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.

Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise

The small but sturdy and resilient Bichon Frise stands among the world’s great “personality…

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Biewer Terrier

Biewer Terrier

The Biewer Terrier is an elegant, longhaired, tri-colored toy terrier whose only purpose in life i…

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Black and Tan Coonhound

Black and Tan Coonhound

Large, athletic hunters who work nights, Black and Tan Coonhounds are friendly, easygoing hound…

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Black Russian Terrier

Black Russian Terrier

The Black Russian Terrier is a large, immensely powerful worker of heavy bone and coarse all-black…

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Bloodhound

Bloodhound

The world famous “Sleuth Hound” does one thing better than any creature on earth: find people…

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Bluetick Coonhound

Bluetick Coonhound

The sleekly beautiful Bluetick Coonhound is a sweet and affectionate charmer who might enjoy…

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Boerboel

Boerboel

Boerboels are intimidating but discerning guardians of home and family who learned their trade…

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Bolognese

Bolognese

A small companion breed originating in Italy, the Bolognese is a calm, faithful dog with a long…

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Border Collie

Border Collie

A remarkably bright workaholic, the Border Collie is an amazing dog—maybe a bit too amazing fo…

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Border Terrier

Border Terrier

Admirers of the upbeat and agile Border Terrier cherish their breed’s reputation as a tough…

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Borzoi

Borzoi

Among the most impressively beautiful of all dogs, the aristocratic Borzoi is cherished for hi…

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Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier

The Boston Terrier is a lively little companion recognized by his tight tuxedo jacket, sporty bu…

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