American Kennel Club / The Joy of Purpose
January 15

American Kennel Club / The Joy of Purpose

Dogs are incredibly diverse in size, appearance, energy levels, and temperament, and it’s no accident. Dogs have been purpose-bred for generations to highlight this diversity. In times past, people relied on dogs to perform jobs and tasks. Different breeds were developed specifically to do for those working purposes. Today, most of our dogs spend a lot of time hanging out with their families. But, breeders and breed clubs have ensured that the dogs laying in our living rooms still have the instinct, drive, and ability to perform the work of their ancestors.

Herding dog moving sheep across fields, or a Terrier going to ground in search of prey are beautiful sights to behold. Witnessing a dog do what they were bred to do, and what comes to instinctively to them, is a great joy that every dog owner should get to experience. Giving your dog the opportunity to connect with their instincts is easier than you might think. There are a variety of sports and activities that are designed to channel your dog’s drive and innate talents, and help them reawaken those purpose-bred instincts.


The AKC Herding Program offers both tests and trials, wherein dogs demonstrate their ability to move, herd, and control livestock like ducks, sheep, or cattle. In trials, herding dogs are competitively scored against one another. Only certain eligible breeds are permitted to participate in AKC herding, but “urban herding” events like triebball often welcome all dogs.

Farm Dog

The non-competitive Farm Dog Certified Test is open to all breeds of dogs. The Farm Dog test assesses a dog’s aptitude as a working farm dog by looking for self-control, confidence, and trust in the handler in a variety of situations and setups that mimic a working farm environment. However, herding is not involved in the test.


Earthdog trials are specifically designed for terriers and Dachshunds to simulate the go-to ground tendencies of these vermin-seeking dogs. Dogs traverse simulated underground tunnels to find rats. This tests dogs on their natural subterranean hunting instincts. Also, to keep the rats safe from those tenacious terriers, they are kept in cages.



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