If you have ever met a dog in your life, then you probably have some idea just how amazing they can be.
That said, their capabilities go well beyond just being faithful friends and companions. Many dogs find themselves working a wide slate of jobs alongside human coworkers.
Some of these dog jobs are well-known, and some may surprise you. Here’s our list of the top jobs that dogs work every day.
1. Search and Rescue
If you watch enough old cartoons, you might be familiar with the image of a faithful St. Bernard reviving snowbound rescuees with a barrel of brandy around its collar. While a bit of a folksy exaggeration, its a trope with roots in reality.
In reality, trained search and rescue dogs are found all over the world. Whenever a natural disaster strikes or a hiker loses their way in the woods, search and rescue dogs are always at the vanguard of search and rescue efforts. Between their endurance and their acute sense of smell, these pups are exactly who you’d want searching for you if you ever got lost.
2. Maritime Rescue
Now a lot of people already knew about search and rescue dogs, but did you know that some also serve in water rescue teams?
In particular, the Newfoundland breed is particularly well-suited to maritime rescue operations. A very strong breed with a natural affinity for water, they can be trained to recognize distressed or unconscious swimmers and pull them safety.
3. Drug Detecting Dogs
Police K-9 units are among the most recognizable professional dogs. While they serve several different roles in that capacity, probably their most famous talent is detecting illicit drugs.
A dog’s sense of smell is several magnitudes more powerful than a human’s, and once trained to seek and respond to a specific scent their success rate is unparalleled.
4. Bomb Detecting Dogs
Illicit substances aren’t the only things that dogs can be trained to detect. Most explosives have their own scents which, while too faint for most humans to notice, can alert a well-trained dog to danger.
You’ll often see these dogs employed at airports or train stations. But they also find work in military settings, where their acute sense of smell allows them to detect hidden explosives with a 98% success rate.
5. Truffle Detecting Dogs
On the lighter side of things, the same abilities that allow dogs to detect drugs or explosives can also make them valuable to chefs.
Truffles are mushrooms – very rare, very valuable mushrooms – highly sought after for use in gourmet cooking. They typically grow wild and must be found and harvested manually, adding to their scarcity and value.
That’s where truffle-sniffing dogs come in. Able to seek out these rare ingredients, a good truffle dog can be worth their weight in gold.
6. Conservation Dogs
While all dogs have an excellent sense of smell, not all of them have the right disposition for military of police work. Rather than let their skills go to waste, these dogs will often find themselves transferred over to conservation agencies.
You see, a lot of conservation work relies on being able to seek out endangered animals so that scientists can study them, identify their ranges and territory, and help to protect them. Trained conservation dogs can help in this regard by…well, by identifying these rare animals’ droppings.
Some dogs can even do this at sea, helping researchers track and study whales in nature.
7. Cancer Detecting Dogs
In a fairly recent development, it seems that we may even see dogs entering the medical field. Specifically, they have shown the ability to sniff out tell-tale markers of diseases like cancer in the skin, urine, or even breath of patients.
One labrador named Daisy helped to diagnose more than 500 cases of cancer, aiding in early detection and saving lives in the process.
8. Service Dogs
One of the most visible services that dogs perform for humans is working as service dogs. IN the United States alone, there are about half a million service dogs working today, aiding the humans in a variety of ways.
Service dogs have been around for more than a hundred years. And thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is the law that these faithful companions be allowed nearly everywhere that their humans are. This article details just a few rules and common questions about service dogs in public places like restaurants.
9. Therapy Dogs
Therapy dogs serve similar roles to service dogs but are formally recognized as being in their own category.
From anxiety and depression to PTSD to cancer treatment, dogs have been increasingly introduced as a form of mental and emotional therapy. Many are sent to visit nursing homes, children’s hospitals, and disaster shelters where their presence and the opportunity for soft contact has a marked effect on residents’ emotional well-being.
10. Dog Actors
As dogs are perhaps humanity’s oldest and most beloved companions, it’s natural that many of them make it into our movies as well.
Every dog you see on film, TV, or even in commercials is a pro actor who has to work just as hard as their human costars. Some are even talented and recognizable enough to garner recurring roles and their own fanbases, like the gifted wolfdog who starred in both of Disney’s White Fang films as well as menacing Kurt Russel in The Thing.
11. Mascot Dogs
As much as we love our dogs, they make an obvious choice for designated mascots.
Many famous brands have been represented by dogs over the years, as well as some of the most prestigious schools in America. Yale University seems to be the originator of the trend, choosing a bulldog named Handsome Dan as their official mascot way back in 1889.
12. Herding Dogs
One of the very first jobs given to dogs was helping shepherds herd their flocks.
Many shepherding breeds have been around for thousands of years, and some will even exhibit innate herding behavior without any training. And from the early days of keeping dogs to the present, it’s a tradition that we still keep alive today.
Okay, so the exact legality of a dog serving in public office is dubious. But we can confirm at least one case where a dog ran for mayor and won.
In 1981, a dog by the name of Bosco was entered in the mayoral race in Sunol, California as a joke, only to end up winning the election. Though serving a mostly ceremonial role, the town’s beloved mayor would enjoy 13 years in office.
There Are as Many Dog Jobs as There Are Dogs to Do Them
Between their natural intelligence and their close relationship with us, dogs are well-suited to a wide variety of dog jobs. Even now, our canine friends are still finding new ways to impress us with their capabilities, and will probably continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
For more stories of the curious and unexpected, always remember to check back for the latest from Odd Culture.