Pharaoh Hound sitting in three-quarter view facing forward
Pharaoh Hound

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 192 breeds.

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…

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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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Kuvasz

Kuvasz

The snow-white Kuvasz is Hungary's majestic guardian of flocks and companion of kings. A working…

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Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever

The sweet-faced, lovable Labrador Retriever is America’s most popular dog breed. Labs are…

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Lagotto Romagnolo

Lagotto Romagnolo

The Lagotto Romagnolo, Italy’s adorable “truffle dog,” sports a curly coat and lavish facial…

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Lakeland Terrier

Lakeland Terrier

A bold, zesty “big dog in a small package,” the Lakeland Terrier, named for the Lake Distric…

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Lancashire Heeler

Lancashire Heeler

The Lancashire Heeler is a medium to high energy dog. Intelligent, alert and friendly, they are…

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Lapponian Herder

Lapponian Herder

The Lapponian Herder is a medium-sized dog with a medium coat, making them easy to maintain and…

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Leonberger

Leonberger

The Leonberger is a lush-coated giant of German origin. They have a gentle nature and serene…

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