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How are dog breed groups classified?

dog breed groups

dog breed groups

When I say dog breeds, what comes to mind? Are you thinking about Golden retrievers, German Shepherds, Labradors, Rottweilers, Newfoundlands, Great Danes, etc? No. Unfortunately, in this case, I am talking about dog breed groups. Dog breed groups are broad categories that may have several different dog breeds as its part.

Why do you need to understand dog breed group?

If you are planning to take your dog to any dog contest, you will have to mention which dog breed group your dog falls under. In most dog championships, dogs are first grouped according to their breed group and then judged on the basis of their performance. One winner is picked from each of the different dog breed group. For the finals, the winner from each group competes.

By understanding the different types of dog breed group, their histories, and what to expect, you can perform better as a guardian. These factors will help you understand your dog better and be more in tune with their requirements and needs.

Even when you are training your dog, understanding the requirements of the dog breed group will ease the process of training. You can also curtail the training process to revolve around what your dog can do best. This way, training can become much simple and easy.

If you want to know more about the different dog breeds, their care, psychology and the dog training process, please subscribe to The Happy Puppers. You can subscribe via either of the subscription boxes present in the sidebars. Your subscription will allow me to notify you about the release of new blog posts. This way you will stay ahead of all the latest tips and tricks in the dog world. If you like to watch videos, you can subscribe to the YouTube channel of The Happy Puppers, Shruti and Delta. Do not forget to ring the notification bell.

The 7 dog breeds

The different dog breed groups

Currently, as per the American Kennel Club, there are seven major dog breed groups. These are:

As you must have guessed already, the working dog breed group contains those breeds that are responsible for performing practical tasks while the hound dog breed group involved breeds that are involved in hunting. To know each and every dog breed group, keep reading.

Sporting dog breeds

Dogs who belong to the sporting dog breeds were originally bred to be the sidekick of hunters. Their primary purpose is to help the hunters catch feathered games. Once the gun was invented, it became imperative for hunters to have a canine to help with the retrieval of the birds or waterfowls they had hunted down.

Some of these dog breeds like the retrievers are exceptionally skilled at swimming and retrieving waterfowl from the rivers. On the other hand, the other breeds like pointers, spaniels, and setters are experts when it comes to hunting pheasants, quail, or other game birds in grasslands.

Sporting dogs

Even though all the above-mentioned dog breeds are involved in helping a hunter retrieve the game, they each have a different role to play in the hunting process. The setters and pointers help by identifying and marking the game while the spaniels were responsible for flushing the game. Finally comes the retriever whom we all know is always responsible for retrieving the game, either wounded or dead.

All dogs who belong to the sporting dog breed group share certain common characteristics. They are naturally very active and have a huge personality. They also have a very stable temperament and superior instincts compared to other dogs in the wild and water. Dog breeds belonging to the sporting dog breed group are much preferred as family and companion dogs since they are highly energetic and are always alert. However, their high energy levels make it imperative that they are regularly exercised and spend plenty of time outdoors. If such dogs do not get ample exercise, they are likely to develop aggression issues.

Example of sporting dog breeds:

Hound dog breed group

Originally these dog breeds were also classified under the sporting dog breed group. However, in the year 1930, the American Kennel Club introduced another dog breed group referred to as the hound group. This group specifically includes dogs that have been bred to hunt warm-blooded quarries like raccoons, antelope, and rabbits.

Even though the dogs of the hound group are known for their exceptional hunting skills, the breeds in this group are further divided into two subcategories. These categories are the scent hounds and sight hounds.

Hound dogs

Scent hounds

Scent hounds use their noses to track their prey. They are primarily known for their acute sense of smell. Some examples of scent hounds are beagles, baying hounds, coonhounds etc.

Sight hounds

Sighthounds as the name suggests, rely on their vision for tracking and hunting their prey. Some common examples of sight hounds are Afghan hound, Italian greyhound, Saluki, Whippet, greyhound

Adaptability to companionship

Most of the dog breeds falling in this dog breed group are highly affectionate. They make excellent and loyal companions. Some breeds may require more exercise than others. These dogs are also known to be relentless when hunting. If they catch a scent or the site of prey, they will not stop until they have the prey in their mouth. Therefore, when you take a dog belonging to such a breed on a walk, hold onto the leash very tightly.

Examples of hound dog breeds:

Toy dog breed group

For as long as dogs of toy breeds have been bred, their primary purpose has been to serve as human companions. These dogs are generally small in size, easily transportable in bags or by carrying, and are most often seen sitting on the laps of their favorite humans. If you live in an apartment or if you do not have a lot of time to take your dog out for walks, the toy dog breeds are the perfect option for you. Some of these breeds have also been bred down from their cousins who belong to the larger dog breeds.

Toy dogs

The breeds that fall under the toy group are known to be very affectionate and can easily adapt to the environment of their family. They are very intelligent, sociable, and high-energy dogs. Even though these dogs are generally small in stature, they have protective instincts that can be compared to large breed dogs like Rottweilers, German shepherds etc. Just like their protective instinct they also have big personalities.

