Types of Dog Breeds

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If you are looking to adopt a dog, there are hundreds of breeds to choose from. One way to choose a dog is to understand the different types of dog breeds.

Dog breeds can be categorized into seven major groups, each with different hereditary traits that help form their personalities. The groups are sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting, and herding. Each is unique and multiple dog breeds fall within each group.

In this article, we will discuss all types of dog breeds. There are hundreds of different types of dog breeds in the world. The best way to understand the differences between the types of dog breeds is to learn about the different “groups” of dogs. The dog breeds in each group have certain genetic similarities that allow them to be classified in the group. Another great way to compare dog breeds is to look at different characteristics and traits between them. We will discuss some of the main things to look for when comparing different dog breeds.

I have owned and loved dogs for my entire life, and have done a lot of research about different types of dog breeds. I understand that it can be overwhelming to research dog breeds to adopt because there are so many to choose from. I hope that this guide will give you some more information about different breeds and help you learn more about the kind of dog that you want to adopt.

In this article

‍The Seven Major Dog Groups

One of the best ways to differentiate dog breeds is to learn about the different dog groups. The American Kennel Club recognizes seven groups of dog breeds. Each group is defined by certain characteristics and traits that make the group unique. These traits are usually related to the types of activities that the dog breeds excel at or were bred to do. These characteristics date back to the times when dogs were seen more as laborers assisting humans in work than as pets.

The seven dog groups are:

  • Sporting
  • Hound
  • Working
  • Terrier
  • Toy
  • Herding
  • Non-Sporting

In the following sections, we will discuss the common characteristics of dog breeds in each group. We will also provide examples of popular dog breeds within each group to help you understand them better.

Sporting Dogs

The first group of dog breeds is the sporting group. This group is characterized by dog breeds that have a lot of energy and the ability to be trained. These dogs were originally bred to help their owners with hunting.

Retrievers are a common example of a sporting group dog, as are pointers. These dogs would help identify or retrieve animals for their hunting humans. Today, these dogs love to play and excel at games that remind them of their genetic tendencies. For example, retrievers love playing fetch.

Dogs in the sporting group are highly trainable. This is because they needed to be trained for assisting their owners with hunting in previous generations. Today, this trait makes these dogs great candidates for service and therapy dogs. Dogs in this group are even sometimes used in search and rescue missions to help locate lost or injured people.

The high energy level and high intelligence make sporting group dogs great pets for families that are busy and want to take their dog with them wherever they go.

Hound Dogs

The next group of dog breeds is the hound group. Dog breeds in this category, like sporting dogs, were bred to help their owners with hunting. Rather than locating or retrieving prey, however, hound dogs were bred to pursue and attack the animals themselves.

Because of this genetic trait, hound dogs usually have a high prey drive. This means that when they see something that they consider prey, they will do everything that they can to reach and attack. This can happen when the dog sees a bird or squirrel, but can also happen when they see a cat or smaller dog. It is recommended that any dog in the hound group get tested for cat and small dog friendliness before being adopted into a home with smaller animals.

Hound dogs are known for being fast so that they can catch their prey. Within the hound group, there are subgroups that describe how the dogs track and catch their prey. Scent hounds follow the scent of their prey. These dogs include beagles and basset hounds. Sighthounds are another subgroup. These dogs include breeds like the greyhound and Saluki, who use their sight to find and track their targets.

In general, hound dogs are high-energy and intelligent, making them great family pets. Before adopting, be sure that your dog will get along with your other family pets and your kids, just to be safe.

Working Dogs

Working dogs are characterized by their intelligence and strength. Historically, dogs in the working group were used to help their owners in some way. This can include dogs that helped their owners hunt, dogs that helped pull carts or sleds, and guard dogs. This group has a variety of dog breeds, but all are very strong and intelligent.

One popular dog breed in the working group is the husky. Huskies were bred to help pull sleds across the snow in the north. They can run full speed for hours at a time, all while pulling a heavy sled carrying people and supplies. Akitas are another dog breed in the working group. They were used as hunting dogs and helped their owners hunt bears and boars. Finally, rottweilers were often used as guard dogs in the past. Today, all of these dog breeds are more commonly found as pets.

Dogs in the working group make great pets because they have plenty of energy and strength to keep up with your family and your activities. Their intelligence also makes them easy to train.

Terrier Group

Dog breeds in the terrier group are known for being on the small side and scruffy. The dogs range from extremely small to medium in size. In the past, dog breeds in this group were used to help their owners hunt small animals like rodents and vermin. Their size allowed them to crawl into small holes or dig in the dirt to find their prey.

