A Border Collie monitors the kids as they play outside, herding them back when they stray. A Pug nestles into its owner’s lap as they catch a movie on cable. A Scottish Terrier chases the mice out of the garage. A Doberman Pinscher keeps a watchful eye as you take the trash out at night. There are about 400 recognized dog breeds in the world, and each possesses a unique personality. Though, one thing never changes: all dogs are man’s best friend.
From loyal companions to fierce protectors, the various dog breeds we’ve come to know and love have a significant impact on our lives.
What Are Dog Breeds?
Dog breeds are the different classifications of various dog types that have been developed over the years. Some were created to perform particular tasks, while others were bred for particular aesthetic traits. People have been breeding dogs since prehistoric times. Though, it wasn’t until the 1800s that the dog breeding we know today began.
Research has shown that dogs were initially adopted into primitive communities as guardians. In exchange for the people’s food, they would bark loudly to alert the humans of impending danger. Dogs became essential members of many communities as loyal watchdogs.
Eventually, humans began to realize dogs’ true potential, employing them for more tasks like chasing vermin and herding livestock. When they realized they could selectively breed dogs and even train them to perform tasks more efficiently, breeding practices began to emerge — as did many different types of dogs.
Guarding, hunting, and herding were likely the first three major jobs assigned to the emerging dog breeds. Moving forward, humans began to fine-tune the breeds for specific tasks. For example, within the hunting breed group, there are dogs that actually catch prey and those that only retrieve prey after their owner has hit their mark.
During the 19th century, breeding practices as we know them today started to take shape. Smaller, attractive dogs and sleek, handsome hunting dogs were bred for the aristocracy. Clever, pack-oriented dogs were developed for livestock farmers. Curious, tenacious ratting dogs were bred for nearly every household to chase away vermin.
While purebred dog breeds remain throughout the world as prominent, proud national figures and loyal companions, there are also an inordinate amount of mixed-breed dogs. Sometimes called mutts, many of these dogs aren’t categorized into specific breeds, but they’re just as lovable, loyal, and amazing as all the pure breeds out there.
How Many Dog Breeds Are There?
There are around 400 dog breeds recognized worldwide by various kennel clubs. Here in the States, the American Kennel Club (AKC) only recognizes 197 of them. Kennel clubs like the AKC register, define, and oversee the showing of each dog breed. They also create breed standards, which describe the ideal characteristics of each canine.
What Types of Dog Breed Groups Are There?
There are seven distinct dog breed groups in the United States — let’s take a brief look at each one.
All of the dog breeds in the Hound Group were explicitly bred to pursue and catch warm-blooded game. They’re typically sleek, powerfully-built, swift, intelligent, and focused dogs. Dog breeds in the Hound Group have strong prey drives, wicked senses of smell, and are intensely hard-working.
Some common Hound Group dog breeds are:
- Basset Hound
Some less common Hound Group dog breeds are:
- Irish Wolfhound
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
- Treeing Walker Coonhound
Terriers are bold, short-legged, instinctual dogs that were initially bred for digging up and chasing away vermin like rats. Today, most Terrier Group dog breeds make excellent family dogs and loving companions. However, they’re definitely still prone to giving chase after rats and other small critters.
Some common Terrier Group dog breeds are:
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Bull Terrier
- American Staffordshire Terrier
Some less common Terrier Group dog breeds are:
- Wire Fox Terrier
- Bedlington Terrier
- Lakeland Terrier
The Working Group’s dog breeds are widely diverse in appearance and task orientation, but they’re all impressive overachievers. Working dogs are thought to be some of the most ancient breeds in the world. They were bred and trained to pull sleds, guard livestock, and serve as watchdogs for their families. Some breeds are still used in various fields to this day!
Some common Working Group dog breeds are:
- Great Dane
Some less common Working Group dog breeds are:
- Tibetan Mastiff
- Giant Schnauzer
Sporting Group dog breeds were bred for retrieving feathered game — some from the water (Labradors) and some from grassy marshland (Spaniels). Others, like the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, would play a role in luring the game closer to their hunting owners. Most Sporting Group dogs have water-repellent coats, and many have webbed toes.
Some common Sporting Group dog breeds are:
- Golden Retriever
- English Springer Spaniel
- Irish Setter
Some less common Sporting Group dog breeds are:
- German Wirehaired Pointer
- Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
- Spinone Italiano
The Non-Sporting Group is comprised of a hodgepodge assortment of dog breeds. Some have historically performed specific tasks, while others have been lovable companions. Today, most Non-Sporting Group dogs are known as loyal, cuddly, and affectionate companions and family dogs.
Some common Non-Sporting Group dog breeds are:
- French Bulldog
- Chow Chow
Some less common Non-Sporting Group dog breeds are:
- Lhasa Apso
- Shiba Inu
Herding Group dog breeds are intelligent, pack-oriented, dutiful dogs originally bred to herd and guard livestock. You can still find many Herding Group dogs working on farms throughout the world. But you’ll also find them as popular family dogs known for being protective over the children.
Some common Herding Group dog breeds are:
- Border Collie
- Australian Shepherd
- Old English Sheepdog
Some less common Herding Group dog breeds are:
- Swedish Vallhund
- Cardigan Welsh Corgi
- Belgian Tervuren
What is the Most Common Dog Breed?
For the 30th year running, the Labrador Retriever was the most popular dog in America in 2020. There’s something about their sociable nature, sense of family loyalty, slobbery kisses, and fetching abilities that enthralls and delights almost everyone, dog lover or not!
What is the Rarest Dog Breed?
There are many incredibly rare breeds, but in recent years the English Foxhound has been named the rarest breed in America. The rarest breed in the world changes year to year, but some of the rarest over the past decade have been the Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless Dog) and the Norwegian Lundehund.
Which Dog Breed is Right for You?
Choosing the right dog breed for yourself is a personal decision — no one can tell you which breed is right for you! The thing is, choosing a dog takes a lot more than finding the cutest one. When you’re looking at dogs, there’s a lot you’ll need to consider about whether you can adequately care for them.
If you’re an athletic morning person with a yard and a regular schedule, perhaps a German Shepherd could be right for you. They make excellent running companions, need outdoor space to play and patrol, and do well with routine.
However, if you’re an athletic morning person who lives in an apartment and is constantly busy, a large dog like a German Shepherd might not work out for your lifestyle. They would be fun to run with, but you likely don’t have the time or space most German Shepherds need to thrive. In this case, a couch-potato like a Bulldog or a Pug might suit your on-the-go schedule better.
But then what if you have access to a nearby dog park and can afford pet sitting when you’re busy? Then maybe you CAN make it work with a German Shepherd in an apartment! The “right dog” is subjective for everyone. Take your time making this decision — it’s a significant and impactful one for both you and your pooch. Once you find that perfect pooch for you, show them some love with some CBD soft chews for dogs!
Final Thoughts – Dog Breeds
Like humans, each dog is unique, beautiful, and remarkable. Dog breed standards help us categorize the fantastic qualities found across the hundreds of different breeds in the world. Whichever dog you have or will eventually have, take time to look into their breed’s history — it will amaze you and may even explain some of your pet’s quirks!
If you want to learn more about your dog breed or one you’re looking into, be sure to check out our blog. We feature different breeds and go in-depth on their history, care, personalities, and much more. Plus, we offer helpful tips for grooming, socialization, nutrition, and phobia mitigation.