Dog breeds and categories

Did you know that there are Seven categories of dog breeds? and as a dog owner or dog lover, you may wonder “why is it important to understand these groups”? The answer to this question is understanding these different groups will help us understand the genetics of different dog breeds, the reason for breeding and training them to perform certain activities. Understanding these different groups will also help us understand what are the similarities and differences between different breeds of dogs. Understanding these different groups will also help us understand the behavior and temperament of each group of dogs.

Dog breeds

Different types of dogs with different coat, color and size.

As a dog lover we all know that there are a variety of dog breeds worldwide, we believe that there are over 300 different dog breeds. There are few dog breeds like German Shepherd, Labrador, Doberman and Golden Retriever who are amongst the most popular dog breeds in almost every country. Now if we compare these popular dog breeds, they are different from each other in terms of physical appearance, coat, color, intelligence, and energy level. Historically, based on the differences in physical appearance and level of intelligence dogs supported mankind in different activities e.g. hunting, herding and guarding, etc. 

Almost every country in the world has its kennel club and each kennel club acts as a governing body for various canine activities which include dog shows, agility and working trials, etc. These kennel clubs have grouped the dog breeds based on their physical appearance, their ability to perform a certain task, energy level and the purpose for which they were bred. Most Kennel clubs like the AKC (American Kennel Club), The Kennel Club (it is the official kennel club of UK) have grouped dogs into seven main categories. These seven common categories are Sporting, Hound, Working, Herding (Pastoral group), Terrier, Toy and Non-Sporting (Utility group).

Let’s understand the different categories of dog breeds.

Sporting Dog Breed Group: –

Historically bred to hunt animals and birds, Sporting Dogs are also known as hunting dogs or gun dogs. Even today, in certain places where hunting is still legal, they use these dogs as hunting companions. Sporting dogs are not independent hunters, this means they retrieve or bring back the animals or birds that are shot down by their hunting masters.

These dogs are agile, intelligent and love to please their owners, which made them ideal for hunting. Even though these dogs were used for hunting, almost all the dogs from this group have a good temperament. These dogs have a good temperament, and their smart nature makes them an ideal pet. Today these dogs are the most popular pets worldwide. This category of dogs is recruited as helper dogs for disabled, therapy dogs, or as a sniffer by police or military.

There are four most popular breeds of sporting dogs: – Retriever, Spaniels, Pointers and Setters. Below are a few dog breeds from each of these types. 

Retriever – Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Curly Coated Retriever, and Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

Spaniel – Cocker Spaniel, American Water Spaniel, English Cocker Spaniel, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Field Spaniel, Papillion, Boykin Spaniel, Brittany, Clumber Spaniel, Sussex Spaniel, and English Springer Spaniel.

Pointer – German Shorthaired Pointer, English Pointer, and Vizsla.

Setter – Irish Setter, English Setter, Gordon Setter, and Irish Red and White Setter.

Golden Retriever – A Sporting Dog.

Hound Dog Breed Group: –

Hounds are the real hunting dogs as they can independently hunt. Hounds come in a variety of shapes and sizes like a Dachshund who may look like a toy dog and a Greyhound who is a large breed dog. Some hounds have excellent scenting sense, while other hounds are good runners with an excellent speed which makes them an ideal hunting dog. In today’s era when hunting is not so popular worldwide, these dogs have become popular home pets. Dogs like Beagle and Dachshund are amongst the most popular pet dogs. Law enforcement agencies use dogs like Foxhound and Bloodhound to track criminals or missing people as these dogs have strong scenting sense. Since hounds are good runners, there are few places where Greyhounds races are organized. 

Below is the list of few popular hound dogs.

American Foxhound, English Foxhound, Basenji, Afghan Hound, Basset Hound, Beagle, Dachshund, Bloodhound, Mudhol Hound, Pharaoh Hound, Saluki, Greyhound, and Rhodesian Ridgeback. 

Below are the few dogs from the hound group, however they are not that popular worldwide.

Coonhound, Borzoi, Whippet, Scottish Deerhound, Plott, and Otterhound. 

Beagle a dog from hound group.

Working Dog Breed Group

As the name suggests, this group consists of working dogs bred for guarding search and rescue, pulling carts and sleds. These dogs are strong, agile, intelligent, courageous, and protective of their owner. Popular dogs like the Doberman, Siberian Husky, Rottweiler, and Great Dane are amongst the most popular working line dogs. Since the working line dogs are smart and courageous, they make a good companion if they are trained and socialized well. These dogs have a strong personality, hence they are not recommended for first-time dog owners. Since these dogs are Agile, intelligent and strong, they are used by Military and Police. 

