All dogs, impure as well as pure-bred, and several wild cousins such as wolves and foxes, are one family. Each breed was created by human beings, using selective breeding to get desired qualities. The result is an almost unbelievable diversity of purebred dogs that will, when bred to others of their breed, produce their own kind.
A breed standard is a written description of a given breed. This description uses words to define what a breed should look like. A standard exists for each of the breeds recognized by The American Kennel Club (AKC) and is the standard each breed is mentally measured against.
Throughout the world there are several hundred distinctive breeds of purebred dogs, not all of which are AKC recognized breeds. There are currently 147 breeds officially recognized by the AKC. Each breed is assigned to one of the following seven groups, based on the uses for which the breeds were originally developed. These seven groups include: Group 1 — Sporting Dogs; Group 2 — Working Dogs; Group 3 — Terriers; Group 4 — Toy Breeds; Group 5 — Non-Sporting Breeds; Group 6 — Herding; and Group 7 — Hounds.
The Sporting dogs are naturally active and alert, likable, and well-rounded companions. Members of this Group include pointers, retrievers, setters and spaniels. Remarkable for their instincts in water and woods, many of these breeds actively participate in hunting and other field activities. Potential owners of Sporting dogs need to realize that most require regular, invigorating exercise.
Dogs of the Working Group, of which there are 21, were bred to perform such jobs as guarding property, pulling sleds and performing water rescues. They have been an invaluable asset to human being throughout the ages. The Doberman Pinscher, Siberian Husky and Great Dane are included in this Group. Quick to learn, these intelligent, capable animals make solid companions.
The Terrier Group is a group of feisty, energetic dogs whose sizes range from fairly small, as in the Norfolk, Cairn to the grand Airedale Terrier. This group consists of 25 different recognizable breeds. Their ancestors were bred for hunting and killing vermin. These dogs are very determined and are often described as projecting an attitude that they are always eager for a spirited argument. They require owners with the determination to match their lively characteristics.
With 20 separate breeds in it, dogs in the Toy Group are full of energy. These dogs may look little and fragile, but many Toy dogs are tough as nails (AKC.org). This group is popular for people who do not have a lot of space for a larger dog. This group contains the ever lovable Chihuahua, Italian Greyhound, and Poodle. The diminutive size and winsome expressions of Toy dogs illustrate the main function of this Group: to embody sheer delight (AKC.org).
The Poodle, Dalmatian, and Bulldog are a few examples of the 17 breeds you will find in the Non-Sporting Group. This is an extremely diverse group of dog breeds. Some are extremely rare to find, while others are seen all the time and everywhere. The breeds in the Non-Sporting Group are a varied collection in terms of size, coat, personality and overall appearance (AKC.org).
The Herding Group, consisting of the Collie, Border Collie, and German Shepherd Dog are some of the most popular family pets. This is an astounding group of smart dogs. Formerly members of the Working Group, they were separated into their own group in 1983. All breeds share the fabulous ability to control the movements of other animals (AKC.org). These dogs make wonderful, obedient pets if given the time for training and exercises.
The Hound Group contains such popular dogs as the Basset Hound, Bloodhound, and Greyhound. There are 22 separate breeds in the Hound Group alone. Most hounds share the common ancestral trait of being used for hunting, for example, some use acute scenting powers to follow a trail. Others demonstrate a phenomenal gift of stamina as they relentlessly run down prey.
Purebred dogs are found in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and personalities. Some breeds are old, others are new, and all have been molded over time to serve humanity in some capacity. Thus we have hunters, guards, trackers, shepherds, sled dogs, and above all, companions. We have energetic dogs, sedate dogs, extroverted dogs and those that prefer the fellowship of one or a few familiar faces. Choosing the purebred dog that’s right for you requires some work. By narrowing down these groups you can find a dog to fit your life style and personality.
The American Kennel Club’s The Complete Dog Book, 19th Edition Revised
Article Breed Standards, by Sari B. Tietjen
The American Kennel Club website, www.AKC.ORG