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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.

Best Small Dog Breeds

There are 21 breeds in the AKC’s Toy group and similar numbers in the Toy groups of other countries. All of these breeds are small companion dogs. There are also small breeds in the Non-Sporting group of the AKC and the Utility group of other countries. When it comes to deciding which dogs make the best small dog breeds there are many breeds from which to choose. The selection really depends on what traits you are looking for in a small breed. You will find information below about some of the most popular small dog breeds around the world.

Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkshire Terrier, or “Yorkie,” was originally bred to hunt vermin and rats in the textile mills of northern England in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. However, he was such a beautiful dog that he was quickly taken up as a pet instead of a ratter. However, the Yorkie retains a terrier temperament. Yorkshire Terriers are bold and brave and they will stand up to large dogs. A Yorkie will take over your house if you don’t keep reminding him that you are the boss. Yorkies only weigh 4 to 7 pounds. They have a beautiful long, flowing coat though some owners prefer to keep them in a short cut.

Toy Poodle

The Toy Poodle is the smallest of the three Poodle varieties. The Poodle originated in Germany as a water retriever (pudel means “to splash” in German) but the breed was quickly appropriated by the French. Toy Poodles were used for truffle hunting because of their good noses and small size. They were also used as circus dogs because they were so smart and easy to train. The Toy Poodle is about 10 inches tall at the shoulder or less. Toy Poodles come in lots of different colors. You can keep your Toy Poodle in one of several different clips. However, most pet owners prefer to use a pet clip with short curly hair all over. Poodles do not shed and are known as “hypoallergenic” dogs, although no dog is completely hypoallergenic. They can make a good choice for someone who is usually allergic to dogs.

Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu has been around for hundreds of years and dates back to the time of the Chinese emperors. They were probably originally a cross between the Pekingese and the Lhasa Apso. They have been beloved as lap dogs and companions throughout the centuries. This breed was only brought to the West when they were discovered in the Imperial Palace by English soldiers in WWII. Shih Tzu are now very popular in the West. They stand about 8 to 11 inches tall and weigh up to 16 pounds. The Shih Tzu has a beautiful long, flowing coat. These are sweet, playful dogs. They make a lively, friendly, and alert companion.


The Chihuahua originated in Mexico. They are considered to be a very old breed and similar dogs are thought to have been used in native religious ceremonies centuries ago. Chihuahuas are very bright and alert dogs. They are bold and feisty. Chihuahuas are not recommended for small children but they should do well with older kids. These dogs can be quite devoted to their owner. However, they will try to rule the house if you don’t remind them that you are the boss. Chihuahuas can be either longcoated or shortcoated. They can weigh up to 6 pounds.


The Pomeranian is a Toy dog but they originated as part of the Spitz family of dogs. At one time this breed weighed around 30 pounds and they were used as sled dogs. In the last 200 years they have been bred down in size to weigh between 3 and 7 pounds today. They are confident, cheerful, friendly little dogs who make active, alert companions. Pomeranians are intelligent and love to please their owners. They do have a dense coat and take quite a bit of regular grooming.


The best small dog breeds will usually depend on what you are looking for in a dog. The breeds discussed here are some of the most popular small dog breeds in the world and many people love them. When looking for a dog you may want to start by considering these breeds. However, there are many other small dogs, so if these dogs don’t tempt you, you can find other breeds that may be more to your liking.