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I agree with the poster on that thread as well.

However, I do know that MANY people refer to overall breeds as "working dogs" and that can create some confusion. For example, "I have an Australian Shepherd and she's a working dog, so we have to keep her busy by competing in agility."
 

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For me a working dog is a dog who performs a functional task with a human for the sake of saving lives/ensuring safety or as part of their livelihood.

That means that what is on the line is a *life*, or the financial well being/continued existence of a person or their business.

If it gets you points, a ribbon, or a title, it is a SPORT.

You can absolutely have working dogs be sports dogs and sports dogs who also do work, but if the only thing on the line is a title/award/ribbon and you paid to participate? It's a sport. Full stop, the end.
 

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I don't mind 'working breeds' as a descriptor. I don't mind working *bred* as a description of the breeding, but I CANNOT STAND people who call their agility, flyball, or even IPO dogs 'working' dogs.

Your dogs aren't working. Your dogs are playing games with you. They're sometimes really demanding, athletic, games that require a lot of time and high levels of training, but GAMES. They are things people do because they are fun for the human and ideally fun for the dog. They're optional. They're hobbies. They are EXPENSIVE hobbies, both in times of money and time.

They are not freaking WORK and the dogs are not WORKING when they play them.
 

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Yup, I'm with CptJack for the most part. If the dog performs a "job" that directly contributes one or more person's mental or physical wellbeing or livelihood (above and beyond "we play a sport together and it's fun"), it's a working dog. I'm also comfortable with people calling their dogs that are primarily housepets but also go out and hunt with their owners "working" dogs, even if hunting isn't their livelihood. They're still bringing home meat that provides for the household, which is a step closer to "working" than dog sports, imo.

Also, around here all of the big predators have been wiped out, so moose and deer need to be hunted to keep the populations healthy, and hunting teams are required to have a certified blood tracking dog available to them, so that's a situation where I'd consider the dog a "working" blood tracker, even if it might not need to be called out in any given hunting season.

I will call certain breeds (or landraces) as a group "working breeds/dogs," largely to mean that they are actively being bred to perform specific jobs, and have needs or behaviors above and beyond the "average" pet dog, and that owning one requires some extra insight into their temperament. But individually speaking, I probably won't call a specific Komondor a "working dog" if it's never seen a sheep in its life, even if it is a freestyle or IPO champion.
 

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I completely agree with all of that.

I'm going to quibble about semantics a bit... When I am training with my dog, AT THE TIME that I do the training, I refer to her as "working". In general, this helps keep people from approaching me or the dog while I'm trying to concentrate on what we're doing. It cuts down on the "Hey, that's a cool dog. Can I pet her?" if I answer "I'm sorry, she's working now". Her nosework harness also says Working K9 on it.

At no other time do I refer to her as a working dog.
 

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I don't refer to my dogs as working dogs. I call my dogs "sport" dogs, not working dogs. Working breeds sometimes, maybe?

But still. Whether my dog is working sheep on a farm or working sheep for sport I would think the dog doesn't really know the difference if it is a game or a job? Some sports are more play than others but some "real working dogs" also probably feel like they are just playing a game the whole time at their jobs.

Sports are as close to "working" as we get these days I suppose. I understand the technicalities of it. I understand why someone who truly works their dogs would be mad. But meh. Personally I don't really care either way. :)
 

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I don't think the dog knows the difference whether they're herding sheep on a farm, or herding sheep in a trial. I don't think the dog knows the difference between tracking for points or tracking to find a lost child. A dog doesn't know if it's finding an odor for a NW title or to detect explosives in an airport.

Most sports are 'mock' versions of work.

But working dogs ARE still used and the importance, seriousness, and *weight* of what they do, the pressure on them and the importance of their performance, and the environment they perform it in, really just isn't comparable, IMO, to sports dog.

And lbr, the ability to train a dog to even fairly high level nosework titles is not going to translate to having a dog who can get up, every day, and search for and find IEDs in an actual combat zone. I dog who does well at IPO is not necessarily going to succeed at being an actual police dog.

It's just. Not the same thing. The training intensity and duration isn't the same, the performance requirements aren't really the same, the risk sure as heck isn't the same. Working dogs are damned rare, and I guess ultimately I like seeing them get the credit and, yeah, status I think they deserve.

Even more so when I see so many people trying to either use sports to belittle 'pet' owners as inferior, OR somehow implying the sport and the working job the sport is a play version of are the same. If I need a dog to find my loved one, I want the dog to be an actual working dog - not a dog with NW titles, you know?
 

