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Dog Breeds : Everything You Need To Know

Dog breeds are a mystery to many people today.

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It’s become very popular to get dogs from animal shelters or rescues. Many owners don’t know what kind of breed or mix their dog is and it isn’t important to them. Why should we care about dog breeds? Why have them at all?

Why dog breeds exist

Dog breeds originally started because people needed dogs to help them do different kinds of work. Wolves likely started following humans who hunted and hung around camps where humans had food and scavenged the leftovers. There are different theories about how wolves evolved into dogs but it seems to have occurred in multiple places and at different times. Dogs became domesticated more than just once. There is archaeological evidence in Siberia and in Belgium showing wolf-dogs over 25,000 years old with humans, yet, as far as we know, these were not the dogs that ultimately became our modern dogs. It was the wolves of southeast Asia and China, from about 17,000 years ago, that seem to be the direct ancestors of our modern dogs.

As they evolved from wolves, dogs continued to evolve, in close collaboration with humans. At first humans needed hunting companions and perhaps guard dogs. As agriculture developed some 12,000 or so years ago, humans needed dogs that could be helpful in settlements. They needed dogs who could herd animals and guard them without harming them. They needed farm dogs and later military dogs. Wherever people went, they took dogs with them and the dogs adapted. Whether your people lived in the mountains or desert, or you needed dogs to hunt big game or guard the farm, dogs became more specialized. From these beginnings all the breeds in the world today were developed, but they all had these original purposes.

What do breeds do?

Purebred dogs today are still very much bred and raised according to their original purposes. If you have a Beagle or even a Beagle mix, you may not think of  your dog as a mighty hunting machine but just below the surface he has 15,000 years’ worth of instincts from hunting with humans. It probably wouldn’t take him very long to figure out how to hunt and find a rabbit. The same is true with most other breeds.

Although we mostly keep our dogs as pets today, there are still lots of dogs who work and do a job, whether it’s full-time, on the weekend, or a few times a year. Even pets have those buried instincts. Fifty or 100 years ago, nearly every dog still had to work for his dinner, so it wasn’t that long ago that our dogs were still working hard.

Breeds today

In the United States today dog breeds are usually divided into seven categories by the American Kennel Club, the largest breed registry in the country:

  • Sporting (bird dogs)
  • Hound (hunting other game)
  • Working (guard dogs and other dogs who are trained for jobs)
  • Terrier (dogs that have the instinct to “go to ground” or hunt vermin and other animals underground)
  • Toy (small companions)
  • Non-Sporting (dogs that don’t fit in the other categories)
  • Herding (dogs that herd other animals)

The AKC also has a Miscellaneous group for breeds who are working on acceptance into one of the other groups. These breeds can be old or new in terms of history, but they are new in the United States and don’t yet have a lot of breeders or owners.

The AKC, in operation since 1884, currently recognizes 184 different breeds. Along with conformation dog shows, the AKC also conducts obedience, agility, rally, and other events each year, including field events, tracking, and other tests that allow owners to test their dogs’ instincts. In all, the AKC holds over 20,000 events each year, which draw more than 3 million entries annually. You can see some of the best AKC-registered dogs on display every year during the Westminster Kennel Club show, the National Dog Show (AKA the Kennel Club of Philadelphia Dog Show), and the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship Dog Show, all on television.

However, the AKC isn’t the only breed registry in the United States. The United Kennel Club , which has been around since 1898, recognizes some 300 breeds. They hold approximately 16,000 events each year, including many events for “the total dog.” UKC emphasizes performance activities. UKC lists the following categories for breeds:

  • Companion Dog
  • Guardian Dog
  • Gun Dog
  • Herding Dog
  • Northern Breed
  • Scenthound
  • Sighthound & Pariah
  • Terrier

