Working dog breeds are not for the faint of heart for three major reasons. First of all, they’re enormous dogs. These canines have spent centuries hauling heavy carts for trade workers, standing alongside soldiers in wartime and keeping watch over cows and sheep, among other immensely important jobs. Naturally they’re going to be big and strong! Second, working dog breeds are known for their headstrong personalities. Many tend to make their own decisions and do what they believe is right. This brings us to reason number three: their undying loyalty. When presented with danger, working dog breeds will defend their people and their turf no matter what. This means making split second decisions based on the information at hand. The result is a collection of pups who love deeply, don’t take kindly to strangers (for the most part) and excel at making you feel safe.

Owning a working dog breed

Technically, you’ll never own a working dog breed. These animals see themselves as true members of the family. In fact, they may consider themselves a tier above. Many are highly intelligent and, while they learn quickly, won’t always obey commands if the situation tells them otherwise. This isn’t to say they are ill-behaved—quite the contrary! Effective and firm training is simply the key to a successful working dog relationship.

Since many working breeds come from long lines of guard dogs (aka, patrolling territory and alerting their families to, and even attacking, intruders), an aversion to strangers is common. Socialization with other puppies and people during puppyhood is imperative to develop a well-trained dog who can safely co-exist with others.

There are definitely some breeds on our list known for being kid-friendly dogs. These are much less stubborn and independent canines who have grown into good-natured, snuggly pets. Keep in mind that children should always be involved in training sessions, too. Some big dogs don’t know how scary they can be when they get riled up. Pairing kids and dogs together right away is a good way to familiarize all parties with respectful behavior.

RELATED: The Best Dog Sunscreens of 2022 (Because Pups Need SPF Too)

Working Dog Breeds Akita
ZOFF-PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

1. Akita

Height: 24-28 inches

Weight: 70-130 pounds

Personality: Loyal, brave

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Seasonal

Life Expectancy: 10-13 years

Akitas hail from Japan and are seen as symbols of good health and long life in Japanese culture. They excel at guarding the homestead and have dignified personalities. Big, fluffy and ready to defend, firm training early is necessary with the Akita. They’ll gladly bark at intruders (and smother you with love minutes later).

Working Dog Breeds Alaskan Malamute
Marina Varnava/Getty Images

2. Alaskan Malamute

Height: 23-25 inches

Weight: 75-85 pounds

Personality: Playful, obedient

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 10-14 years

Alaskan Malamutes (often called Mals) are pack dogs through and through. This means they thrive on family companionship and enjoy the company of other pets. Strong and active, Alaskan Malamutes are sled dogs unafraid of hard work. Take them hiking or swimming—just don’t leave them home alone for too long.

Working Dog Breeds American Bulldog
Aleksandr Zotov/Getty Images

3. American Bulldog

Height: 20-25 inches

Weight: 60-100 pounds

Personality: Friendly, confident

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Low to moderate

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

American Bulldogs come from English Bulldogs brought to the Americas in the 1700s. Farmers used these strong pups in every way possible—to guard livestock, carry loads, catch predators and more. Today, they make great family pets, as long as they have healthy outlets for their energy. Interactive games are best for American Bulldogs!

Working Dog Breeds Anatolian Shepherd Dog
SHODOgraphy/Getty Images

4. Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Height: 27-29 inches

Weight: 80-150 pounds

Personality: Independent, patient

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Seasonal

Life Expectancy: 11-13 years

Originally a herding breed, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs became more specialized over time and grew into unrivaled guardians. They are certainly independent and reserved but will go to the ends of the earth to protect their people. Anatolians have ancient bloodlines that go back thousands of years to the first domesticated canines in Asia, so they are well-versed in hard work.