The most common toy dog breeds are

Non-sporting dog breed groups

In some cases, a specific dog breed may not satisfy the criteria of any dog breed group. Under such conditions, such dog breeds are put into the non-sporting group. Thus, the non-sporting dog breed group comprises of a variety of dog breeds with different work requirements, energy levels, and temperaments that do not fit into any of the other six groups.

Non-sporting dogs

Originally, AKC had decided to have only two dog breed groups. However, eventually, the dog breeds like terriers and hounds were removed from the sporting group while the working dogs and the toy dog breeds came in from the non-sporting ones. Further down the line, the herding dogs and working dog group also came into the picture.

The non-sporting dog breed group encompasses all those dogs that do not satisfy the criteria of any specific group. Therefore, you will find a variety of history, functions, and sizes in this dog breed group. Most of the dogs belonging to this group make amazing house and guard dogs. However, since the breeds range all the way from Lhasa to French bulldog, a generalization cannot be done.

Examples of non-sporting dog breeds:

Working dog breed groups

Originally the working dog breeds were also put into the nonsporting group. However, eventually, AKC split this group away from the non-sporting one because of their roles in performing highly specific jobs. These jobs are mostly related to either performing rescues or guarding properties. These dogs are the hardiest breeds. The dog breeds that fall under the working dog group have been responsible for various tasks throughout history. These tasks can range from guarding flocks, and protecting homes to pulling sleds and cards.

Working dog breeds

Even though these dogs are extremely powerful and very intelligent, they are also very intuitive. This is why these dogs are also used to perform rescues and tasks that involve protection. The breeds that commonly fall under the working dog breed group involved those dogs who have roles in security, military, farm animals as well as those who work as service and guide dogs. Therefore, there is no doubt that dog breeds of this group make for amazingly loyal companions. They are also incredibly intelligent and highly energetic.

Examples of working dog breeds:

The herding dog breed group

The herding dog breed group came into being in the year 1983 by the AKC. This group includes all the breeds that are responsible for herding livestock. Currently, there are around 30 breeds in this group. The dogs of this group range in a variety of sizes from Corgi to German shepherds.

Herding dogs

The primary purpose of breeding herding dogs was to protect herds and gather the livestock. These dogs used to work very closely with shepherds. Their amazing intelligence and natural alertness made them easily and highly trainable. They are also extremely affectionate and are extremely loyal. These dogs are the perfect companions to those who can provide proper dog training, routine, exercise, and clear instructions about behavior. Since these dogs are extremely intelligent, they tend to become bored easily. Therefore, as a responsible dog guardian, if you want or have dogs of these breeds, you will have to provide them with mental stimulation along with physical exercise. 

Examples of herding dog breeds:


The terrier group originally came from the British Isles. They have specific duties depending on the place where they were originally bred. Their tasks can range from killing vermin all the way to guarding family homes and barns. Most terriers were originally bred for hunting purposes. They could easily hunt out small animals like Badgers, rats etc.

Terrier dog breeds

Variation of terriers

With terriers, there are certain variations. Terriers come in short-legged and long-legged ones. The short-legged terriers were originally bred for the purpose of pursuing rodents who live underground. The long-legged terriers had the work of digging out the creatures instead of burrowing in underground.

The bully breed also falls under terriers. They were originally bred for the purpose of bull-baiting and dog fighting. However, now, these breeds make some amazing companion dogs. Despite the defaming, these dogs can be the perfect companion for families with kids and other dogs.

One common trait that all the dog breeds under this category share are high levels of courage and self-confidence. They are determined to possess the terrain as their own. The type of terrain or geographical location does not matter to them. If they have decided to find prey, they will find it, no matter what. The dogs belonging to the terrier groups are most often characterized as being highly energetic and extremely fierce. Even though they make for extremely lovable pets, they also have very strong personalities. Some of the breeds belonging to this category also require special grooming.

Examples of terrier breeds


The seven different dog breed groups have been classified on the basis of temperament, work, energy levels, role as human companions, etc. The dogs in each of these groups have their own personalities, quirks and goofy behaviors. Understanding the behavior of dogs belonging to each of these groups will make your training process much easier. This will also help you deepen the bond with your dog.

If you would like to know more about dogs of different breeds, their specific training and care needs, please subscribe to The Happy Puppers. Your subscription will allow me to notify you about the new blog post releases so you can keep yourself updated with the latest training and care tips from the doggy world. You can also subscribe to the YouTube channel of The Happy Puppers, Shruti and Delta. Remember to ring the notification bell.

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Now that you are aware of the seven different dog breeds, which of these groups does your dog belong to? Mention it in the comment section. If you have any queries, suggestions or stories to share, please put them in the comment section as well. If you want my help, feel free to reach out to me on any of my social media channels. I will be happy to help.

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