Working Breeds and Children

Working breed dogs are large dogs and are often very independent and difficult to manage.   Their role in history was often that of guardian and protector.   Some such as Akitas were bred to guard palaces, homes, and livestock and others such as the Rottweiler were bred to haul carts.  

Although it seems like a working breed dog should be a gentle giant or that they would be obedient around children, often they are not. Just because a dog is a good guardian does not mean he or she will be nice to kids or other animals.   There is also no guarantee they will be nice to guests.   They are hard wired to protect you and they can be selective about who they choose to protect.  

If you have children or if you like to entertain you need to think twice before letting a working breed dog into you home. Many of them are naturally wary of strangers, easily irritated and triggered to attack when they sense quick movements or staring. This is exactly the type of dog that you should avoid meeting eyes with if you don’t know him as staring triggers his predator instincts. Dog may also attack simply if it senses fear or a lack of confidence in a human or a creature as these are signals that he has encountered submissive prey.

 Unless you are committed to a professional and formal obedience program, working breeds are not suitable for first time dog owners. Also working breeds have thick undercoats and shed a great deal of hair. The hair is very coarse and sharp and these dogs shed a lot.  Of all of the working breeds, the Samoyed, Saint Bernard, Portuguese Water Dog, Newfoundland, and Siberian Husky have the most docile temperaments and therefore make the best family pets.  The most aggressive, dominant and territorial of working breeds are the Akita, Rottweiler, Boxer, Komondor, and Doberman. Working breeds that can be socialized, but with caution are the Alaskan Malamute, Bernese Mountain Dog, Bullmastiff, Giant Schnauzer, Great Dane, Great Pyrenees, Kuvasz;, Mastiff; and Standard Schnauzer. Keep in mind that schnauzers love to do battle with other dogs, and Akitas and Mals will hunt small game and cats. It is not a good idea to introduce an Akita or Mals into a house with cats.  

Beware of purchasing the immensely popular Rottweiler, a breed that is at once maligned and praised for its ability as a family guardian.   Over the years too many breeders have been producing too many poor-quality puppies that are being purchased by too many ignorant buyers. Dog must have stable personality to go with his loyalty. If you decide on a Rottweiler, be sure to buy from a reputable breeder.   Rotties also need a substantial amount of training or else not too many people will trust the two of you when they see you out for a walk.  Many working dogs are susceptible to degenerative joint disease, particularly hip dysplasia, and should only be purchased from breeders who clear their breeding stock of this genetic abnormality.