Working Dog Breeds Bernese Mountain Dog
Andrew Hingston/Getty Images

5. Bernese Mountain Dog

Height: 23-28 inches

Weight: 70-115 pounds

Personality: Calm, Friendly

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 7-10 years

An incredibly popular family pet, Bernese Mountain Dogs are sweet, friendly and enormous. They shed a ton but it’s worth it to have a gentle, yet strong, companion animal at home. Unlike many other dogs bred to work, guard and herd on rough terrain, Bernese Mountain Dogs enjoy meeting new people and are relatively easy to train.

Working Dog Breeds Black Russian Terrier
alazor/Getty Images

6. Black Russian Terrier

Height: 26-30 inches

Weight: 80-130 pounds

Personality: Calm, protective

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate to high

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

The American Kennel Club calls Black Russian Terriers imposing, massive and majestic. This makes sense since these large dogs were bred specifically for the Russian army by combining 17 (wow) unique breeds. Obedience training and socialization is always on the docket when you own a Black Russian Terrier. In return, they will guard you with everything they’ve got!

Working Dog Breeds Boerboel
Peet Snyder/EyeEm/Getty Images

7. Boerboel

Height: 22-27 inches

Weight: 150-200 pounds

Personality: Affectionate, Confident

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 9-11 years

Boerboels earned their working dog classification in South Africa where they protected homes and families from large predators. As big dogs themselves, they are imposing yet sweet (some even make excellent therapy dogs!). Calm and smart, Boerboels train easily as long as you start while they’re still young and malleable.

Working Dog Breeds Boxer
Danny Beattie Photography/Getty Images

8. Boxer

Height: 21-25 inches

Weight: 50-80 pounds

Personality: Active, playful

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Low to moderate

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

If you’re looking for an energetic, playful and athletic dog, look no further than the Boxer. These dogs make good pets for big families with kids (as long as the dog is trained and socialized with kiddos early). Boxers were bred in the 1800s in Germany for nobility as more manageable versions of large hunting dogs. Keep them active to keep them happy.

Working Dog Breeds Bullmastiff
www.bridgetdavey.com/Getty Images

9. Bullmastiff

Height: 24-27 inches

Weight: 100-130 pounds

Personality: Affectionate, obedient

Activity Level: Moderate to high

Shedding Factor: Low to moderate

Life Expectancy: 7-9 years

The result of breeding English Bulldogs with Mastiffs is the Bullmastiff, a large and confident dog happy to protect the home and family. While they can be playful with familiar faces, they do tend to be reserved with strangers. Some Bullmastiffs are actually quite content chilling at home, which means moderate exercise is necessary to keep them in shape.

Working Dog Breeds Cane Corso
By Anna Rostova/Getty Images

10. Cane Corso

Height: 23-28 inches

Weight: 90-120 pounds

Personality: Smart, loyal

Activity Level: Moderate to high

Shedding Factor: Low to Moderate

Life Expectancy: 9-12 years

With a past full of work on battlefields and farmlands, Cane Corso dogs have minds of their own. They definitely can learn commands but may choose when to obey them if not trained early. Cane Corso dogs are also confident in their skills and have a cooler, more aloof demeanor than some of the snuggly, lovey-dovey dogs on our list.

Working Dog Breeds Chinook
Amy Neunsinger/Getty Images

11. Chinook

Height: 22-26 inches

Weight: 50-90 pounds

Personality: Affectionate, patient

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Developed in New Hampshire by an explorer who wanted to breed his own version of Alaskan sled dogs, Chinooks are one of the rarer breeds out there. They’ve got Siberian Husky and Mastiff DNA, making them strong, affectionate animals. Camping and hiking enthusiasts will find Chinooks to be willing and capable companions.

Working Dog Breeds Doberman Pinscher
RISTOARNAUDOV/GETTY IMAGES

12. Doberman Pinscher

Height: 24-28 inches

Weight: 60-100 pounds

Personality: Intelligent, alert

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

A Doberman Pinscher’s reputation as a fearsome guard dog isn’t totally off. They certainly aren’t viscous, but they will go to great lengths to protect their families. Highly intelligent and energetic, Dobermans are also known for being affectionate with family members and great with kids. Leaving Dobermans home for long stretches alone is not an option.

