Work Cut Out For Man’s Best Friend

Work Cut Out For Man's Best Friend


Humans aren’t the only ones who work and deserve a break on Labor Day.  From detecting bombs to saving people from wreckages, dogs do a number of jobs that put their noses to work. 

To celebrate dogs this Labor Day and the New York City return of AKC Meet the Breeds® – the world’s largest gathering of dogs and cats – the American Kennel Club (AKC®) names the top 5 detection jobs canines do and highlights some of the breeds that specialize in these tasks.

“Dogs go above and beyond each and every day, not only as beloved family pets, but as loyal members of the workforce,” said AKC Meet the Breeds Spokesperson Gina DiNardo.  “From alerting people to life threatening situations to helping others get a good night’s sleep, the AKC is proud to honor dogs who help others excel at their jobs.”

AKC’s top five detection jobs for dogs include:

  • Bed bug sniffing.  Bed bugs became a major problem for businesses and homeowners over the past few years, so a new employee entered the workforce – the dog.  With their excellent noses, exterminators and business owners enlisted the dog’s incredible abilities to find where bed bugs were hiding so humans could get rid of them.  Dogs are also vital for follow-up, to determine if an extermination method worked.  Today, professional groups have established standards in bed bug-detector dog training, testing, and certification.  Breeds that are commonly used in bed bug detection are Beagles, Labrador Retrievers, and Belgian Malinois, among others.

  • Search and Rescue.   From missing persons cases to natural disasters, dogs have been an integral part in finding people who are in dire situations.  Search and rescue (SAR) dogs can either use a scent in the air or the scent of a specific object to find who they’re looking for.  They can be used in many different situations, including disasters – such as the earthquake in Haiti where dogs found people beneath the rubble – cadaver searches, drowning situations, and avalanches.  Search and rescue training is a rigorous process starting from puppyhood.  Once training is completed, dogs are tested and certified by SAR organizations.  Breeds that most commonly work with SAR are German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Bloodhounds, among others.

  • Explosives detection.  Dogs have been serving our country at home and abroad for many years saving lives by warning their handlers of explosive devices.  These canine heroes work with the police, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and military to locate dangerous materials.  The dogs go through an intense training course to learn how to locate and identify a wide variety of explosives and to alert their handlers of its presence.  Breeds that excel in this kind of work include the German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, and Vizsla.

  • Cancer detection.  Believe it or not, scientists were able to train Labrador Retrievers to sniff out cancer in patients’ breath by smelling samples and sitting down in front of the one that was cancerous.  Cancer cells give off different odors than regular cells and they change the way a person’s breath smells– a dog’s keen nose can tell the difference.  In one case in particular, the Lab correctly diagnosed the disease 98 percent of the time, whereas a test that is commonly used found the cancer only 10 percent of the time.

  • Allergy Alert dogs.  Peanut allergies can be life threatening.  Stepping up to the job to alleviate parents’ fears when their kids leave the house are a variety of dogs that have the uncanny sense to sniff out even the slightest trace of peanuts.  These dogs are trained to detect the allergen and its residue at schools, during social events, and everyday activities and alert their owner.  Their training is similar to that of a police dog learning to track scents or drugs.  Breeds that most commonly work as allergy alert dogs are the Poodle, the Golden Retriever, and the Portuguese Water Dog.

From the Afghan Hound to the Turkish Van, AKC Meet the Breeds is the world’s largest showcase of dogs and cats and offers pet lovers a unique opportunity to play with some of the country’s rarest dog and cat breeds while educating themselves about responsible pet ownership and choosing the right breed for their lifestyle.  Presented by PetPartners, Inc., this family-friendly event will showcase 160 AKC registered dog breeds and 50 TICA registered cat breeds – in booths individually decorated to depict each breed’s country of origin, historical purpose/function, and attributes as a family pet – include fun animal demonstrations and more than 100 vendors selling unique holiday dog and cat items.

Visit for more information on these detection dog breeds, or meet them in person at AKC Meet the Breeds November 19th and 20th at the Javits Center in New York City.  Tickets allow admittance for one day and can be purchased online at  You can also see these dogs at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship December 17th and 18th at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. 

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