Black service dog with a badge.

A nose that knows: Support and service dog jobs

Dogs are more than just man's best friend. Some dogs have specialized jobs in the workforce.

We all know dogs are great companions and friends — they become a special part of our family. The bond between a pet and their family is a strong one. But some dogs form bonds with humans in another way: In the workplace.

Companion dogs

When many of us think of a dog our mind immediately goes to man's best friend who can't wait for us to come home. They're always there to keep you and your family company. These dogs make great friends and sometimes have the potential to provide comforting therapy.

Service and support dogs

Dogs can assist us in many ways by helping people live more independently. There are autism dogs used for calming therapy, guide dogs for the blind or deaf, mobility assistance dogs, seizure alert dogs and even dogs who can detect peanut allergies.

Dogs may be trained with special skills to live and work with a disabled individual. These dogs are typically Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, standard poodles and German shepherds.

Detection dogs

Motivated by positive reinforcement, detection dogs are trained to use their senses for searching items like explosives, illegal drugs, firearms, wildlife scat, currency and blood. These dogs have an exceptional sense of smell and are even able to determine certain medical conditions such as cancer, low blood sugar and detect bed bugs.

  • Military ― War dogs assist in combat situations to detect bombs, track or scout. They have a 98% success rate in sniffing out bombs. They can also create a bond with their partner and reduce post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.
  • Law enforcement ― K-9's protect their handlers. They can be trained to chase down suspects, find food, humans and even money. These detection dogs have jobs at airports, police stations or schools.
  • Fire protection ― Arson dogs can detect accelerants used in arson. State Farm® has been providing support in arson dog training since 1993. The State Farm Arson Dog Program has put more than 400 dogs and their partners to work in 45 states, Washington, D.C. and three Canadian provinces.
  • Search and rescue ― These dogs are trained to find missing people in bad weather, avalanches, in the wilderness and underwater. In a water rescue situation, these dogs (usually Newfoundland dogs) are trained to use their mouth to bring the person to shore.
  • Cadaver – Used together with search and rescue dogs, cadaver dogs alert their handler to the scent of a decomposing body.
  • Truffles ― The Lagotto Romagnolo breed is trained to sniff out these rare mushrooms.

Therapy dogs

A therapy dog provides comfort to others. You'll sometimes see them walking the halls in nursing homes, hospitals, hospices and retirement homes. Their purpose is to provide comfort and possibly make treatment easier. They might also visit schools to teach students about dogs. Any dog can become a therapy dog as long as they have the right temperament and training.

Guard dogs

With their great sense of smell and hearing, guard dogs warn against danger to livestock and sometimes soldiers. Big or small dogs can ward off danger.

Herding breeds

Herding dogs are born for the job to work along with humans to keep livestock such as cattle, reindeer and sheep in check. Common breeds for this type of work are border collies and kelpies.

No matter if they're a companion dog or a working dog, they make our lives better just by being in it. If you're lucky enough to have a dog in your life, State Farm helps make it easier for pet owners to care for their furry family members with pet insurance through Trupanion®.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

Start a quote

Select a product to start a quote.

Find agents near
you or contact us

There’s one ready to offer personalized service to fit your specific needs.

Related articles

Drive safely with pets in cars

Is your pet free-ranging in the car? Better check local laws and crate or tether her up.

How pet health insurance is different from human health insurance

Discover the benefits of having pet health insurance.

Pet hazards

If you take a look around your space, you will likely find household items dangerous for dogs and things toxic to cats. Help protect your pet — before they get into trouble — with these tips.

Consider purchasing pet insurance

No pet owner wants the stress of a sick pet or unanticipated bills. Fortunately, pet medical insurance can help with those unexpected costs.