Working Dog Breeds Dogo Argentino
DircinhaSW/Getty Images

13. Dogo Argentino

Height: 24-27 inches

Weight: 88-100 pounds

Personality: Brave, athletic

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Moderate to high

Life Expectancy: 9-15 years

These powerful dogs are skilled athletes and smart hunters. The Dogo Argentino was bred in Argentina (duh) in the 1930s as a hunting and fighting dog. Today, those skills have translated into a devoted canine who isn’t afraid to step up to the plate when duty calls.

Working Dog Breeds Dogue de Bordeaux
Viara Mileva/Getty Images

14. Dogue de Bordeaux

Height: 23-27 inches

Weight: 99-115 pounds

Personality: Affectionate, protective

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate to high

Life Expectancy: 5-8 years

Possibly as ancient as Caesar himself, Dogue de Bordeaux are mastiff-like pups with relatively even-keeled dispositions. Loyal and protective with large, wrinkly heads, Dogue de Bordeaux shouldn’t overexert themselves when it comes to exercise to prevent joint and bone injury. They tend to have sensitive, stubborn sides, so approach training with a loving (but firm) attitude.

Working Dog Breeds Eurasier
slowmotiongli/Getty Images

15. Eurasier

Height: 19-24 inches

Weight: 40-70 pounds

Personality: Calm, affectionate

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 12-16 years

What do you get when you combine the sweet-natured Samoyed with the independent Chow Chow? A Eurasier! These are loyal family pets with even-keeled dispositions. Smart and adaptable, they love to protect. Always include your Eurasier in family activities and keep training interesting (so they don’t get sad or bored).

Working Dog Breeds German Pinscher
Vieriu Adrian/Getty Images

16. German Pinscher

Height: 17-20 inches

Weight: 25-45 pounds

Personality: Intelligent, playful

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

Smart and alert, German Pinschers are known for their endurance. Small, compact and strong, they enjoy participating in agility competitions or any event that lets them burn steam (they’ve got plenty of energy to go around). If you’re in the market for a feisty, yet sensitive soul, go with a German Pinscher.

Working Dog Breeds Giant Schnauzer
Nemyrivskyi Viacheslav/Getty Images

17. Giant Schnauzer

Height: 23-27 inches

Weight: 55-80 pounds

Personality: Friendly, Obedient

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Hypoallergenic

Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years

Giant Schnauzers need ample exercise and lots of space in which to play. Another German breed, these pups have been known to guard homes, work in butcher shops and corral livestock. Though Giant Schnauzers have thick fur, they’re hypoallergenic making them ideal companions for families with allergy sufferers.

Working Dog Breeds Great Dane
w-ings/Getty Images

18. Great Dane

Height: 28-32 inches

Weight: 110-175 pounds

Personality: Patient, friendly

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Low

Life Expectancy: 7 to 10 years

It should come as no surprise that Great Danes are working dogs, though it might be shocking to learn these mild tempered canines used to hunt wild boar! Today, Great Danes are incredibly sweet, patient and friendly animals, which means they can thrive in households with other pets and kids.

Working Dog Breeds Great Pyrenees
Katja Uhlig/EyeEm/Getty Images

19. Great Pyrenees

Height: 25-32 inches

Weight: 85-110 pounds

Personality: Calm, sweet

Activity Level: Low

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Another gentle giant is the Great Pyrenees! These are enormous, white, fluffy dogs who are keen to say hello to everyone they meet. With hearts of gold, they happily protect their favorite people. Bred to work as guardians and shepherds in the Pyrenees mountains, Great Pyrenees do well in cold climates (just get ready to vacuum up their fur on a daily basis).