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Yeah, the difference for me isn't the dog's mentality, but rather if the dog is removed (gets lost, dies, forced retirement, alien abduction...), does the human element suffer a tangible loss - mental or physical health, ability to perform their livelihood, other financial or material (ie hunted meat) loss - specifically due to a job the dog performed. I mean, of course we all suffer and mourn when we lose a beloved pet, but that's different than losing a psychiatric service dog that interrupts flashbacks and reminds you to take your medication.

It's got to suck to lose a sport dog that you put hours of work and lots of money into training and trialing, to say nothing of the deep bond most people have with their dogs. But the worst material consequences are you can't participate in a hobby anymore (until/unless you have another dog suited for the sport). Not quite equivalent to losing independence, being unable to accurately and quickly detect drugs, losing time and money moving livestock less effectively (and possibly less safely), passing up a season's worth of hunting, etc.
 

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I pretty much agree with CptJack.

A working dog is one who has an actual "job", be it police dog, arson investigation dog, detection dog, service dog, or a dog who works livestock every day as part of its owner's livelihood. With a working dog, lives, health, and/or livelihood can be a stake.

Sport/competition dogs are dogs that are trained for and compete in sports. They might be pretty intense sports, like IPO or Ring, but they are still sports. If a dog blows a track, there is no possibility that someone will die from not being found, or that a dangerous person isn't apprehended. If a dog fails to find all the hides in a nosework search, that cotton swab is not going to explode, injuring, or possibly killing people.
 

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I think working dogs are dogs who go out with their owner every single day and actually, well, work. Getting up every morning and herding livestock, police work, service dogs. Something that if that dog were to disappear, their owner's/handler's life would be severely impacted because they can't get their work done! It's hard to herd livestock without a dog, it's hard to detect drugs without a dog!

To me, a dog that competes on weekends, no matter how intense the sport, isn't really a working dog. It's a game. If a sport dog were to suddenly disappear, nobody would be losing money because chores couldn't get done. Of course that dog is important, but it's not essential for your job or livelihood.
 

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If someone tells me their dog who they take herding sheep every week to work their dog's natural instincts that their dog is a working dog.. I'm just saying I'm not going to fight them on it. I'm not going to correct it. Because it's not much different to me than telling a pet owner that their dog is inferior because they are just a pet.

For discussion's sake.. yeah a true working dog is a difficult to replace tool. A sport dog is not the same obviously.

I still feel like we've all said "my dog is working" because our dogs are "working DOGS" they are just not.. "WORKING dogs"? I think that over time it has just kind of taken on a new meaning like things do.. because true working dogs aren't nearly as common. Am I being clear? Lolz.

Apparently I use "true working dog" for dogs with serious jobs. (Again, I never call my dogs working dogs in real life).
 

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I do competition with my working dogs. I can say for a fact that most good Patrol dogs are not good competition dogs in IPO. Some will be able to cross over, but there is a difference between the two. A good Police Patrol dog is usually not a good IPO sport dog.. the temperament is different. It is not that the Patrol dog CAN'T do IPO.. it is that they will not score as well and the training is more difficult.

OTOH a top of the line IPO dog usually is not a good Patrol dog. But not always.

The IPO or Schutzhund dog that runs under pressure from a decoy is not good for sport or patrol.. though the dog can continue in sport with the right choice of decoys, trial helpers and judges.

It was mentioned here that a dog does not know the difference between trial tracking and finding a lost child. Trust me on this. The two are VASTLY different. In trial tracking (AKC or IPO/Schutzhund) the dog is performing a footstep to footstep tracking behavior. It is trained and it is an obedience exercise as much as it is a tracking exercise.

Footstep tracking is NOT how a working dog finds suspects or children. Tracking lost people or suspects is a different behavior ("police dog tracking") that uses both ground scent and air scent and requires an extremely astute handler that can read the dog, the wind direction and so forth. NOT reading the dog (in a police pursuit) can result in danger to the officer/handler.

The same with herding. Trial herding can be very artificial but the biggest thing with trial herding is that it is in a different physical location from the dog's home farm if the dog does real work. What I have noticed in herding is that those dogs who have really good handlers who do real work at home do tend to dominate at trials.

Last, and not least, a lot of true working dog handlers are not really good handlers (especially Police dog handlers). The dog is a tool and they have minimal training in the use of that tool (there are a plethora of videos showing this). This is to the point where the dogs trained and chosen for police patrol work or sometimes totally inappropriate in that job!! I recall a few videos where the officer "sent the dog" and the dog ran alongside the suspect NOT biting and NOT preventing the escape and acting more like it was a game. Wrong dog for that work can get a police officer killed.

