Grouping of Purebred Dogs
Selective breeding in different types of dogs was originally designed to make the most of useful traits so that dogs could be utilized for various working purposes. Ranging from hunting and guarding, to entertainment and status, different dogs developed according to the tasks for which they were required.
Breeding specific types of dogs based on looks alone is only a practice that began during the 19th Century and since this time, there have been certain breed standards that are recognized.
The different types of dogs we know and love today fall into 7 basic categories, along with an 8th miscellaneous category for dog breeds that are still being classified.
From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository Sporting dogs, or gun dogs, also encompass three sub-varieties of dogs. These are the Retrievers, Pointers, and Setters. Originally bred to hunt game birds, most breeds are able to work equally well on land or in water.
The primary difference between the three sub-varieties of sporting dogs is as follows:
Retrievers will locate any killed or injured game and bring it back to the hunter. To these happy-natured dogs, retrieving is a great game.
Pointers were designed to locate prey and, once found, will stand with nose and often one paw raised to point toward the location of hiding prey. These intelligent dogs thrive on games of hide and seek.
Setters will locate their prey and, once found, will crouch before the hiding place or position in which it was cornered to wait for the hunter to complete the hunt with a net.
All types of dogs in the sporting dogs group respond well to obedience training and seem happiest when trying to comply with their master’s commands. While they are very intelligent, they are also extremely energetic, so sporting dogs need a lot of regular exercise.
Some of the more common types of sporting dogs include the Labrador retriever, Irish Setter, Cocker Spaniel, Weimaraner, and the German Short-Haired Pointer.
Hound dogs were originally bred to chase quarry either by sight or smell, or in some cases, both. These types of dogs have excellent eyesight along with speed and amazing levels of stamina, which makes them ideal for tracking, flushing out game, and hunting.
Many hound dogs have an inherently determined nature and once they’ve set their sights on their prey, it can be difficult to deter them from their goal. They can seem quite single-minded and this can sometimes make obedience training a challenge unless handled with firm, positive-reinforcement.
Some of the more common types of hound dogs include the Dachshund, English Foxhound, Greyhound, Basset Hound, and the Rhodesian Ridgeback.
Dogs belonging to the Working Dogs group were specifically developed to perform a wide range of working tasks. These tasks include herding, droving, hauling, herding, hunting, pulling, guarding, and even rescuing.
The physically demanding nature of these tasks tends to require types of dogs with large, strong frames and a level of intelligence sufficient to perform these tasks well. Working dogs also share a very loyal nature, which in turn may develop into a strong protectiveness of their owners.
Working dogs tend to be very intelligent, independent and can often be domineering. For a person unused to firm control and handling, this can make these larger dogs seem difficult or out of control. Their intelligence means that most working dogs will learn quickly but will require effective obedience training and regular socialization with all types of dogs.
It is recommended that owners seeking a family pet or first-time dog owners learn adequate dog training and obedience techniques prior to obtaining a working dog breed.
Working dog breeds such as Rottweilers or Doberman Pinschers are still used frequently as police dogs or guard dogs. Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies are commonly used as sled pulling dogs. Many larger mountain dogs, such as the Saint Bernard, are commonly used as rescue dogs.
In more recent times, the German Shepherd dog has been utilized in various working dog roles instead of their more traditional herding dog roles. It is common to see German Shepherds in the roles of police dogs, tracking dogs, and search and rescue dogs. Their high level of intelligence has also seen them trained as successful service dogs to handicapped owners.
Terrier dogs were originally bred to hunt and control vermin and other predators such as rats, mice, foxes and ferrets. This selective breeding for specific characteristic and traits gave rise to small, energetic breeds with very determined temperaments.
Terriers were bred for their ability to dig tenaciously in search of their quarry as well as the tendency to bark persistently in order to frighten their prey out of hiding.
Terrier dogs tend to be small or medium in size and are usually described as feisty, willing to take on even the biggest of opponents with no regard for size. This is an excellent trait for hunting rats, but it’s not always a nice attitude with other pets or young children.