Working Dog Breeds Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Bigandt_Photography/Getty Images

20. Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Height: 23-29 inches

Weight: 85-140 pounds

Personality: Affectionate, social

Activity Level: Moderate to high

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 8-11 years

Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs resemble Bernese Mountain Dogs in color and temperament. Developed in Switzerland for guard dog status and hauling carts on farms, these dogs enjoy being in on the action. Give them a job to do or they’ll find one for themselves.

Working Dog Breeds Hovawart
Fhm/Getty Images

21. Hovawart

Height: 23-28 inches

Weight: 65-90 pounds

Personality: Protective, loving

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 10 to 14 years

Hovawarts today perform important roles as members of search and rescue teams. When initially bred in Germany they were used as guardians and trackers. Don’t ignore a disgruntled Hovawart as this means something’s wrong; they’re usually calm, sweet protectors but perk up at the first sign of trouble.

Working Dog Breeds Karelian Bear Dog
slowmotiongli/Getty Images

22. Karelian Bear Dog

Height: 19-24 inches

Weight: 44-50 pounds

Personality: Confident, independent

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 11-13 years

These medium-sized dogs are known for their fearlessness and independence - two traits that serve them well during bear hunts. Karelian Bear Dogs are native to Finland where they are enormously popular among families and singles alike. Energetic and bold, they aren’t afraid to make a mess if you ignore them for too long.

Working Dog Breeds Komondor
Slowmotion/Getty Images

23. Komondor

Height: 25-28 inches

Weight: 80-100+ pounds

Personality: Protective, independent

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Non-shedding

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Hungarian shepherds relied on Komondors to herd and protect large flocks of sheep in difficult terrain and weather. This is why their coats are so intricate! Incredibly protective, Komondors aren’t afraid to make their own rules about guarding their families. This means they may not gel well with other dogs in the household (you’re the only companion they want!).

Working Dog Breeds Kuvasz
La Su/Getty Images

24. Kuvasz

Height: 26-30 inches

Weight: 70-115 pounds

Personality: Obedient, fearless

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Hundreds of years ago in Hungary, Kuvasz dogs watched over large flocks of sheep, ready to pounce if a predator approached. Today, this patient attitude and ability to leap to action at a moment’s notice still rings true. Kuvasz dogs are smart, quick learners and loyal to the bone.

Working Dog Breeds Loenberger
BIGANDT_PHOTOGRAPHY/GETTY IMAGES

25. Loenberger

Height: 25-32 inches

Weight: 90-170 pounds

Personality: Intelligent, goofy

Activity Level: Moderate to high

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 7 to 10 years

What do you get when you combine three of the largest dog breeds around (St. Bernards, Newfoundlands and Great Pyrenees)? Another huge dog. Enter: Leonbergers. Sensitive and smart, they don’t do well if left to their own devices. Known for working rescue missions and therapy work, Leonbergers gotta have a job to do.

Working Dog Breeds Mastiff
Susan Sheldon / EyeEm/Getty Images

26. Mastiff

Height: 27-32 inches

Weight: 120-220 pounds

Personality: Courageous, patient

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 6-10 years

Say hello to perhaps the largest (or heaviest) dog around. Mastiffs are enormous and have loving dispositions. Vigilant in their guardian duties, they’ve been protecting and working alongside humans for millennia. Today they are known for being gentle and friendly, though still very strong and eager to perform their duties.

Working Dog Breeds Neapolitan Mastiff
Getty Images

27. Neapolitan Mastiff

Height: 24-31 inches

Weight: 110-150 pounds

Personality: Sweet, protective

Activity Level: Low

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 9-10 years

Sure, Neapolitan Mastiffs look intimidating, but they may just be plotting a way to sit on your lap. These are super sweet pups with ancient history (they’ve been around for thousands of years and were formerly used in battle as fighters). Today, they’re generally mellow but do need regular exercise to stay fit.

