10 Strongest Dog Breeds for Getting Work Done

People have bred working dogs throughout history to assist in huntingfarmingherding, and other challenging jobs. These dogs are powerful, robust breeds with the intelligence and endurance to get the job done. Many strong dogs are selected to work alongside people as police and military dogs, guards, search and rescue dogs, or herding or hunting. They have natural talent and undergo intensive training. Most of these dogs are in the American Kennel Club’s Working or Herding group, although not all are. The brute strength of a few breeds may surprise you.

Here are 10 of the strongest dog breeds used for hunting, herding, and tasks that require endurance.

Tip

If you plan to get a powerful breed, then you will need to be able to manage that dog in many situations: in your home, during walks, meeting other dogs, and greeting people. All dogs but stronger ones especially need to follow your instructions and training is a must.

Rottweiler

Rottweiler dog with black and brown fur standing outdoors

The Spruce / Kristie Lee

Like many dog breeds, Rottweilers were initially bred to herd large animals, pull carts, and serve as security dogs. To do their jobs, they had to be extremely big and strong. Today’s Rottweilers still tend to nudge objects, other animals, and people. They can be great family dogs, but Rottweilers don’t pair well with the elderly or families with small kids; their prodding can topple people who are prone to falling.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working (AKC)

HEIGHT: 22 to 27 inches at the shoulder

WEIGHT: 80 to 130 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Short double coat that comes in black with tan, rust, or mahogany coloring

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 8 to 10 years

 

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Great Dane

Black and white spotted great dane dog laying down and looking up

The Spruce / Kristie Lee

Great Danes are massive and have sweet calm personalities; they are the “gentle giants” of the dog world. Great Danes were originally bred to be powerful boar hunting dogs that could hold their prey until the hunter caught up. Over time, they became watchdogs and family companions. As they became popular family dogs, breeders selectively bred out their tough, hunting personalities to make them the gentle, sweet dogs we know today.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working (AKC)

HEIGHT: 28 to 34 inches at the shoulder

WEIGHT: 100 to 200 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Short, coarse hair that comes in black, blue, brindle, fawn, and other color variations

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 8 to 10 years

 

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Siberian Husky

Siberian husky walking on a beach

Bev Robertson / Getty Images

Stories about huskies are well known; they have incredible strength that allows them to pull heavy sleds across challenging, snowy terrain. But how did these sled dogs get so strong? About 3,000 years ago, the nomadic Chukchi tribe in Siberia first bred the Chukchi dog to pull their heavy hunting sleds across long distances. In addition to brute strength, the Chukchi dog possessed an extremely warm winter coat and astounding metabolism. These dogs could constantly exercise with minimal food. The Siberian husky is a direct descendant of the Chukchi dog and still has incredible strength, speed, and endurance.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working (AKC)

HEIGHT: 20 to 23.5 inches at the shoulder

WEIGHT: 35 to 60 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Dense, double coat that comes in a variety of colors; blue or gold eyes

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 12 to 15 years

 

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German Shepherd

German shepherd dog with long brown and black fur laying on sad with tongue hanging out

The Spruce / Kristie Lee

German shepherds have been employed as working dogs for hundreds of years for their strength and endurance. They originated in Germany as hunting and herding dogs. Due to their extreme athleticism and intelligence, today’s German shepherds often serve as guide dogs for the blind or service dogs, search dogs, and military and police dogs. Their sweet, loving personalities make them excellent family dogs, too.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Herding (AKC)

HEIGHT: 22 to 26 inches at the shoulder

WEIGHT: 60 to 100 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Coarse, medium-length double coat that comes in a variety of colors, primarily golden, tan, black, and brindle

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 9 to 13 years

 

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Bulldog

Bulldog with white and brown fur laying down with leash around neck

The Spruce / Kristie Lee

Don’t let their shorter stature fool you. Bulldogs are extremely strong, powerful dogs due to their history as fighting dogs. In 13th century England, bulldogs were used in a horrific sport known as bull-baiting. During these matches, they would fight much larger, more powerful bulls. These fighting bulldogs had aggressive, fierce personalities a far cry from today’s sweet, calm bulldogs. When bull-baiting was banned, bulldog breeders softened their tough personalities, producing the gentle, loving companion dogs that we know today.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Non-Sporting (AKC)

HEIGHT: 14 to 15 inches at the shoulder

WEIGHT: 40 to 50 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Short, fine, glossy coats that come in red, white, fawn, and fallow, among other color combinations and patterns

