Standard Manchester Terrier standing in profile outdoors.
Manchester Terrier (Standard)

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 193 breeds.

Irish Red and White Setter

Irish Red and White Setter

The rollicking Irish Red and White Setter is an athletic medium-sized bird dog bred primarily fo…

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Irish Setter

Irish Setter

The Irish Setter is a high-spirited gundog known for grace, swiftness, and a flashy red coat. They…

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Irish Water Spaniel

Irish Water Spaniel

The tallest of the AKC’s spaniels, the Irish Water Spaniel is instantly recognizable by i…

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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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Kuvasz

Kuvasz

The Kuvasz is Hungary's majestic guardian breed and hunting companion of kings. A working dog of…

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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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Old English Sheepdog

Old English Sheepdog

The Old English Sheepdog is the archetypical shaggy dog, famous for his profuse coat and peak-a-boo…

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Otterhound

Otterhound

Big, boisterous, and affectionate, the Otterhound was bred in medieval England for the now-outlawed…

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Perro de Presa Canario

Perro de Presa Canario

The Perro de Presa Canario has a calm appearance and attentive expression. He is especially…

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Pointer

Pointer

The Pointer is the ultimate expression of canine power and grace. The breed’s name is its job…

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Rafeiro do Alentejo

Rafeiro do Alentejo

The Rafeiro do Alentejo is an excellent farm and estate watch dog. He is also a very useful…

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Redbone Coonhound

Redbone Coonhound

The streamlined Redbone Coonhound, an American original, is even-tempered, mellow, and kindly a…

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