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.

Poodle (Miniature / Standard)

Poodle (Miniature / Standard)

Whether Standard, Miniature, or Toy, and either black, white, or apricot, the Poodle stands proudly…

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Poodle (Toy)

Poodle (Toy)

No matter his size, the Toy Poodle stands proudly among dogdom’s true aristocrats. Beneath the…

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Porcelaine

Porcelaine

The Porcelaine is elegant, energetic, and a fierce hunter; he is used for small game, driving i…

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Portuguese Podengo

Portuguese Podengo

Portuguese Podengos are lively, agile, playful, alert, highly intelligent but not always easy to…

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Portuguese Podengo Pequeno

Portuguese Podengo Pequeno

Classified as a hound, the alert and playful little Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is a quick, athletic…

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Portuguese Pointer

Portuguese Pointer

The Portuguese Pointer is a very old hunting breed bred to work closely with its handler. They are…

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Portuguese Sheepdog

Portuguese Sheepdog

The Portuguese Sheepdog is exceptionally intelligent and lively. Very devoted to the…

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Portuguese Water Dog

Portuguese Water Dog

The bright and biddable Portuguese Water Dog was bred to be an all-around fisherman’s helper. The…

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Pudelpointer

Pudelpointer

The Pudelpointer is a calm, self-controlled, versatile gun dog with a distinct hunting instinct and…

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Pug

Pug

Once the mischievous companion of Chinese emperors, and later the mascot of Holland’s royal House…

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Puli

Puli

No other breed can be mistaken for the Puli, a compact but powerful herder covered from head to…

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Pumi

Pumi

A compact, nimble-footed herder of Hungarian origin, the Pumi is easily recognized by a…

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