Love dogs, but don’t know how to choose or where to start? A little education can go a long way. Dog were originally domesticated to help humans thrive and survive. All over the world dogs were selectively bred to highlight the qualities that were desired: hunters wanted dogs who would retrieve game, farmers wanted dogs who help them herd their flocks. The American Kennel Club (AKC) list dog breeds by seven specialized group. The first thing to discover are the many unique qualities dog breeds possess. Here’s a quick look at the AKC breed groupings:
Sporting Group: Dogs in this group were bred to aid man in hunting fowl (wild birds). Conditioned by nature to retrieve, these dogs can be trained to gather birds from the field or water, or they can simply stay at home and make excellent companions, fetching tennis balls, slippers and the morning paper.
Hound Group: The breeds in the Hound Group like following fast-moving game, and this penchant has made them a big hit in hunting circles. In addition to their keen noses or sharp eyesight, the hounds’ easy-going, at times, stoic personality has endeared them as family pets. The three types of hounds are sight hounds, scent hounds and large game hounds.
Terrier Group: Losing is not in a terrier’s vocabulary. Own a terrier, and one word springs out at you immediately – determination. Terriers take a bite out of life and don’t let go. The two types of terriers are vermin hunters and fighting breeds.
Working Group: This classification needs little explanation. Though more varied in job description than the other groups, the breeds in the Working Group have one thing in common: Throughout the centuries, they have performed specific jobs that have benefited humans. In the Working Group, you find sled/draft dogs, personal protection dogs, rescue dogs and estate guarding dogs.
Herding Group: The function of breeds in the Herding Group is to, well, herd livestock. These dogs are a hard working lot who, in most cases, work under the direction of a shepherd. This group can be broken down into two types: sheepherders and cattle herders.
Non-Sporting Group: Many of the dogs in this group were originally bred for specific, but because dog work is hard to come by these days, these dogs have become companions. Unlike other breed groups, the personalities of the dogs in this group vary widely because they were all originally bred for different tasks. Before considering any of these breeds, consult breed-specific books and speak to a veterinarian to get a truer sense of what the breed you’re looking at is like.
Toy Group: Many of the breeds in this group are miniaturized versions of working hunting dogs. Too small to work, these breeds have perfected the art of being adorable. Needing little exercise (though they definitely need exercise), they are perfect for apartment dwellers and older people. Playful and devoted, they demand constant affection and attention.