You can see that these categories are slightly different from AKC’s groups. They split scenthounds and sighthounds, for example, while AKC combines these hounds into one Hound group. Also, the AKC does not have a separate group for the Northern (Spitz-type) breeds. There has often been discussion at AKC of rearranging their groups and making some new groups but this hasn’t occurred yet – mostly because no one can agree on anything. You should keep in mind that when AKC was first formed in the 19th century there was really only one group – the Sporting group – since dog shows were all about showing one’s best hunting dogs. Later another group was added to include other dogs – the Non-Sporting group, obviously. That group stuck, and it now includes everything that doesn’t clearly belong in one of the other groups. Groups have been added as needed over the years, or split. As AKC continues to add breeds, they will have to do something soon, you would suppose, to keep some of their groups from becoming too unwieldy.

Outside the United States

Many countries have their own kennel clubs to support purebred dogs and canine activities. In Canada the counterpart to the AKC is the Canadian Kennel Club. While the AKC does not have individual members (only kennel clubs can be members of the AKC), in Canada individuals can be members of the CKC. The CKC recognizes 175 breeds divided into the same seven groups as the AKC. However, the breeds are not exactly the same breeds as those recognized by the AKC. And the breed standards for breeds recognized by both clubs can be different.

In the United Kingdom dogs are registered with The Kennel Club. The Kennel Club has the distinction of being the first kennel club in the world, founded in 1873. It recognizes 213 breeds, divded into seven groups:

  • Hound
  • Working
  • Terrier
  • Pastoral (Herding)
  • Gundog
  • Utility (and all-around category)
  • Toy

Breeds in the UK are on display every March at Crufts in Birmingham – a dog show that lasts several days and which draws some 20,000 dogs from all over the world. To win Best In Show at Crufts (or to win anything at Crufts) is one of the highest honors in the dog world.

The Kennel Club in Britain was under attack several years ago by people who opposed purebred dog breeding. The film Pedigree Dogs Exposed, which was later criticized for its inaccuracies, was used to whip up public opinion against dog breeders and the Kennel Club. This led to several commissions and investigations. The Kennel Club made a number of changes to their breed standards and the way dogs are judged at shows following the feedback from the commissions.

Many countries in Europe and other places around the world have their own kennel club but they fall under a governing body called the FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale). FCI says that it is the largest canine organization in the world. It recognizes 343 breeds in 10 groups:

Group 1: Sheepdogs and Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs)
Group 2: Pinscher and Schnauzer – Molossoid and Swiss Mountain and Cattledogs
Group 3: Terriers
Group 4: Dachshunds
Group 5: Spitz and primitive types
Group 6: Scenthounds and related breeds
Group 7: Pointing Dogs
Group 8: Retrievers – Flushing Dogs – Water Dogs
Group 9: Companion and Toy Dogs
Group 10: Sighthounds

With so many breeds you can understand why the FCI would need to divide them into more specific groups.

Many dog lovers today are perfectly happy with a shelter dog but there are also many people who enjoy having a dog with specific instincts. It can be a good idea to choose a puppy knowing all about his parents, their health, how he was raised, and how he is likely to develop as he gets older. That’s why people buy a purebred dog today. If you want to participate in specific dog sports or activities, a purebred dog is often the best way to get involved.

We’ve compiled this here big list of dog breeds and sorted it into alphabetical order for your ultimate convenience. If you’d rather browse types of dogs by group, by size, by color, or any other kind of unique characteristic we’ve made that easy for you as well. Now get to it.

Dog Breeds A to Z

ABCD • E • F • G • H • I • J • K • L • M • N • O • P • Q • R • S • T • U • V • W • X • Y • Z


Afghan Hound
Airedale Terrier
Alaskan Malamute
American English Coonhound
American Eskimo Dog
American Foxhound
American Hairless Terrier
American Leopard Hound
American Staffordshire Terrier
American Water Spaniel
Anatolian Shepherd Dog
Appenzeller Sennehunde
Australian Cattle Dog
Australian Shepherd
Australian Terrier


