Working and Guard Dogs


Working Dog Definition

A working dog is defined by the Working Dog Alliance[1] as ‘a domestic dog kept for non-companion purposes that works in a private industry, government, assistance or sporting context’.

The Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) recommends that a dog being specifically sold for its capacity to perform a working duty as its primary role; for example a security dog, search and rescue dog, detection dog, assistance dog, service dog, etc. should not be advertised for sale in the pet section of a classified advertising website.

Although these dogs may, in some circumstances, also live as pets, PAAG does not see general pet advertising sites as an appropriate platform to rehome dogs for such specific working purposes and feels that this should be undertaken in a more specialised environment.

Advertising Exemptions

Those dogs not included in the definition are those whose primary role is that of a companion but which may from time to time fulfil a working function, such as Hunt, Point and Retrieve (HPR) breeds and terriers who may undertake seasonal outdoor social activities with their owners as a hobby (e.g. gun dogs).

Similarly, puppies of working breeds or “working lines” that are being advertised as suitable family pets are not included.

Adverts for retired working dogs described as looked for a family home where they can live out their remaining years as pets are acceptable.

Guard Dog/Security Dog Definition

A guard dog is defined by the Guard Dog Act 1975[2] as ‘a dog which is being used to protect premises; property kept on the premises; or a person guarding the premises or property’.

Often a dog with specialised training, such dogs need to be handled by a security dog handler. Such dogs should never be advertised in a pet section, and these adverts should be removed immediately.

In a letter to websites dated 12 February 2014, the Animal Welfare Minister at that time, Lord de Mauley, noted:

“Advertisements using the term ‘guard dog’ may not always be referring to what we understand as per the definition above. In many cases, owners are simply indicating that a dog is a good ‘watchdog’ and may bark when visitors approach the home. However, there will be some adverts that are using the term in a way that is inappropriate for advertisement in a pet section, or at all.”

In cases where a dog is described as a guard dog in an advert, websites should refer to the key word/term list supplied by PAAG. The presence of any of these key words/terms in an advert where the words ‘guarding’ or ‘guard dog’ are also included justify its removal. 


Security dogs should not be advertised for sale on classified advertising websites. This recommendation is supported by the National Association of Security Dog Users.

Dogs advertised specifically for working should either be removed completely from the site or published in a separate working dog section in order to distinguish them from family pets.


Approved by: All PAAG Member                   

Date: Wednesday 26th June 2019