The very traits that make them successful hunters can also make them a little difficult to train effectively as their determined nature may seem to some as being stubborn.
Dogs belonging to the toy dog group were originally bred and developed to provide pleasure and companionship to wealthier people. Where other dog breeds were allocated specific roles in hunting or working, toy dogs had no specific working function and became somewhat of a status symbol.
Before the advent of breeding for appearance, toy dog breeds were often employed as lap warmers or bed warmers, spawning the name ‘lap dog’, and could often be seen seated on the laps of nobles and royalty in both Oriental and European palaces and castles.
Toy dogs generally make very easy care domestic pets, although without adequate socialization when they are pups, toy breeds may tend to become very protective of their owners and their property. This trait can develop a persistent barking habit, or yapping, in these very small dogs as they seek to ward off others from what they perceive as their property.
Some more common types of toy dogs include the Chihuahua, Maltese terrier, Pomeranian, Shih Tzu, and Poodles among other types of dogs.
There are so many different types of dogs encompasses in the non-sporting dogs group that it’s difficult to give one specific classification or general trait among them.
Non-sporting dog varieties are available in different sizes, coats, appearances, traits and temperaments. This classification is then more specific to all types of dogs whose primary breeding purpose is no longer utilized.
Many of the breeds found in the non-sporting dogs group were once bred for tasks that have altered over time so that these tasks are no longer as commonly required. Such tasks as hunting small game, bull baiting, circus performing dogs and even coach dogs like the Dalmatian are included in these types of dogs.
Examples of the types of dog breeds included in the non-sporting dogs classification include the Dalmation, the Lhasa Apso, Poodle, Chow Chow, Bichon Frise, and the Chinese Shar-pei.
Herding dogs were originally developed to utilize their huge levels of stamina and agility. Many types of dogs in the herding dog group are able to herd animals that may be many times their size and this can seem as though they are able to control the movements and direction of other animals. They are also able to control the movements of large herds of sheep, deer, or cattle that number in the hundreds with relative ease.
Most types of herding dogs have been bred over generations to sport a weatherproof double-coat that not only protects them from the cold, but can also insulate them against the heat.
Herding dogs are very intelligent and have enormous amounts of energy. The combination of these two traits can mean herding dogs often become destructive if not given sufficient exercise or mental stimulation to stop them becoming bored.
The instinctive nature of herding dogs is very strong and they will attempt to round up members of the family, including other pets, in order to direct them back to areas or activities the dog would prefer to be enjoying.
Herding dogs respond very well to firm training and actually enjoy being challenged with tasks that make them hunt, seek, track, or find object. They will perform best when given specific tasks to complete prior to receiving a positive reward or reinforcement.
Border collies, Australian Cattle Dogs, German Shepherd Dogs, and Shetland Sheepdogs are among the various types of herding dogs.
In more recent times, the intelligence and natural determination of these types of dogs has led them to be utilized in alternative roles away from their traditional herding roles.
It is becoming more common to see many different types of herding dogs actively used in working dog roles, such as police work, tracking work, and even rescue work.
Miscellaneous Dog Breeds
There are some dog breeds that are classified as miscellaneous simply due to not being recognized by the American Kennel Club at the time of this writing, although they are being considered for inclusion into the recognized dog breeds list.
One miscellaneous dog breed includes the Neapolitan Mastiff, which was originally bred in Italy as a war breed to be used in dog fighting and bear baiting. They were also often used by the Romans in the arena, but these enormous fierce dogs are also very effective as guard dogs.
The Black Russian terrier is also quite an old Russian breed, dating back to the 1800s. Originally bred for military use, these large dogs were also used in the bull-fighting ring.
Another miscellaneous dog breed is the Glen of Imaal Terrier, originally from Ireland and bred to hunt small game. The terrier is also known as a Miniature Irish Wolfhound.