What Do the 8 AKC Dog Breed Groups Mean?

akc groups aussiegallBy Linda Cole

The American Kennel Club, established in 1884, is a registry of purebred dogs in the United States. To help categorize breeds, dogs are put into one of eight groups based on why the breed was created – i.e., what his job is.

Herding Group

The main function of dogs in this group is to control the movement of other animals. AKC created this newest classification in 1983. Prior to that, they were members of the Working Group. These breeds have the stamina and superb athletic ability to work long hours in difficult weather conditions and over rough terrain. Their job is to drive livestock or herd sheep, controlling them by manipulating their movements. They are extremely intelligent, able to problem solve and have the ability to work on their own when necessary.

Sporting Group

Members of this group were developed to flush out and retrieve quarry on land or in water. In Europe it’s called the Gundog Group, and many of the breeds have their origins in European countries. At one time, hunting was essential to provide food for the family and dogs were indispensable in helping the hunter locate fowl hiding in thick underbrush. When hunting with guns became more popular, retrievers were developed to bring back quarry that had been shot down. These dogs have a generally laid back temperament, are very intelligent, easy to train and want to please.

Hound Group

This group is made up of scenthounds and sighthounds. One member, the Bloodhound, has the best nose around. This group also has the fastest dogs on earth, the Greyhound and the Whippet. Coonhounds were developed to hunt prey, from raccoons to mountain lions, follow their trail and tree them. Their distinct bawling bark is how hunters are able to follow and find their dogs. This is an interesting mix of breeds that includes the tallest dog, the Irish Wolfhound, which was originally bred to hunt wolves, to the short-legged Dachshund known in his native country of Germany as the Badger dog.

Terrier Group

This is a group of feisty, tenacious, fearless and energetic dogs with an attitude to match their prey. These dogs love the hunt, and use their small size to follow prey above and below ground. Terriers, like the Parson Russell, were bred to go to ground to flush out fox from their underground dens so the hunt could continue. Terriers were also bred to control vermin populations. Some from this group were developed to meet a special need. The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier came about because of an early British law that made it unlawful for poor Irish farmers to own a dog that was over 19 inches at the shoulders, forbid them to own hunting dogs, and taxed a dog with a long tail. The Wheaten was developed in Ireland as an all-around farm dog for tenant farmers to get around this law.

Working Group

This group is the blue-collar workers of the canine world. These dogs were developed to perform tasks like pulling heavy freight sleds or carts, aiding fishermen with their nets, rescuing travelers in the Swiss Alps, or standing guard over a flock to protect their four-legged and human family members from harm. These are courageous, intelligent and hardworking canines. Some of these breeds are among the largest dogs; a diet designed specifically for large breed dogs, like CANIDAE Large Breed Formula puppy and adult dog food, is important to make sure large breeds have a proper and healthy diet.

Toy Group

This group may contain the smallest breeds, but don’t let their little size fool you. Even though these dogs were bred to give comfort, some of them have the fearless attitude of a terrier and are good ratters. Some of these lapdogs were developed in monasteries or royal courts, and were beloved pets of kings and queens. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, the largest of the toy breeds, has stayed true to his spaniel heritage as a hunter of small fowl.

Non-Sporting Group

This group, also known as the Utility Group, is made up of breeds that don’t fit into any of the other classifications. This is a varied group of canines, which includes one of the world’s most unique and unusual breed, the Norwegian Lundehund – a polydactyl dog with toes that can function like fingers to grip slippery rocks.

Miscellaneous Group

These are breeds waiting to be fully recognized by the AKC. Members of this group can compete in and earn titles in obedience, tracking and agility events, but are not eligible for championship points. They can also compete in Junior Showmanship and conformation shows, but can only compete within the group. When officially recognized, they are moved into their appropriate group.

Top photo by Aussiegall
Bottom photo by ClickFlash Photos

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One thought on “What Do the 8 AKC Dog Breed Groups Mean?

  1. “Herding Group”—YEP! This is my boy! He is a Sheltie

    The main function of dogs in this group is to control the movement of other animals. AKC created this newest classification in 1983. Prior to that, they were members of the Working Group. These breeds have the stamina and superb athletic ability to work long hours in difficult weather conditions and over rough terrain. Their job is to drive livestock or herd sheep, controlling them by manipulating their movements. They are extremely intelligent, able to problem solve and have the ability to work on their own when necessary.

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