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10 Real Jobs Your Dog Could Have

For these pups, being man's best friend is more like a side hustle, as their main gigs can include things like protecting their communities and providing emotional support to those in need.

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Fire DogLaurie Epstein/Courtesy National Geographic

Police dog

Not just a made-up career for the big-screen buddy comedy Turner and Hooch, canines really can be police dogs. In the new National Geographic book series Doggy Defenders, Tiger the Police Dog is one of the hard-working pups highlighted for his line of work. As part of his job, Tiger patrols Washington, D.C. landmarks to keep city residents and visitors safe. Police dogs don’t receive a salary, per se, however, according to the National Police Dog Foundation, their training can cost up to $15,000. However, their meals and medical expenses are often covered by the department for which they work. Looking for a pup of your own? Here’s how to adopt dogs deemed “too nice” to be TSA service dogs.

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Stella the Search DogLaurie Epstein/Courtesy National Geographic

Search dog

If your furry friend has the ability to sniff out trouble, they might have a career on their hands, like Stella the Search Dog. Stella is another canine highlighted in the Doggy Defenders series for her impressive line of work. Assisting the Virginia State Police, this bloodhound tracks scent trails, helps to save a lost hiker, and even takes to the skies in a helicopter—all in a day’s work. Similar to a police dog, search dogs aren’t likely to have a salary. And, according to the Search and Rescue Dogs of the United States group, acting as a Search and Rescue Dog handler is largely a volunteer commitment.

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Dolley the Fire DogLaurie Epstein/Courtesy National Geographic

Fire dog

If you picture a fire dog your first vision is probably of a Dalmatian—here’s where that stereotype originates. That’s not the case with Doggy Defenders: Dolley the Fire Dog, a Labrador Retriever working with Virginia’s Loudon Country Fire and Rescue Department. What’s a typical day like for Dolley? She helps firefighters detect the origin of a fire and what provoked it. She’s also excellent at educating kids on fire safety. It can take up to a year (or 800 hours of training) for a dog to complete the Federal Emergency Management Agency certification process.

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Willow The Therapy DogLaurie Epstein/Courtesy National Geographic

Therapy dog

Animals can provide a loving, calming effect on those in need. In Doggy Defenders, Willow the Therapy Dog puts her charms to work as she visits with hospital patients and snuggles up to children at a library pajama party. The American Kennel Club has six different therapy dog titles, depending on how many visits the pup has completed. This is another job that is considered volunteer work, as those who can benefit most from therapy dog services do not have a budget for them. While your furry friend may not qualify as an official therapy dog, almost all dogs have these superpowers that humans don’t.

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Truffle Hunting DogAleksandar Malivuk/Shutterstock

Truffle hunters

Traditionally pigs are known as the animal best suited to forage for truffles, but there are several breeds of dogs who also have a nose for the special stuff. Lagotto Romagnolos are the top breed in the truffle hunting category, but Springer spaniels, beagles, hounds, Labrador retrievers, and Belgian Malinois are also up for the task according to There’s no salary listed for a truffle hunting pup, but considering truffles can sell for $200 a pound, this is an enterprise boasting dollar signs—here’s the major reason that this luxe ingredient is so expensive.

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Purebred border collie herding a flock of sheep on a summer day.BIGANDT.COM/Shutterstock

Herding dogs

Herding dogs, generally German shepherds, Border collies, and Australian shepherds, are in demand on farms to assist in rounding up sheep, and even goats, says Modern Farmer. You may even find these canines employed by the Port Authority to help move geese and other birds along from the runways of airports. This isn’t a high-paying gig, but the PA will generally pay for training, as well as meals and shelter for the animals.

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Soldier with military working dog on blurred backgroundAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Military working dogs

They aren’t salaried military employees, but the canines that work with the armed forces are considered to be invaluable assets to the team and treated as such. Military Working Dogs (MWDs) receive specialized training and while they spend a great deal of time with their handlers and stay by their side when deployed, back in the States, the pups reside in designated quarters. says this is important because there are “simply too many risks in allowing them to stay anywhere but a controlled kennel area.” It’s also important to note that not any dog can become an MWD, so they are not likely to come from a shelter or civilian household.

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Cute service dog and blurred girl in wheelchair, view through doorAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Emergency Medical Response dogs

A dog can brighten someone’s mood, offer calm in a time of crisis, and serve as a much-needed friend providing a bevy of health benefits. But Emergency Medical Response Dogs (EMRs), also known as seizure alert dogs, can be lifesavers in more ways than one. These canines are trained to detect very subtle changes in a person’s breathing rate, odor, and behavior that suggest a seizure may be imminent. Once detected the dog will signal to its partner that they should consider moving to a safe place or finding help before the seizure strikes.

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dog actorStewart Cook/Shutterstock

Dog actor

Move over Meryl Streep, animals can easily be scene-stealers, too—and, yes, there’s a demand for doggie actors. There are designated agencies specializing in how to make your pooch perfect for the camera. The American Kennel Club notes that you’ll want to assess how well your dog handles stress and adjusts to new situations before diving into show biz. It isn’t all red carpets and glamour, after all; according to the Hollywood Reporter, an average day rate for a canine thespian is $400. While that’s nothing to bark at, these are signs your dog is secretly mad at you.

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museum guard dogKeystone-SDA/Shutterstock

Art guard dog

Dogs have long been a focus of many an artist’s work, but in some cases, they have actually guarded masterpieces as well. Back in 1933 New York’s Museum of Modern Art famously had a German Shepherd named Don roaming its exhibits to sniff out potential burglars looking to commit a heist. More recently Riley, a Weimaraner, was trained to guard works at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts in a different capacity—from insects! Riley’s job is to detect bugs that have the potential to severely damage these valuable items. Think you know your dog well enough to choose their career? Here are 30 things your pup wishes you knew.

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