The 7 Dog Types

The American Kennel Club defines seven distinct groups of dog breeds according to what kind of work that breed of dog was originally selected for.

The seven defined groups are the sporting group, herding group, hound group, toy group, terrier group, working group, and non-sporting group.

Sporting Group

  • A weimaraner sitting in a field
    A weimaraner sitting in a field @khonsu.weimaraner Instagram

The sporting dog group is made up of 32 dog breeds that were bred for their energy and athletic ability. These types of dogs were created to assist hunters in the field, and most are obedient and quite active.

Sporting dogs make good companions. They are sometimes referred to as gun dogs or bird dogs. These dogs require vigorous daily exercise.

There are four categories of sporting group dogs: Spaniels, Pointers, Retrievers, and Setters. Dogs in this group include:

  • English Setter
  • Golden Retriever
  • Irish Setter
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Pointer
  • Sussex Spaniel
  • Weimaraner

Herding Group

  • A bearded collie at the beach with sand on its nose
    A bearded collie at the beach @beardedcollieworld Instagram

The herding dog group is made up of 30 dog breeds that have been selectively bred to herd, gather, and protect livestock. Consisting of a wide range of dogs – everything from Corgis to German Shepherds – this group is renowned for its ability to control the movements of other animals.

These dogs need a great deal of exercise and thrive with intensive, positive training.

Herding dogs include:

Hound Group

  • A basenji in a field
    A basenji in a field @basenji_bertje Instagram

The hound group is made up of 32 dog breeds that share the common ancestral trait of having been bred and used primarily for hunting.  Some are renowned for their tracking abilities, while others were bred to run extreme distances in pursuit of prey. It’s a diverse group ranging from dachshunds to wolfhounds.

Hound dogs include:

  • Basenji
  • Basset Hound
  • Beagle
  • Bloodhound
  • Borzoi
  • Dachshund
  • Greyhound
  • Irish Wolfhound
  • Norwegian Elkhound
  • Pharaoh Hound
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Saluki
  • Scottish Deerhound
  • Whippet

Toy Group

  • A Chihuahua in a pink sweater
    A Chihuahua in a pink hoodie @chihuahua.lover.ins Instagram

The toy dog group is made up of 20 small dog breeds that were bred purely for appearance and companionship. They are a good option for city dwellers and for people with limited experience with dogs.

Toy dogs include:

  • Chihuahua
  • Chinese Crested
  • Italian Greyhound
  • Maltese
  • Manchester Terrier
  • Miniature Pinscher
  • Papillon
  • Pekingese
  • Pomeranian
  • Pug
  • Shih Tzu
  • Yorkshire Terrier

Terrier Group

  • An airedale terrier sitting amongst a lot of yellow leaves
    An airedale terrier @airedale.terrier.lovers Instagram

The terrier dog group is made up of 31 dog breeds that were bred and trained to hunt pests and vermin.

Often thought of as small dogs, some dogs in the terrier group are actually quite large; the Airedale Terrier weighs around 60 pounds or more. Their oversized personalities make terriers an iffy choice for first-time dog trainers.

Dogs in this group include:

  • Airedale Terrier
  • Australian Terrier
  • Border Terrier
  • Bull Terrier
  • Manchester Terrier
  • Rat Terrier
  • Russell Terrier
  • Scottish Terrier
  • Welsh Terrier
  • Wire Fox Terrier

Working Group

  • A happy looking Akita
    An akita @fubuki_akita Instagram

The working dog group was bred to perform a variety of jobs. Some were selected to guard property and livestock; some of these breeds are exceedingly independent and prone to wander. Others were bred to pull sleds or perform search-and-rescue missions.

These dogs are very intelligent, but need a great deal of time and dedicated training.

Dogs in this group include:

  • Akita
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Anatolian Shepherd
  • Boxer
  • Bullmastiff
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • German Pinscher
  • Giant Schnauzer
  • Great Dane
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Neapolitan Mastiff
  • Newfoundland
  • Rottweiler
  • Saint Bernard
  • Siberian Husky

Non-Sporting Group

  • A bichon frise against a white background
    A bichon frise @bichonfrise.world Instagram

The non-sporting dog group is basically a catch-all for dogs that don’t fit well into other groups. They are quite diverse, and each breed merits individual research.

Dogs in this group include:

About Thomas Woods 225 Articles
Thomas has been a dog lover since he was 6 years old when his parents got him a rescue Labrador. Since then his love for dogs has lead him to study Animal Behavior & Welfare. He now keeps a six year old English Bullmastiff and educates pet parents through his online publication Perfect Dog Breeds.

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