Basset Fauve De Bretagne
Basset Hound
Bearded Collie
Bedlington Terrier
Belgian Laekenois
Belgian Malinois
Belgian Sheepdog
Belgian Tervuren
Berger Picard
Bernese Mountain Dog
Bichon Frise
Biewer Terrier
Black and Tan Coonhound
Black Russian Terrier
Bluetick Coonhound
Border Collie
Border Terrier
Boston Terrier
Bouvier Des Flandres
Boykin Spaniel
Bracco Italiano
Braque Du Bourbonnais
Brussels Griffon
Bull Terrier


Cairn Terrier
Canaan Dog
Cane Corso
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Catahoula Leopard Dog
Caucasian Ovcharka
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Central Asian Shepherd Dog
Cesky Terrier
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Chinese Crested
Chinese Shar-Pei
Chow Chow
Cirneco Dell’Etna
Clumber Spaniel
Cocker Spaniel
Coton De Tulear
Curly-Coated Retriever
Czechoslovakian Vlcak


Dandie Dinmont Terrier
Danish-Swedish Farmdog
Deutscher Wachtelhund
Doberman Pinscher
Dogo Argentino
Dogue De Bordeaux
Dresche Patrijshond
Dutch Shepherd


English Cocker Spaniel
English Foxhound
English Setter
English Springer Spaniel
English Toy Spaniel
Entlebucher Mountain Dog
Estrella Mountain Dog


Field Spaniel
Finnish Lapphund
Finnish Spitz
Flat-Coated Retriever
French Bulldog
French Spaniel


German Longhaired Pointer
German Pinscher
German Shepherd
German Shorthaired Pointer
German Spitz
German Wire-haired Pointer
Giant Schnauzer
Glen of Imaal Terrier
Golden Retriever
Gordon Setter
Great Dane
Great Pyrenees
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog




Ibizan Hound
Icelandic Sheepdog
Irish Red and White Setter
Irish Setter
Irish Terrier
Irish Water Spaniel
Irish Wolfhound
Italian Greyhound


Japanese Chin


Kai Ken
Karelian Bear Dog
Kerry Blue Terrier
Kishu Ken


Labrador Retriever
Lagoota Romagnolo
Lakeland Terrier
Lancashire Heeler
Lhasa Apso


Manchester Terrier
Miniature American Shepherd
Miniature Bull Terrier
Miniature Pinscher
Miniature Schnauzer


Neapolitan Mastiff
Nederlandse Kooikerhondje
Norfolk Terrier
Norwegian Buhund
Norwegian Elkhound
Norwegian Lundehund
Norwich Terrier
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever


Old English Sheepdog


Parson Russel Terrier
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Perro De Presa Canario
Peruvian Inca Orchid
Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen
Pharaoh Hound
Polish Lowland Sheepdog
Portuguese Podengo Pequeno
Portuguese Pointer
Portuguese Sheepdog
Portuguese Water Dog
Pyrenean Mastiff
Pyrenean Shepherd


Rafeiro Do Alentejo
Rat Terrier
Redbone Coonhound
Rhodesian Ridgeback
Russell Terrier
Russian Toy
Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka


Scottish Deerhound
Scottish Terrier
Sealyham Terrier
Shetland Sheepdog
Shiba Inu
Shih Tzu
Siberian Husky
Silky Terrier
Skye Terrier
Slovensky Cuvac
Small Munsterlander Pointer
Smooth Fox Terrier
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
Spanish Mastiff
Spanish Water Dog
Spinone Italiano
St. Bernard
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Standard Schnauzer
Sussex Spaniel
Swedish Lapphund
Swedish Vallhund


Thai Ridgeback
Tibetan Mastiff
Tibetan Spaniel
Tibetan Terrier
Toy Fox Terrier
Transylvanian Hound
Treeing Tennessee Brindle
Treeing Walker Coonhound




Welsh Springer Spaniel
Welsh Terrier
West Highland White Terrier
Wire Fox Terrier
Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
Wirehaired Vizsla
Working Kelpie




Yorkshire Terrier

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