Today, dogs in the terrier group make great companions and pets. Popular breeds in this group include the Jack Russell terrier and the bull terrier. These dogs are cute and cuddly and love spending time with their owners.

There are also some “bully” breeds in the terrier group, like the American Staffordshire terrier. These dogs were bred and used in dogfighting, where the dogs were forced to fight each other until they drew blood or even killed the other dog. This practice gave these dog breeds a bad reputation even though it is not in their nature to be violent. So-called “bully” breeds still make excellent pets and companions.

Toy Group

The dog breeds in the toy group come in a variety of appearances and colors, but can all be classified as small. Dog breeds in this group make great pets because they are loving, gentle, and love spending time with their owners. They are easy to love and spend time with because they can fit right in your lap!

You have probably heard of many dog breeds in the toy group. This is because they are so common as pets for families in the United States. A few of the most popular dog breeds in the toy group include pugs, chihuahuas, and Pomeranians. There are also toy versions of larger dogs, such as the toy poodle.

Dogs in the toy group are great for people living in smaller houses or apartments. These smaller dogs don’t need a huge yard or a lot of space to be comfortable. They also don’t need a ton of exercise compared to larger dogs. Toy dogs will be happy with a few walks per day and some time playing with toys.

One thing to consider is that some breeds in the toy group are known for excessive barking. Do your research before adopting a dog, especially if you live in an apartment or are very close to your neighbors! Of course, individual dogs can be quieter than the breed average. Be sure to understand your individual dog’s tendencies before adopting.

Herding Group

Dogs in the herding group were historically bred to help farmers herd livestock like sheep and cows. Because of this historical use for herding, these dogs still tend to “herd” even if they have never been on a farm. If you are ever at a dog park with a dog from the herding group, you might notice that they try to herd the other dogs at the park. This is a fun example of how dogs still have so many instincts that they follow today.

Herding dogs are smart, energetic, and fast. They have the energy and speed to continually run around groups of livestock to organize them and send them in a specific direction. If you adopt a dog in the herding group, you will need to commit to a regular and rigorous exercise routine to keep them happy and healthy.

Popular dog breeds within the herding group include border collies, German shepherds, and corgis. Each of these dogs looks different and is noticeably different in size. However, they all have the same natural herding instincts from their ancestors.

Dogs in this group make great pets for active people. They usually do well with families, as they can keep up with kids and other family activities pretty easily. If you adopt a herding dog, be sure to give them plenty of exercise and love.

Non-Sporting Group

The non-sporting group includes all the rest of the dogs. Dog breeds in this group weren’t necessarily bred for a specific purpose to help humans besides companionship and interaction. They are simply dogs that make great companions and pets.

Since this group is somewhat of a “catch-all” group, the breeds that fall into this category are varied and unique, each with its own history and ancestry. Some popular breeds from this group include bulldogs, dalmations, and poodles. Each of these dogs has a different energy and intelligence level and looks completely different from each other.

Dogs in the non-sporting group make excellent pets. Just because they were never bred for a specific purpose doesn’t mean that they have no talent or skill. If you want to adopt a dog from this group, be sure to do some research about the specific breed’s personality traits and history. This can tell you a lot about how your dog will behave and act in the home with your family.

Differences Between Dog Breeds

Dog breed groups are a great way to categorize the many different dog breeds, but they are not the only way to differentiate between dogs. If you are trying to decide on a type of dog to adopt, you might not care much if it is a sporting dog or a working dog. You will likely care about things like their energy level and personality traits.

In the following sections, we will discuss the different factors that help us differentiate dog breeds.


One easy way to differentiate dog breeds is by size. Most people agree that dogs can be categorized into the following size groups: extra small, small, medium, large, and extra-large or giant.

Sometimes, the size of the dog can be a good indicator of the type of environment that the breed usually prefers. For example, extra small and small dogs are usually good for people living in small apartments, while bigger dogs need a large house and a yard to run in. This is not always the case, though. There are some dog breeds in the large and extra-large categories that can also do well in smaller apartments and houses.

In general, the size of the dog can be a good indicator of their preferred living situation. However, you should always do your own research to find out what is best for your dog.

In the following table, we will review some popular dog breeds in each size group.


Another important distinction to make between dog breeds is intelligence level. Intelligent dogs can quickly learn new commands and tricks and can perform them on the first command more often than dogs with lower intelligence. Intelligent dogs are great to have as pets because you can spend time teaching them fun tricks as well as important commands. This is a great way to have fun with your dog while building a bond together.

