do not have a book on training the dog to do the work you would like for it to perform, buy a few. On line reading is fine, but you have to be at your computer to do that. Having that book here and there, like taking it with you in your vehicle and reading it when you get them time, better.

Read, read, talk to people that have and are training their working dogs to do the same type work you would like for your dog to do. Join elists and forums. Learn, learn, lean. You have to learn before you can train or teach your dog.

Obedience Training is the basis for all dog's. All dogs. Pets, or working dogs, they all need that basic training. Further, that basic training teaches your dog to learn. Once they learn to learn, they catch on quicker to what you want them to do.

Many people "send their dogs out for training". And that is great. Just make sure you schedule time to learn how to work your own dog when it gets home. Spend the time, take notes, listen to what the Trainer is telling you. If you do not learn what the dog has learned, if you do not use the correct commands, all that money and your dog's time away, was for nothing. You will be very frustrated.

much more coming soon

What Is A Backyard Breeder?

Some how, some where, about the 80's, the people that only bred their dogs now and again got a bad name. How? Well, where to start on that one. <smiles>

It is a shame, but there are some people breed their dogs just because they "have papers" and the owner's want money. The problem is, good people with good dogs became known as "bad guys" in the loop of the terms "Backyard Breeders".

Not all people that own a nice pure bred dog to another person's nice pure bred dog is a bad person. Many, many, many good dogs, working dogs, family pets, dogs that have saved human lives, were bred this way. Many times, folks like me, that own good working dogs, breed them because they want more good dogs, working dogs, out of that line and sell the other good puppies from the litter. Many times other people that want dogs from the person with the good dogs are the people that encourage the breedings.

All this "Political Correctness" has done damage to the, in the, "Dog World". Good people are labeled villains because of misinformation on TV and the Internet.

Personally I would rather buy from someone that breeds in their home. Someone who works their dogs. Someone who has a few puppies now and again. Shoot, Deron and I ARE those people.

What Is A Puppy Mill?

I can describe these folks in just about one sentence. They see their dogs as money makers.

This is the "Kennel" that has dogs set up in small areas and do nothing with them, including medical, but breed them, and breed them every single heat cycle. They do not care about the dogs, they care about how many puppies they can sell and how much money they can make from the dogs. Many of their dogs live in terrible conditions. Many of these "breeder dogs" have serious health issues. Very Sad. Very very sad.

And worse. People buy these puppies unknowing. Then down the road, many times right way, their new puppy has many health issues. The new owners did not get the dog they had hoped and the dog is costing so much in Veterinarian Fees the family is robbed of the wonders of owning a healthy happy dog.

more to come

What Is A Dog Rescue?

Along about the time of the words "Backyard Breeder", came to mean something bad, came the term "Dog Rescues". Usually it is the dog rescue people that want people to believe that Pure Bred Dog Breeders and or People that breed their one dog in their homes, are bad people.

Rescue people throw around words like, "adoption", "parents", this puts dogs, their dogs, on the same level as a human being. Not a good thing. Many reasons why...I could write a book. <sighs> Mostly, these "rescuers" want money thrown their way, buying their dogs, sending money to help them keep the dogs, buying them items so they do not have to spend their own money to keep their dogs.

A few, Dog Rescues, very few, are actually a very good thing! Some, very few, are people that take in dogs to find them new homes. Some of these folks really work hard to place dogs that need homes because they care about the animals.

However, this is the new money maker using dogs. Some people, with all the "Political Correctness" are taking advantage of people using the right words, the right phrases, the right lines to get the folks money. This scam is a HUGE MONEY MAKER! These people are as bad as the people that run Puppy Mills!

Many of the folks are "self proclaimed heroes". They make themselves out as a Heroes and get your tax dollars as credits for their "work". They play on people and act as if you buy a Pure Bred Puppy rather than buy, a dog from them, then you are a "bad guy" too. They talk badly about real Dog Breeders and people that own Pure Bred Dogs.

Further, they have self appointed themselves as the Dog in asking too many personal questions before they "allow" you to "adopt" one of THEIR dogs. They ask how much money you make, all about your family and home, many times they want to come and look at your home. They want you to fill out all types of paper work making stupid promises to them.... One of those promises is that if the dog does not work out for you, it goes back to them, free of charge, so that they can sell it again. You know? "For the good of the dog." My Foot! It has become for the good of their pockets.

And, Yes, the word is buy, adoption is a word used and should only be used for human children. Further, these "Rescuers" want your money. Not just to buy their dogs, but to support their dogs in their homes. They ask for money and items to "help their cause".

much more to come

The contents of this page for Choosing A Working Dog Breed is still under construction. Please check back later!

-- The Working Big Dogs Team
Wed, 17 Jul 2013 18:44:27 -0400

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