Dogs have been divided into various categories based on their appearance; work performed and why they were originally bred. These categories have a mix of breeds. However, over time some breeds have evolved. So we talk about the current categories, what were they originally bred for and what kind of work they perform today.
Here are a few major categories where our pooches fit in:
Working dogs: Love to please!
Little ones performing mighty tasks, that’s what our beloved working dogs have been doing. From managing cattle at farms to guarding livestock/people/property and being exceptional service and assistance dogs, they do it all. Fearless, fun loving, strong and smart, they also prove to be perfect companions and pets. When trained properly these dogs show sheer brilliance. For example – Border Collies can be great in managing sheep.
# Service Dogs – They help specially able people perform everyday tasks.
# Therapy Dogs – Usually found in hospitals, rehab centers or old age homes therapy dogs lower stress and anxiety levels. The most common therapy breeds are – Pugs, Beagles, Golden Retrievers, and Labrador Retrievers.
# Rescue Dogs – Helping in natural calamities like floods, earthquakes, accidents, etc. is their prime motive.
# Police Dogs – Trained to assist officers at crime scenes. Their work can be identifying criminals, detecting narcotics and explosives, etc. So the next time you see the dog in the Bomb Detection Squad or the Delhi Metro Squad, you know they are the unsung heroes.
Popular breeds: Labrador, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Tibetan Mastiff, Newfoundland, Chow Chow, Rottweiler, Bull Mastiff, etc.
Expert tip: Dogs can be trained to do many tasks. Some dogs can even detect various diseases like cancer.
Companion Dogs: ‘Life is better with a dog…’
Friendly and happy, these babies love to be a part of the family. They were bred to give people company and because of their loving nature, it became their most sought after task. Their calm nature, easy going attitude and friendly character make them ideal for loving companions. Thousands of years back, smaller breeds like Pugs and Pekingese were kept by the Chinese nobility.
Popular breeds: Beagle, Golden Retriever, Collie, Basset Hound, Golden Labrador, Bulldog, French Bulldog, Dachshund, Pug, Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzu, Dalmatian, Miniature Poodle and Havanese.
Expert tip: A lot of toy breeds are included in this category. The good thing is that any dog can be a companion dog irrespective of their size or breed.
Sled Dogs – We love to pull
They are also popularly known as sledge or sleigh dogs. They were bred to pull sleds that are used as means of transport in the Arctic region. A large number of sleighs are still used in Canada, Greenland, and Alaska. Today, they are primarily used for recreation and sports events.
Experts believe that the endurance of a dog is much higher than that of a horse and that’s why dogs were used in the arctic region for pulling sledges. The beginnings of dog sleds can be traced back to 1000 BC in northern Canada. Slowly these sledges became the main means of transport and were used to transport supplies and mails. They were also used as a patrolling unit. In 1870, sled dogs were used to patrol northern Canadian territory by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Popular breeds: Siberian Husky, Alaskan Husky, Canadian Eskimo Dog, Alaskan Malamute, Newfoundland, St. Bernard and Labrador Retriever.
Expert tip: Sled dog races are internationally popular—‘La Grande Odyssée Savoie Mont Blanc’ is one such popular race held annually on French Alp, covering a distance of 900 km and the next race will be organised from 7th -9th January 2017. Similarly, ‘The Last Great Race on Earth’ is another sled dog race of the kind, organised at Iditarod trail in Alaska. The coming race will be held from 1st -7th March 2017.
Hunting Dogs: Buddies for adventure
Dogs who hunt for or with humans are known as hunting dogs. Every breed is trained in a different manner which gives them their ability to hunt. For example, when trained properly some dogs would sit on the boat and upon smelling the target they would bark once or twice.
The category of hunting dogs is further divided into – Hounds, Terriers and Gun Dogs. There are two kinds of Hounds – Sight Hounds and Scent Hounds. Sight Hounds adapt speed and sight the prey from a distance. Very quick and independent in nature, Scent Hounds hunt by trailing the scent and reaching the prey. They usually hunt in packs and are popularly called Leash Hounds. Nomadic people of north Africa used their Hounds to kill and hunt bovines in the area. For example, Greyhounds.
Terriers are primarily used to hunt mammals. They would locate the den or the set of animals and then capture them.
The most popular breeds of Gun Dogs are – Spaniels, Retrievers and Setters. Spaniels were used around 1000 BC in the area around Nile to catch small birds.
Popular breeds: Labrador Retriever, American Foxhound, Beagle, Pointer, Bloodhound, Golden Retriever, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Weimaraner, Greyhound, and Irish Setter.
Expert tip: The dainty looking Dachshund cuties are originally hunting dogs. They were bred to chase foxes, deer, boar, and burrowing animals – hare and rabbits. You’d be amazed to know that Dachshund is the only breed to be certified to hunt both above and underground.
Guard dogs: keeping danger at bay
As the name suggests, guard dogs or watch dogs as they are popularly known, are used to guard against trouble and unwanted people or animals. Their main characteristic is that most breeds of this category bark loudly to raise an alarm and alert the pet parents. In older times guard dogs were used to guard livestock since 4000 BC. Sheepdogs and Mastiffs were used for hunting as well as protecting livestock from predators. Great Danes were once an integral breed in this category. In medieval times they were used for wild boar hunting. With years of evolution, now they are less ferocious and more docile.
Popular breeds: Pitbull, Mastiffs, Doberman, German Shepherd, Rottweiler and Alsatian.
Expert tip: Since they are robust and strong, a lot of people confuse guard dogs to be aggressive and dangerous. When trained properly these dogs live harmoniously with people, kids and other dogs as well. Expert research says that female dogs make better guard dogs as compared to males because of their natural maternal instincts.
There is so much that our canine companions do for us. The least we can do for them is to treat them with respect and dignity. They understand our emotions like no one else! Giving back love and affection would only make the bond stronger.