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Dog breeds: categories set by the AKC

Updated on September 25, 2012

Rottweilers are working breed dogs

If you have ever watched world famous dog shows you may be familiar with terms such as sporting or herding groups. These are dog breed categories set by the American Kennel Club so to facilitate competitions. These categories are really simply groups of dogs that were bred with a specific function in mind. Currently there are seven groups: the sporting group, the hound group, the working group, the herding group, the terrier group the toy group the non sporting group.

Following is a brief overview of each group and what the breed was designed for.

The Sporting Group


  • Pointers
  • Retrievers
  • Setters
  • Spaniels

These dogs were bred to work with hunters. They specifically locate, flush out and retrieve game mainly focusing on birds. Most dogs of the sporting group are very high energy dogs, very active and alert. They therefore require plenty of exercise, outdoor activities and stimulation.Generally, the purer the blood line the more the dog will exhibit these breed characteristics

The Hound Group


  • Pharaoh Hounds
  • Norwegian Elkhounds
  • Dachshund
  • Afghans
  • Beagles

These dog breeds were used for using their nose to help hunters mainly focusing on small mammals. It is believed that bloodhounds in particular exhibit wrinkles near their nose to retain scents better and that their ears were created long so to buffer noises and keep them focused on the scent. Whereas Dachshunds were created short so to stay closer to the ground and sniff. Some hounds are known to be very vocal.

The Working Group


  • Akita
  • Boxer
  • Doberman
  • Great Dane
  • Rottweiler
  • Saint Bernard
  • Siberian Husky

These are just a few members of the many composing the working group. A time came years ago, where humans began to domesticate animals therefore there was a need to train dogs to guard their animals. Other dogs helped around the farm to help pulling carts,herding or simply guarding cattle. Today, these intelligent dogs require a job to do in order to feel fulfilled and to drain that excessive energy they were trained to use in the past.

The Herding Group


  • German Shepherd
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Border Collie
  • Corgi
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Old English Sheepdog

Formerly part of the working group the herding group is the latest AKC addition. These breeds were trained to herd sheep and cows often by nipping at the their feet, by barking at them or by simply staring. Of course, these are all high energy dogs that need plenty or exercise and stimulation, something that your back yard solely cannot provide.

The Terrier Group


  • Airedale Terrier
  • Border Terrier
  • Scottish Terrier
  • American Staffordshire Stafforshdire Bull Terrier and Bull Terrier
  • Welsh Terrier
  • Pit Bull Terrier

The terrier's group main focus is hunting for rodents and vermin, thus their name ''terrier'' derives from the word ''terra'' meaning earth. In other words, this breed group worked by digging to catch these prey.These dogs are generally not good with other pets because of their strong prey drives. Terrier reeds require lots of exercise, they thrive by learning tricks and enjoy playing games. The Pitbull terriers were bred as well as working dogs and they may enjoy pulling carts.

The Toy Group


  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Chihuahua
  • Chinese Crested
  • Italian Greyhound
  • Maltese
  • Pekingese
  • Pomeranian
  • Poodle
  • Pug
  • Shih Tzu
  • Yorkshire Terrier

These petite dogs make good apartment pets. While some were bred to hunt vermin, a large quantity were simply bred for human companionship. Because of their cuteness many owners have a tendency to spoil them often creating pushy behaviors that otherwise would have never been encouraged if the dog in question was a large breed one.

The non Sporting Group


  • Bichon Frise
  • Boston Terrier
  • Bulldog
  • Chow Chow
  • Dalmatian
  • Poodle
  • Shiba Inu

These are the remaining dog breeds that were unable to fit in any of the above categories. Many dogs under this category are quite diverse exhibiting different sizes, colors and temperaments.


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