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.

Spinone Italiano

Spinone Italiano

The Spinone Italiano, a densely-coated hunting dog, is sociable, docile, and patient, sometime…

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Stabyhoun

Stabyhoun

Although occasionally somewhat willful by nature, Stabyhouns are obedient, gentle, and patie…

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

From his brawling past, the muscular but agile Staffordshire Bull Terrier retains the traits of…

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Standard Schnauzer

Standard Schnauzer

The bold, bewhiskered Standard Schnauzer is a high-spirited farm dog from Germany. They are the…

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Sussex Spaniel

Sussex Spaniel

"Placid, affectionate, even-tempered, true-blue, loyal" — all are words used to describe the…

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Swedish Lapphund

Swedish Lapphund

Lively, alert, kind and affectionate. The Lapphund is very receptive, attentive and willing to…

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Swedish Vallhund

Swedish Vallhund

The long and low Swedish Vallhund, Viking Dog of ancient legend, is a smart and sociable herder of…

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Taiwan Dog

Taiwan Dog

The Taiwan Dog is extremely faithful to his master, keen in sense, alert in movement, bold and…

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Teddy Roosevelt Terrier

Teddy Roosevelt Terrier

The Teddy Roosevelt Terrier is a lively, friendly, affectionate dog with his family but can be…

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Thai Ridgeback

Thai Ridgeback

The Thai Ridgeback is tough and active, with an excellent jumping ability. He is highly…

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Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff

Watchful, aloof, imposing, and intimidating: The ancient Tibetan Mastiff is the guardian dog…

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Tibetan Spaniel

Tibetan Spaniel

The frisky and curious Tibetan Spaniel was bred ages ago for sentinel work on the walls of Tibeta…

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