Police have gone over to Malinois in a lot of departments. These dogs are high drive, but handler sensitive.. and take a different level of finesse (often lacking in police handlers). These dogs are also used in sport and dominate in Ring sports (which were designed for them just as Schutzhund/IPO was originally designed as a breeding worthiness test for the GSD).

The article was good start but terribly simplistic.

I refer to my dogs as working dogs to the general public. It is simply easier than trying to explain IPO sport. My "working dogs" do not live in the house as pets and are kept in kennels unless we are training, working or taking a hike etc. This is how a working K9 is kept (or should be kept and with good reason.. tho a lot are not..).

The basic point is well made. A true working dog is often a different animal from a sport of competition dog. In the end? The dogs probably don't differentiate at all.

I recall one comment I was told to remember when I was out there training in the Protection phase: "Remember.. the fight with the Decoy is real to the dog."
 

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If someone tells me their dog who they take herding sheep every week to work their dog's natural instincts that their dog is a working dog.. I'm just saying I'm not going to fight them on it. I'm not going to correct it. Because it's not much different to me than telling a pet owner that their dog is inferior because they are just a pet.

For discussion's sake.. yeah a true working dog is a difficult to replace tool. A sport dog is not the same obviously.

I still feel like we've all said "my dog is working" because our dogs are "working DOGS" they are just not.. "WORKING dogs"? I think that over time it has just kind of taken on a new meaning like things do.. because true working dogs aren't nearly as common. Am I being clear? Lolz.

Apparently I use "true working dog" for dogs with serious jobs. (Again, I never call my dogs working dogs in real life).
A truly top of the line competition dog in my sport (any sport I suspect) is absolutely as difficult to replace as a top of the line working dog. Neither are common....
 

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A truly top of the line competition dog in my sport (any sport I suspect) is absolutely as difficult to replace as a top of the line working dog. Neither are common....
Yes, but I its more of in the sense that if you lose your sport dog suddenly, its not like your livelihood is at risk. I could lose my agility dog tomorrow, and the way I work or make my living isn't going to fail. I would probably have more money, lol. If you lost your IPO dog tomorrow, you wouldn't be worrying how you're going to finish chores or function.

But, if a farmer or rancher loses his herding dog, how does he herd his livestock? If someone who is struggling with a disability loses their service dog, how are they going to function? If a police officer loses his K9, how is he going to search vehicles for drugs or houses for bad guys? There's certainly other ways, but that dog made completing that task a heck of a lot easier!

So yes, losing any dog and then replacing that dog you've put an incredible amount of time, training, and money into is going to be a hit, but you can just as easily....not. If you depended on that dog to perform a certain task for you on a daily basis...well, you're looking on a great deal of hardship while you work on replacing it.
 

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Yes, but I its more of in the sense that if you lose your sport dog suddenly, its not like your livelihood is at risk. I could lose my agility dog tomorrow, and the way I work or make my living isn't going to fail. I would probably have more money, lol. If you lost your IPO dog tomorrow, you wouldn't be worrying how you're going to finish chores or function.

But, if a farmer or rancher loses his herding dog, how does he herd his livestock? If someone who is struggling with a disability loses their service dog, how are they going to function? If a police officer loses his K9, how is he going to search vehicles for drugs or houses for bad guys? There's certainly other ways, but that dog made completing that task a heck of a lot easier!

So yes, losing any dog and then replacing that dog you've put an incredible amount of time, training, and money into is going to be a hit, but you can just as easily....not. If you depended on that dog to perform a certain task for you on a daily basis...well, you're looking on a great deal of hardship while you work on replacing it.
All of this. The time, money, training, and even selection of the dog are difficult either way.

But you know what you lose if you lose a sport dog? Even if you never replace them? A completely optional, recreational, hobby. And don't get me wrong, that sucks. I love agility. It is important to me. It's a lot of my social life, and it's a hobby, and it's something I take seriously.

But it's a hobby and a game. Nothing except my ability to have fun doing a thing I like a lot hinges on it. Certainly, I'd be financially BETTER off rather than worse if I was entirely unable to do it. Dog sports are not only not income, they're expensive.

It is not even CLOSE to the same impact as a true working dog that people rely on to get their jobs done being lost. Never mind dogs people rely on for their lives an the lives of others. A therapy dog being lost would have more impact than the loss of even a highly competitive sports dog.

It is a GAME. What you put into it is optional. There are NO consequence beyond not getting to play when a sports dog is lost. None. The impact to loss of a detection, SAR, police K9 or dog on a working farm? NOT EVEN CLOSE.
 
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