Dog breeds are dogs with typical physical characteristics developed under controlled conditions by humans, which distinguish them from other members of their species. These characteristics involve traits such as structure, behaviour, coat colour and size. There are over 300 dog breeds worldwide
Kennel clubs maintain breed standards and record pedigrees in a breed registry (or studbook). They often serves as registries – list of adult purebred dogs and lists of litters of puppies born to purebred parents.Kennel clubs provide the recognition of distinct dog breeds, for example The American Kennel Club (AKC), Canadian Kennel Club, United Kennel Club, and others.
The American Kennel Club organizes dog breeds into 7 groups (plus a miscellaneous group), based on physical and temperamental characteristics and the purpose for which the breed was originally developed. The dog breed categories are: Herding group, Hound group, Non sporting group, Sporting group, Terrier group, Toy group and Working group.
The seven (07) dog breed categories
1. Herding group
As seen in the wild, herding is a natural instinct in dogs. Being good herders, this capacity of herding dogs has been used by humans to their (humans’) advantage. All breeds share the fabulous ability to control the movement of other animals. A remarkable example is the low-set Corgi that can drive a herd of cows many times its size to pasture by leaping and nipping at their heels.
Herding dogs actively round up cattle and sheep with frantic running, eye contact and aggressive barking. Some of the more intelligent dog breeds belong to this group notably the German shepherd dog, perhaps most famous for its police work and the Border collies,arguably the most intelligent of all breeds.
The diversity in morphology and temperament among herding dog breeds has much to do with the different demands placed on the dogs in the course of their work.
The vast majority of Herding dogs, as household pets, never cross paths with a farm animal. Nevertheless, the instinct to herd in some of them can be strong, as many of these dogs gently herd their owners, especially the children of the family.
In general, these intelligent dogs make excellent companions and respond beautifully to training exercises. They require owners who are skilled at training and willing to give them "work" that rewards their instincts.
Other dog breeds that belong to this group include Shetland sheepdog, Belgian Malinois, Australian cattledog, and many others. For more information about dog breeds of the herding group, visit ourarticle about herding dogs.
2. Hound group
Most hounds share the common ancestral trait of being used independently for their humans, who usually followed on foot or on horseback as the hounds chased down the prey. The group informally consists of scent hounds - dogs that hunt by tracking a scent and sight hounds - who spot their game and run it down.
Breeds in the Hound Group vary greatly in size, shape and coat as a result, generalizations about hounds are hard to come by. Hounds such as the beagle are known for their stamina, acute sense of smell, and baying bark. There are Pharaoh Hounds, Norwegian Elkhounds, Afghans and Basenjis among others. For more information about hounds (the hound group), visit this article that talks exclusively about them.
3. Non sporting group
The Non-Sporting Group comprises literally of every other breed that is neither a hound, terrier, sporting, toy working nor a herd dog, resulting in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, hair, function and history.
Non-sporting dogs are thus a diverse group. Here are sturdy animals with as different personalities and appearances as the Chow Chow, Dalmatian, Bulldog, French Bulldog, and Keeshond. Talk about differences in size, coat, personality and overall appearance.
American Eskimo Dog French Bulldog , English Bulldog
Further information about the non-sporting dogs is given an article that talks only about the non-sporting group of breeds.
4. The Sporting group
Sporting dogs were originally used by hunters i.e. they usually helped hunters in their hunting of birds; of that sporting dogs have very energetic hunting abilities (in water and on a field setting) and they continue to participate in these activities (hunting and other field activities).Being naturally active and alert, Sporting dogs make likeable, well-rounded companions that require regular exercise.
In this group are Pointers, Setters, Spaniels and Retrievers. Generally, pointers’ and setters’ duty is to point and mark game; spaniels’ to flush game; and retrievers’ to recover the dead and wounded game. There are Labrador Retrievers, German Shorthaired pointer, English Springer spaniel, Irish setter among many others. For more information specific to the sporting group, visit our article on sporting dogs
5. Terrier group
This group comprises one particular breed of dog, the terrier, although other types may be included. Originally kept to hunt vermin especially rats, weasels, otters, mice and rabbits, some terriers were designed to go down the holes of the European fox in order to chase the animal out for the hunter. With a primary task to hunt and kill (from origin), terriers have little tolerance for other animals (dogs inclusive).
Terriers have a distinctive personality, being energetic and feisty dogs, which sizes ranging from fairly small – as in Norfolk terrier to the grand Airedale Terrier. In general, they make likable pets, but their owners are required to be determined in their dog’s lively characters. Dogs in this group include Miniature Schnauzer, West Highland white terrier, Bull Terrier, Jack Russell Terrieramong many others.
6. Toy group
Toy dog breeds are diminutive in size are bred for one purpose: to be companions for (their) humans, to express pure delight. Their size though doesn’t make toy dogs less efficient (notably the barking of an angry Chihuahua), it also makes them ideal for city dweller and for people without much living space. Toy dogs are remarkable lap warmers on freezing nights.
Dog breeds of this group include: Yorkshire terrier, Cavalier king Charles spaniel, Shih Tzu, Pomeranian, Havaneseand many others. More about toy dogs on our post exclusively about the toy group.
7. The Working Group
The uses and appearances of dog breeds in this group vary. Nonetheless most are powerful and intelligent performing jobs like performing water rescues, guarding property and various other tasks, for their people. They are capable animals and very are quick to learn. These dogs make solid companions.
Because of their dimensions and strength however, many working dogs are unsuitable as pets for average families. These dogs are mostly used as working farm animals and draft animals and also serve to guard homes and livestock. Their size too imply that these dogs must be properly trained.
Breeds that belong to this group include Rottweiler, Boxer, Siberian Husky, Doberman Pinscher, English mastiff and others. More about these breeds in our post about working dogs
From here, we are going to be talking about the breed groups in greater detail, one at a time. The next article starts with the sporting group.