Different Types of Dogs

The Different Types of Dogs: Understanding Canine Groups

You don’t have to know many different types of dogs to appreciate what a canine can bring to your life. While some prefer to go to a shelter or new litter and see which pets stand out to them, it is important to understand the different types and the characteristics of each breed that falls within them. The following groups are based on the official list recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Sporting Dogs

The Sporting group features a collection of breeds that are utilized in small game and bird hunting. This type includes canines with a variety of temperaments and adaptations. Anyone interested in adopting a sporting dog will find everything from American Water Spaniels to English Setters and German Shorthaired Pointers.


Hounds should not be confused with the Sporting group even though they serve a similar purpose. Breeds in this category were bred for hunting and are excellent scent trackers. They can follow the trail of their prey and show relentless determination and a high level of stamina while working. This group includes the English Foxhound, Beagle and Bloodhound.

Working Dogs

It would be unfair to say that breeds that do not fall under the Working group do not perform any kind of actual work. In fact many of the other groups include breeds that serve a valuable purpose. This group is reserved for larger canines that perform jobs, such as search and rescue, guarding and messenger work. The AKC recognizes the Alaskan Malamute, Newfoundland, Doberman, Boxer, Golden Retriever and many more as members of the Working group.


Most breeds in the Terrier group are smaller in size but were still bred for an important task. This type of canine is skilled at hunting rodents and pests such as rats, mice, rabbits, weasels, foxes and otters. Owners would train them to enter holes and flush prey out. The word “terrier” is taken from the Latin word “terra,” which means “earth.” A few breeds in this group are large enough to be used as guard dogs. Popular examples include the Airedale Terrier, Scottish Terrier and Skye Terrier.


The Toy group contains the tiniest of all canines. These breeds are very small and are generally considered lap dogs. Some have been around since ancient times, where they provided companionship for their masters. A few were bred to be smaller versions of a larger hunting dog. Well-known toy breeds include the Chihuahua, Maltese and Pomeranian.

Non-Sporting Dogs

The Non-Sporting group is extremely varied and easily the most diverse of all breed groupings. This category includes many different types of dogs in a wide range of sizes that were bred for unique purposes. The AKC and CKC (Canadian Kennel Club) recognize the Non-Sporting group but other countries do not. Examples of AKC Non-Sporting dogs include the Bulldog, Dalmatian, American Eskimo and Chow Chow.

Herding Dogs

The Herding group is very popular, especially in rural regions. This collection of breeds includes high energy dogs that were made for controlling and guarding livestock. Although they had a defined purpose, many herding canines are favored today as family pets. This group includes breeds like the Australian Shepherd, Bearded Collie and Welsh Corgi.