Chihuahua standing in three-quarter view.
Chihuahua

What's a dog breed?

People have been breeding dogs since prehistoric times. The earliest dog breeders used wolves to create domestic dogs. From the beginning, humans purposefully bred dogs to perform various tasks. Hunting, guarding, and herding are thought to be among the earliest job…

What's a dog breed?

People have been breeding dogs since prehistoric times. The earliest dog breeders used wolves to create domestic dogs. From the beginning, humans purposefully bred dogs to perform various tasks. Hunting, guarding, and herding are thought to be among the earliest jobs eagerly performed by the animal destined to be called “man’s best friend.”

For thousands of years, humans bred dogs toward the physical and mental traits best suited for the work expected of them. The sleek Greyhound types bred to chase fleet-footed prey, and the huge mastiff types used as guard dogs and warriors, are two ancient examples of dogs bred for specific jobs.

As humans became more sophisticated, so did their dogs. Eventually, there emerged specific breeds of dogs, custom-bred to suit the breeders’ local needs and circumstances. The Greyhound, for instance, was the foundation type for the immense Irish Wolfhound and the dainty Italian Greyhound. All three have a distinct family resemblance, but you’d never mistake one for another.

So, then, when is a breed a breed and not just a kind or type of dog? The simplest way to define a breed is to say it always “breeds true.” That is, breeding a purebred Irish Setter to another purebred Irish Setter will always produce dogs instantly recognizable as Irish Setters.

Each breed’s ideal physical traits, movement, and temperament are set down in a written document called a “breed standard.” For example, the breed standard sets forth the traits that make a Cocker Spaniel a Cocker Spaniel and not a Springer Spaniel.

The AKC standard for each breed originates with a “parent club,” the AKC-recognized national club devoted to a particular breed. Once approved by the AKC, a standard becomes both the breeder’s “blueprint” and the instrument used by dog show judges to evaluate a breeder’s work.

There are over 340 dog breeds known throughout the world. The American Kennel Club recognizes 197 breeds.

Japanese Akitainu

Japanese Akitainu

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Japanese Chin

Japanese Chin

The Japanese Chin is a charming toy companion of silky, profuse coat and an unmistakably…

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Japanese Spitz

Japanese Spitz

The Japanese Spitz are little comedians who want to make you happy and laugh. They are very loyal…

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Japanese Terrier

Japanese Terrier

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Jindo

Jindo

Loyal, watchful, and intelligent, the Jindo developed as a breed on an island off the coast of…

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Kai Ken

Kai Ken

The Kai Ken is a medium-sized dog and is one of the six native Japanese breeds or Nihon Ke…

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Karelian Bear Dog

Karelian Bear Dog

The Karelian Bear Dog is an eager hunter and very independent, yet works cooperatively to…

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Keeshond

Keeshond

The amiable Keeshond is a medium-sized spitz dog of ample coat, famous for the distinctive…

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Kerry Blue Terrier

Kerry Blue Terrier

Among the largest of AKC terriers, the Kerry Blue Terrier is famous for his show-stopping blue…

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Kishu Ken

Kishu Ken

The Kishu Ken is a dog of noteworthy endurance, showing nobility, dignity, and naive feeling. Hi…

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Komondor

Komondor

A powerfully large Hungarian flock guardian covered in profuse white cords from head to tail, the…

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Kromfohrlander

Kromfohrlander

The Kromfohrlander is a medium-sized companion breed that is sensitive, loving and loyal to i…

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