Dogs with high intelligence can sometimes be a lot to handle, though, which is something to consider. Highly intelligent dogs require mental stimulation to keep them from getting bored. If you adopt an intelligent dog and then neglect to train them and foster their intelligence, then they will likely act out with behavioral issues.

Remember that adopting an intelligent dog can be fun and has its benefits, but it is a commitment. You will need to work hard to provide your dog with all of the stimulation that they require to be happy and healthy.

The top five most intelligent dog breeds are border collies, poodles, German shepherds, golden retrievers, and Doberman pinschers.

Activity Level

When you are thinking about adopting a dog, you will need to consider their exercise needs and overall activity level. A crucial part of owning a dog is making sure that they are stimulated and exercised. While individual dogs have their own specific needs, most dogs of the same breed will have similar activity levels.

Any dog that you choose to adopt will need to have some sort of an exercise routine. This should include at least two walks per day as well as some time to run around in a fenced-in yard or park regularly. Some dog breeds will be perfectly happy with less exercise than this, while others will require much more.

Before adopting a dog, be sure to look up the breed’s activity level and recommended exercise routine. If you don’t think that you can keep up with a proper exercise routine for your dog, then you should consider adopting a dog with a lower activity level.

Some dog breeds with the highest activity levels include the Pembroke Welsh corgi, Shetland sheepdog, dalmatian, Russell terrier, Siberian husky, retrievers, collies, and shepherds among others.

Preferred Climate

One last thing to consider when adopting a dog is the climate that you live in. Over time, dogs that were bred for certain climates have been moved and successfully lived in other climates. Huskies have been known to live in Florida and dogs with shorter hair live in snowy climates. However, dogs will usually be more comfortable in an environment that they are genetically bred for.

Some dog breeds that are best suited for warmer climates include chihuahuas, Australian cattle dogs, Ibizan hounds, Afghan hounds, and Yorkshire terriers. These dogs are used to warm weather and will thrive in tropical and hot climates. If you have one of these dog breeds or another that thrives in warm weather but live in a cold climate, you might need to help your dog stay warm during the winter. Many companies make cute dog sweaters, jackets, and snow boots, which can help your dog stay warm in the snow and cold.

Some dog breeds that are best suited for cold weather include Bernese mountain dogs, German shepherds, Great Pyrenees, Newfoundlands, and Siberian huskies. These dogs all have thick fur that keeps them warm during the winter. These coats can make them overheat quickly in the summer, though. If you adopt a cold-weather dog but live in a warm climate, then you might need to make some changes to help your dog deal with the heat.

During the summer, avoid walking your dog in the middle of the day. Wait until the morning and evening when it is a bit cooler out. When you leave the house, turn on your air conditioning for your dog. If you have a yard, consider getting a small pool for your dog to play and cool down in.

Mutts and Mixed Breeds

Another important thing to consider when adopting a dog is that there are many mutts and mixed breed dogs that need a home. It can be fun and exciting to pick out a purebred puppy from a breeder, but it can be expensive. If you decide to go through a breeder to get a dog, make sure your breeder is responsible and your dog and its mother are healthy. However, we encourage you to find a dog through a rescue organization.

Many dogs in rescue organizations will be adult dogs and they likely won’t be purebred. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though. Purebred dogs are very susceptible to medical conditions and can have behavioral issues. Dogs that have multiple breeds in their blood tend to be healthier.

If you are looking to adopt a specific breed of dog because of certain traits in the breed, you can even look for dogs available for adoption that are part of a certain breed. Now that you know more about the characteristics of certain breeds, you can look for mutts that are part of breeds that fit your lifestyle. For example, if you know that you want an energetic and intelligent dog but aren’t set on a specific breed, you can look for mutts that are part retriever, shepherd, collie, etc.

Some people say that they don’t want to adopt a dog from a rescue or shelter because they are less likely to be puppies. While puppies do sometimes end up in shelters and rescues, you are more likely to end up with an adult dog when you adopt from these locations. While puppies are certainly cute, adult dogs also make great pets and need a home too. Adult dogs are more likely to be house trained and know commands than a puppy will as well.

There are so many things to consider when adopting a dog. At the end of the day, you need to make sure that your dog fits in with your family and lifestyle. Before adopting a dog, do some research about their breed to find out how you should interact with them, exercise them, and train them. Knowing this information will help you build a strong bond and will help your dog feel at home with you.