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 8 to 10 years

 

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Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard sitting in grass

Filip Micovic / Getty Images

When you think of an image of a Saint Bernard, you probably imagine a big, hairy dog with a wooden cask of brandy strapped around its neck on a snow-topped mountain. This imagery accurately depicts how these dogs worked to rescue lost travelers in the snowy Swiss Alps. The breed originated over 1,000 years ago. It had a keen sense of smell and brute strength that has saved thousands of people from snowy terrain. Today, Saint Bernards are typically companion dogs and make excellent service dogs due to their loyalty, affection, and fierce protection of their people.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working (AKC)

HEIGHT: 25.5 to 27.5 inches at the shoulder

WEIGHT: 130 to 180 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Coats can be short and smooth or long and silky and come in white with red, brown, or brindle markings, with a black “mask” across the face

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 8 to 10 years

 

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Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamute outdoors

LiuMeiLi / Getty Images

The Alaskan Malamute looks a lot like the much smaller Siberian husky; however, the indigenous people bred the two closely-related Arctic dogs for different needs. The sleeker Husky was bred more for its speed and endurance needed to pull sleds over long distances, while the Alaskan Malamute was developed for its sheer strength. Malamutes were sometimes used to pull sleds, and they also hunted polar bears, seals, and other powerful prey. It’s commonly believed that Alaskan Malamutes are wolf-dog hybrids, but today’s Malamutes are fully domesticated and make sweet, loving, and loyal companions.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working (AKC)

HEIGHT: 24 to 27 inches at the shoulder in males; 22 to 24 inches at the shoulder in females

WEIGHT: 75 to 100 (or more) pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Thick, double coats that come in many color variations, primarily white with black, sable, brown, and gray

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 10 to 12 years

 

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Doberman Pinscher

Doberman pinscher dog with black and brown fur laying on grass

The Spruce / Kristie Lee

Doberman pinschers, otherwise known as Dobies, first originated in Germany in the early 1900s. Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann developed the breed and aimed to produce a medium-sized companion dog that could also work as a fierce guard dog. The Doberman is a muscular, athletic dog with high endurance and a good personality. The U.S. Marine Corps selected the Doberman as its official dog during World War II for its athleticism and endurance. They are still used as security, military, and police dogs today.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working (AKC)

HEIGHT: 24 to 28 inches at the shoulder

WEIGHT: 65 to 100 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Short, sleek coats that come in red, blue, black, and fawn

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 10 to 12 years

 

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Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian ridgeback sitting in tall grass

Leo Dzialoszynski / Getty Images

Known for the distinctive “ridge” along their backs, Rhodesian ridgebacks originated more than 500 years ago when European immigrants brought domesticated dog breeds to South Africa and bred them with a native, ridgeback dog. This new crossbreed, the Rhodesian ridgeback, was trained to hunt large game, like lion and boar, in packs of four to six. Modern Rhodesians have retained their ancestors’ strength and endurance and are now companion dogs to very active, athletic families or guard dogs.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Hound (AKC)

HEIGHT: 24 to 27 inches at the shoulder

WEIGHT: 70 to 85 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Coats are short and smooth, coming in light wheaten to red wheaten colors

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 10 to 12 years

 

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Chow Chow

Black Chow Chow sitting outdoors

Hans Surfer / Getty Images

Despite their fluffy, teddy bear appearance, Chow Chows are compact, mighty dogs with a long history as aggressive guard dogs. Their DNA dates back to 206 B.C.E. when they were temple guard dogs in China and other parts of Asia. It’s mistakenly believed that modern-day Chow Chows have all retained their ancestors’ aggressive behaviors; most are gentle, loving family dogs. They are sturdy and strong-willed but are fiercely loyal, and most still enjoy a game of chase.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Non-Sporting (AKC)

HEIGHT: 17 to 20 inches at the shoulder

WEIGHT: 40 to 70 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Coats can be rough or smooth and come in black, blue, red, and cream colors

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 9 to 13 years

 

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Breeds to Avoid

If you’re looking for a dog that will help you haul or go ranging with you over long distances, you’re likely looking for larger, more muscular dogs. Dogs to avoid are usually smaller canines bred for lap sitting and prefer perching in your arms, like Shih TzusPugs, and Pekingese. These breeds tend to opt for lounging when given the opportunity.

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