dog training, dog behavior, dog health
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 Intelligent, Alert, Friendly and Large 

by Kay King ( )

Canines in the Working Group are medium to extremely large sized dogs.   From performing avalanche and water rescues to protecting property, these dogs have been invaluable assets to their owners for many years.
Currently, the working traits are most often used for special purposes such as police work, guarding property and rescue operations.   Many years ago, these animals would keep watch over human families when the owner/master was away and also would go to battle with their owner and attack the enemy by his side. (continued below)

Their usually high intelligence makes them quick to learn the job they are to do and they often are also good companion dogs.   The size and sheer strength of many of these breeds may make them unsuitable for average families as pets.  Exceptions to this are found with animals that are well trained from puppyhood by their owners and are raised with the family.   The exuberance of large breed puppies may be too much for small children, but working dogs will adopt the entire family as "his" when reared and trained properly. 
Proper obedience training is critical with these breeds whether they are to be used as working dogs or companion/pet dogs. Training should begin in early puppyhood before the dog's size becomes a problem for the handler.  Most working dogs have great temperaments and some such as boxers, Newfoundland's and Burmese Mountain Dogs love children and make wonderful pets. 
Akitas, Rottweilers, Boxers and Dobermans have the most dominant personalities and are potentially the most aggressive.   These dogs are the most likely to respond to a disturbance, rapid movement or high pitched voice of a child by reverting to "prey" mode unless they are socialized well from an early age.   These dogs are not suitable for first time dog owners as the owner must position himself as "in charge" from the beginning.
Until the 19th century, appearance was not a consideration for breeders of this group of dogs.   The breeds were chosen because of their natural instincts and temperament and the specific traits were developed by breeding to enhance performance of a specific type of work.  Guard or attack dogs were bred to enhance their defense of their territory; rescue dogs were bred to increase their stamina and concentration.
In the past, it was not uncommon to cross one breed with another to increase useful characteristics of the dogs.  Careful records were kept and passed on.  Many of the now recognized purebred animals were originally developed by cross breeding.
Working dogs often have long or double coats and shed heavily.  In Spring, owners may pull loose fur form the coat by the handful.  These pets need daily grooming with brushes or combs and there are specialized shedding tools that will help minimize the hair on floors and carpets, clothing and furniture.
Guard dogs 
Dogs that guard property differ in their approach based on breed and training.   A "Watch Dog" does just that - he watches out for problems and when one is encountered his loud barking is meant to both alert his owner and to frighten the intruder.   The limit of his ability is to let the owner know about a problem - he does not attempt to solve the problem himself.  These are also called "sentry dogs" in some areas.
Most of us think of "attack" when we think of guard dogs.  Not all breeds of working dogs can be trained to attack humans as it requires a strong protective instinct and dominant personality in the dog.  Attack dogs do not bark as watch dogs do as the goal is to catch the intruder rather than frighten it away.

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