The 7 Different Dog Breed Groups

The American Kennel Club (AKC) is an established United States registry of dog pedigrees. They provide a list of over 190 dog breeds and varieties. Although this number may seem daunting, the club divides the list up into seven different groups.

Originally, the American Kennel Club only registered dogs as either Sporting or Non-Sporting. Over time, these groups were broken down more specifically, leaving the Non-Sporting group to consist of all the leftover breeds that didn’t fit in the other groups. As a result, the Non-Sporting group is extremely diverse, comprised of dogs of all sizes, functions, hair, and history. The other groups are primarily homogeneous, each consisting of dogs that look alike and serve a similar function. Although some of these groups are easily identifiable based on their names, others can be a bit more convoluted. Let’s take an in-depth look into each of the seven groups.

1. The Terrier Group

Members of the Terrier Group are often described as “energetic and feisty,” known to be “eager for a spirited argument.” Often, this is the result of a Terrier’s upbringing, as they are frequently bred to hunt and kill vermin on farms. The Terrier’s size can range, as some can be very small–namely the Norfolk, Cairn, and West Highland breeds. Contrarily, some Terriers, such as the Airedale Terrier can be much larger. The Terrier does make an excellent pet; however, if you are thinking of getting one it is important that you are determined to proper training. Terriers can often be stubborn and “off-the-wall,” and require a special grooming process. If you are able to meet these needs, the Terrier will prove an excellent lovable companion!

2. The Toy Group

The Toy Group, better known as toy dogs, has been around for hundreds of years. Everyone loves a cute puppy, and these dogs are bred for that exact purpose–to garner the love of a human companion. Many of these toy dogs were originally much larger and have been bred to a smaller size by breeders to obtain the toy-like size. Thus, many of them still resemble their much larger cousins in appearance. Toy dogs are particularly appealing to dog lovers with limited space, such as those living in a city or apartment building. Toy dogs are very sociable, intelligent, and energetic, making for perfect sidekicks.

3. The Working Group

The third group is known as the Working Group. Members of this group are highly intelligent, strong, and alert. These impressive characteristics allow them to easily assist humans in a variety of jobs. Working dogs can guard your property, pull a sled, and even perform water rescues! Not surprisingly to many, Doberman Pinschers, Siberian Huskies and Great Danes are all members of this Working Group. Since they are so large and inherently protective, they serve as excellent best friends as well. However, they do need to be properly trained and thus may not be suitable for a first-time dog owner.

4. The Sporting Group

Another group is known as the Sporting Group, which holds a great history. This breed was first developed alongside the invention of the gun, as an assistant to hunters. The Sporting Group is split into four different categories: spaniels, pointers, retrievers, and setters. These breeds are can easily navigate in water and the woods, allowing them to become prized assets for hunters. Furthermore, some of them even have weather-resistant coats. As long as these dogs get regular exercise, they will prove to be loyal and hardworking assistants.

5. The Non-Sporting Group

The counterpart to the Sporting Group is known as the Non-Sporting Group, which as mentioned early, is an incredibly diverse mix. There are really no sweeping characteristics or generalizations about this group, as their differences can be great. For example, the fluffy, stout, Chow Chow is part of the Non-Sporting Group, alongside the much less hairy French Bulldog. About the only thing these dogs have in common is their ability to make a good watchdog and house dog. Other well-known dogs in this group are the Dalmatian, Poodle and Lhasa Apso.

6. The Hound Group

The next group is known as the Hound Group, which was originally part of the sporting group due to their hunting nature. Many dogs in the Hound Group have an acute sense of smell, and use it to track down a trail. Others have incredible stamina, and can just keep on running. Aside from these two general characteristics, the Hound Group is very diverse–Pharoah, Norwegian, Afghans, and Beagles are all common hound examples.

7. The Herding Group

Lastly, but surely not least, is the Herding Group–once part of the Working Group. All dog breeds in this group have one main trait in common, and inherent ability to control how other animals move. More specifically, these dogs are used to herd and protect livestock, such as sheep. However, they also serve other functions, with breeds like the German Shepherd serving as police dogs. Overall, these dogs are very intelligent and make for excellent best friends!

Choosing A Dog Based On It’s Breed

Next time you’re looking to get a dog, you know where to go for information on what breed to get. Simply determine the breed and group of your potential pup, and take a look above at what that entails. This way, there are no surprises if you do decide to add a new, lovable family member.

Thank you to for all of the pictures.