Working Dog Breeds Newfoundland
ANNA AVERIANOVA/500PX/GETTY IMAGES

28. Newfoundland

Height: 26-28 inches

Weight: 100-150 pounds

Temperament: Friendly, loving

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate to high

Life Expectancy: 9-10 years

Newfoundlands are Canadian dogs known for their swimming skills. They’ve been used by lumberjacks to pull wood and fishermen to lug nets. If you want a quiet, trainable dog who happens to be more than 100 pounds, go with a Newfie. (Not recommended for anyone averse to cleaning up drool or dog hair.)

Working Dog Breeds Portuguese Water Dog
suefeldberg/Getty Images

29. Portuguese Water Dog

Height: 17-23 inches

Weight: 35-60 pounds

Personality: Smart, athletic

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Hypoallergenic

Life Expectancy: 11-13 years

Like Newfoundlands, Portuguese Water Dogs are known for working with fishermen and their crazy good swimming skills. They fit well with active, playful families and adapt well to a variety of households and environments. Since Portuguese Water Dogs are high energy, they need plenty of outdoor time.

Working Dog Breeds Rottweiler
Ideas_Studio/Getty Images

30. Rottweiler

Height: 22-27 inches

Weight: 80-135 pounds

Personality: Confident, loving

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 9 to 10 years

Rottweilers are German dogs who have worked with the police and military, pulled carts for butchers and protected farms from harm. While they’re known as loyal protectors, they are definitely strong-willed and can develop aggressive streaks if not trained well early on. Rottweilers really love their people, which is why they have such a fierce reputation!

Working Dog Breeds Saint Bernard
Purple Collar Pet Photography/Getty Images

31. Saint Bernard

Height: 26-30 inches

Weight: 120-180 pounds

Personality: Charming, watchful

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Seasonal

Life Expectancy: 8-10 years

Since Saint Bernards got their start running rescue missions in the Alps, they aren’t exactly hot weather animals. They thrive in cooler climates and in families with kids. Less intense than Rottweilers when guarding the home, Saint Bernards are still watchful pets who pride themselves on being helpful family members.

Working Dog Breeds Samoyed
LTHI KAY CANTHR CAENG/EYEEM/GETTY IMAGES

32. Samoyed

Height: 19-24 inches

Weight: 35-65 pounds

Personality: Sweet, adaptable

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

Samoyeds and their lively personalities come from Siberia where they were used to haul goods, track animals, corral livestock and snuggle up to their owners at night. Smart and sweet, Samoyeds really love their people and happily join in any and every activity. Their hunting past could give them a high prey drive, so be aware while out on walks.

Working Dog Breeds Siberian Husky
Vladislavs Gabovs/EyeEm/Getty Images

33. Siberian Husky

Height: 20-24 inches

Weight: 35-60 pounds

Personality: Loyal, energetic

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

Like Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies are sled dogs made for the pack life. However, Huskies are more independent-minded and can be extra stubborn. This could make training difficult. At their best, Siberian Huskies learn quickly and have enough space in which to burn their ample energy.

Working Dog Breeds Standard Schnauzer
Voltgroup/Getty Images

34. Standard Schnauzer

Height: 17-20 inches

Weight: 30-50 pounds

Personality: Alert, lively

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Hypoallergenic

Life Expectancy: 13-16 years

Standard Schnauzers worked on German farms keeping pests away and guarding animals and crops. As companions, they are doting and adaptable. As dogs, they are active and clever. In general, like other working dogs, they can be stubborn.

Working Dog Breeds Tibetan Mastiff
~User7565abab_575/Getty Images

35. Tibetan Mastiff

Height: 24-26 inches

Weight: 70-150 pounds

Temperament: Stubborn, mellow

Shedding Factor: Moderate to High

Activity Level: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Another ancient dog breed! Tibetan Mastiffs have been around for centuries guarding homes and protecting people. Their size and stature fit their role as a watchdog nicely. Unlike other large breeds who are well-suited for kids, Tibetan Mastiffs may become agitated with too much activity or sound. They prefer mellow environments to match their regal energy.

RELATED: The Best Retractable Dog Leashes 2022

From Around The Web