What jobs are working dogs used for?
FFor centuries, dogs have been bred specifically to help man with all sorts of practical tasks: from hunting and herding to fishing and farming. In recent years, however, many familiar breeds have been deployed in more unusual canine roles.
These versatile “working dogs” include pastoral breeds and hunting dogs such as the Labrador, Springer Spaniel and Collie (not to be confused with the Kennel Club’s official working breed category, which was traditionally reserved for large guard breeds such as the Rottweiler).
Jobs with a difference
“Dogs with trades” now work in the health and social field, for example: helping people with disabilities or guiding the visually impaired, and detecting life-threatening diseases such as cancer and type 1 diabetes.
According to experts from the charity Medical Detection Dogs, dogs can identify tiny concentrations of scents of around one part per trillion – the equivalent of a teaspoon of sugar in two Olympic-sized swimming pools – so that ‘they can easily detect minute changes in an individual’s personal scent. , triggered by a specific medical condition.
Police use breeds such as the German Shepherd and Malinois to defuse dangerous situations and UK Border Agency dogs detect alcohol, illegal drugs and firearms. The same skills are also used in nature conservation work, where specially trained dogs search for protected species or participate in environmental studies.
Even traditional search and rescue skills are adapting to modern culture: mountain rescue dogs bring their tracking skills to the urban environment when searching for missing dementia patients or vulnerable people who are planning to commit suicide or self-harm.
Understanding Working Breeds
Working dogs can be loyal and intelligent, and their willingness to learn makes training them a real pleasure. But you have to do your homework.
Labradors make excellent detection dogs, but their heightened sense of smell can mean they are easily distracted by food. Conversely, hunting dogs such as the Golden Retriever and the Weimaraner were bred to work closely with people so that they would become affectionate and docile pets.
“Do your research and make sure you’re fully prepared for the breed you’re considering,” says Andrew Sanderson of Royal Canin, who works closely with police and guide dogs. “All breeds have inherent characteristics and care must be taken in choosing the best one for your situation.”
Take care of your dog
Mr. Sanderson points out that for some breeds – the springer spaniel, for example – there are two different bloodlines: working and domestic. “Although both types have equal merits as pets, working lines may require more mental and physical stimulation to keep them happy and healthy.”
If you decide that an aggressive working breed is right for you, your dog will need plenty of daily exercise and mental stimulation in the form of puzzles and games – even fetching a ball on a walk will keep the mind occupied. a busy breed. But with a lot of patience and effort, you will have a faithful and loving companion for life.
Proud to nurture generations of guide dogs
This winter, Royal Canin will donate £1 to Guide Dogs for every promotional bag of Breed food sold at participating pet shops across the UK.*
For more information go to royalcanin.co.uk/guidedogs