Below is the list of some popular Working Dogs. 

Boxer, Bull Mastiff, Doberman, Akita (Utility or non-sporting group in Kennel Club, UK), Rottweiler, English Mastiff, Siberian Husky, Samoyed, Saint Bernard, New Foundland, Neapolitan Mastiff, Great Dane, Swiss Mountain Dog, Cane Corso, German Pinscher, and Dogo Argentino.

Below is the list of few working dogs, which may not be common worldwide. 

Leonberger, Portuguese Waterdog, Chinook and Boerboel.

Siberian Huskies pulling Sled – Working Dog Group

 Herding Dog Breed Group (Pastoral Dog Group)

These dogs are mostly shepherd dogs, historically bred to guard sheep and cattle against wild animals. These dogs are intelligent, protective and highly energetic, which makes them ideal for herding. The herding dogs usually have a double coat which protects them in harsh weather. German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois are the most popular breeds from the herding group. Based on their physical appearance, agility, stamina, and intelligence, they have become an ideal Military or a Police dog. We also consider dogs like German Shepherd and Border collie are also to be a good family dog.

Let’s check out the few popular dogs from the Herding Dog group

Border Collie, Belgian Shepherd Dog (Belgian Malinois), Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Shepherd, German Shepherd, and Welsh Corgi.

Below are the few least popular dogs from the Herding Dog group  

Dutch Sheepdog, Iceland Sheepdog, Norwegian Buhund, Polish Tetra Sheepdog, Portuguese Sheepdog, Lancashire Heeler, and Old English Sheepdog.

A Border Collie Dog herding Lambs.

Terrier Dog Breed Group:-

Terriers are mainly small and medium-sized but courageous dogs. They were originally bred to dig the ground and hunt Vermin, larger Rodents, Otters, Fox and other small animals. Terrier dogs come in all shapes and size, even the smallest terrier dog is brave enough to fight a large or giant breed dog. Terrier dogs are popular pet dogs, however, they are not recommended for a first-time owner. Pitbull Terrier and Bull Terrier are common terrier dog breeds who have a reputation of strong bite. 

Below are some popular dogs from this group.

Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and Jack Russell Terrier.

Below are some less popular Terrier dogs.

Australian Terrier, Border Terrier, Lakeland Terrier, Irish Terrier, and Welsh Terrier.

Bull Terrier dogs, members of Terrier Dog Group

Toy Dog Breed Group: –

Toy dogs are the smallest breed of dogs, and they can vary in size and structure. These breeds are classified as small, or miniature dog breeds. Historically, these dogs were bred as Status symbol. Few toy breeds dogs are a smaller version of bigger dogs. Many people also call them a lap dog because of the small size they can easily sit on their owner’s lap.

Some Common Toy dog breeds: – Pomeranian, Maltese, Chihuahua, Yorkshire Terrier, and Pekingese.

Some lesser-known Toy dog breeds: – Affenpinscher, Australian Silky Terrier, Bichon Frise, English Toy Terrier, Japanese Chin, Italian Greyhound, Lowchen (Little Lion Dog), Shih tzu and Bolognese.

A Shih TZU Dog from the Toy breed Dog Group.

Non-Sporting (Utility group): –

Dogs from this group are generic dogs, these dogs do not fit in working, herding, hound or terrier groups hence they are mapped under the Utility group. Non-Sporting dogs comprise a variety of breeds with varying sizes, personalities, coats, and overall appearance. The most common Non-sporting Dogs are Poodle, Bulldog, Dalmatian, Chow Chow, Boston Terrier, American Eskimo Dog, Shar- Pei, French Bulldog, and Lhasa Apso. The less popular Dog breeds are Bichon Frise, Finnish Spitz, Keeshond, Lowchen, Norwegian Lundehund, Shiba Inu, Tibetian Terrier, Tibetian Spaniel, Xoloitzcuintli, and Schipperke.

A Chow Chow Dog from the Non-Sporting or the Utility Dog breed group

Understanding these categories and breeds falling under these categories can make us understand the personality and traits of our fur buddy. Especially for those who want to get a dog, knowing about all this helps them choose the right one for them. Once we know these different dog groups, it also becomes easy for us to understand why each dog breed behaves differently.

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