The Animal Welfare Science of Working Dogs

  • Key finding:

    This article reviews the last decade of animal welfare science relating to working dogs through the lens of modern ethics, human interaction, and the five domains of animal welfare: nutrition, environment, behavioral interaction, physical health, and mental state. “Our scientific understanding of animal welfare has evolved dramatically over the past decade,” says Dr. Mia Cobb. “We no longer view good animal welfare as simply as the absence of harm. Today, we must prioritize animals’ mental and physical needs. This is especially important when it comes to working dogs and assuring our ongoing relationship as co-workers. Though we have made great strides in recent years in understanding working dogs, there remain many opportunities for collaborative research, innovation and improvement across disciplines as diverse as psychology, physiology and genetics. Greater research investment will lead to advances in working dog performance, program efficiency, staff satisfaction, social, and economic benefits. Most importantly, it will provide the working dogs involved with a good life that is worth living.”

Links to Open Access Publications or DOI:


Cobb ML, Otto CM and Fine AH (2021) The Animal Welfare Science of Working Dogs: Current Perspectives on Recent Advances and Future Directions. Front. Vet. Sci. 8:666898. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2021.666898