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There are more than 190 different dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). Each breed is categorized into one of seven dog breed groups based on why each was bred. From herding livestock to hunting game to protecting property to plain companionship, each breed's story is unique. But even though no two breeds are the same, there are similarities that run through the seven breed groups. Here are some interesting facts about them that you may not have known:
Well known breeds: Border Collie, German Shepherd, Australian Shepherd, Corgi
1. The Herding Group is the newest American Kennel Club (AKC) classification, made official in 1983. Dogs in this category were previously considered part of the Working Group.
2. The Herding Group is aptly named because herding livestock is one of the original jobs dogs were bred for and they've been doing it for centuries.
3. Herding dogs were critical when American pioneers moved west across the country. Their dogs traveled thousands of miles on foot while ensuring that herds of livestock made the journey safely.
4. It’s estimated that all or most Border Collies in the UK can be traced back to one dog: Wiston Cap, born in 1963. He was known as the embodiment of his breed's standards and had more puppies than most dogs ever do.
Well known breeds: Beagle, Bloodhound, Dachshund, Greyhound, Basset Hound
1. There are two main types of hounds, sighthounds and scenthounds. The difference is pretty obvious: sighthounds use their eyes as their primary sense while scenthounds use their noses. Both kinds of hounds have great stamina though.
2. The Greyhound and Afghan Hound (both sighthounds) are thought to be the oldest dog breeds with descriptions dating back as far as the second century AD. There are also remains of what is believed to be a sighthound, estimated to be from 7,000 BC.
3. Hounds don't typically bark traditionally but rather do something called "baying." It is sometimes described as a mix between a howl and a bark. While the sound originally came about as a way for dogs on the hunt to communicate with hunters, even hounds today know how to do it.
Well known breeds: Bulldog, Dalmatian, Poodle, French Bulldog
1. The Non-Sporting Group is one of the two original breed categories. It was defined over 100 years ago when dogs were either in the sporting or the non-sporting group.
2. The Non-Sporting Group boasts the most breed diversity and is sometimes considered a catch-all category. Examples of the diversity are the Bulldog, Dalmatian, Poodle, Boston Terrier, Shar Pei, Bichon Frise, Chow Chow, Shiba Inu, and Tibetan Spaniel.
3. Despite the variation in dog breeds, most of the Non-Sporting Group breeds were designed to interact with humans and many make good watchdogs and house dogs.
Well known breeds: Labrador Retriever, Cocker Spaniel, Irish Setter, German Shorthaired Pointer, Golden Retriever
1. There are four basic types of Sporting Group dogs: retrievers, spaniels, pointers, and setters. All four types are hunters, but none of them are actually bred to kill prey. Retrievers are bred to retrieve game for their hunters, spaniels drive game out from dense underbrush, pointers use their muzzles to point hunters in the right direction, and setters indicate they’ve found game by "setting" (crouching low to the ground).
2. Sporting dogs and Hounds are both used for hunting but one big difference between the two is how they track down game - hounds follow scents on the ground while sporting dogs are follow scents in the air.
3. Many of the most popular dog breeds in the United States belong to the Sporting Group. The Labrador Retriever has been ranked as the most popular dog breed in the country for the past 27 years in a row. And Golden Retrievers have been ranked in the top three for several years as well.
Well known breeds: Jack Russell Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Scottish Terrier, Fox Terrier
1. Terriers were bred to hunt vermin like mice, rats and moles. Unlike Sporting Group dogs, Terriers were bred to both track and kill their prey. Because of this, Terriers are not always the best with small animals.
2. The word “terrier” comes from the Latin word for “earth,” which makes sense because terriers were bred to dig to find prey in underground burrows.
3. Several breeds within the Terrier Group have wiry coats that require special grooming called "stripping." Instead of getting a regular haircut, these Terriers need to have their fur pulled out by the roots. This strips away the outer layer, leaves room for new growth and reveals their shinier undercoat. Although it sounds painful, stripping should not hurt if done correctly.
Well known breeds: Chihuahua, Pug, Yorkshire Terrier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
1. Toy Group dogs were bred to be small so that they could be easily carried around and great (as well as manageable) lap dogs and cuddle buddies.
2. Several Toy Group breeds are the result of generations of "downsizing" larger breeds. Breeders would choose the smallest dogs, breed them and repeat the cycle. In fact, some Toy dogs are basically just miniature versions of larger breeds such as the Toy Poodle, Italian Greyhound, Toy Fox Terrier and Pomeranian.
3. Many dogs in the Toy Group weigh just 5-10 pounds when fully grown. The smallest dog breed in the world is the Chihuahua, usually weighing up to six pounds and standing 5-8 inches tall.
Well known breeds: Siberian Husky, Boxer, Great Dane, Doberman Pinscher, Rottweiler
1. Dogs in the Working Group were each bred for specific jobs, but those jobs vary widely depending on the breed. For example, the Akita was bred to hunt big game like wild boar, deer and even bears while the Bernese Mountain Dog was bred to herd cattle and guard farmyards. Siberian Huskies were bred to haul light loads over long distances in cold weather while Newfoundlands were bred to haul fishing nets to shore and even help with water rescues. And the Boerboel (also known as the South African Mastiff) was bred to keep African households safe from wildlife like lions and baboons.
2. Many of the largest dog breeds are in the Working Group, with some reaching weights of 200 pounds. Examples of large breeds in the category include Great Danes, St. Bernards, Mastiffs, and Newfoundlands.
3. Working dogs came in handy when farmers couldn't afford horses, mules or oxen. Because of their size, large Working dogs were trained by farmers to do the tasks that farm animals did, like plowing fields and pulling carts.
4. Although they can be intimidating because of their size or looks, Working Group dogs tend to be some of the friendliest breeds. This is because they worked closely with humans and thus developed strong bonds with their families.