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.

Bouvier des Flandres

Bouvier des Flandres

They don’t build ’em like this anymore. Burly and barrel-chested, the tousle-coated dog of…

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Boxer

Boxer

Loyalty, affection, intelligence, work ethic, and good looks: Boxers are the whole doggy package…

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Boykin Spaniel

Boykin Spaniel

A medium-sized flushing and retrieving dog known for its rich brown coat, the Boykin Spaniel i…

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Bracco Italiano

Bracco Italiano

The Bracco Italiano is one of the oldest of the pointing breeds. It was introduced into the United…

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Braque du Bourbonnais

Braque du Bourbonnais

Pronounced brock-do-bor-bon-NAY, this pointer has a calm, gentle demeanor that is ideally suited…

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Braque Francais Pyrenean

Braque Francais Pyrenean

The Braque Francais Pyrenean is a rustic breed and hails from France. In English, he is the French…

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Briard

Briard

The Briard packs so much loyalty, love, and spirit into its ample frame that it's often described…

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Brittany

Brittany

Sportsmen on both sides of the Atlantic cherish the agile, energetic Brittany as a stylish and…

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Broholmer

Broholmer

Calm, good-natured, yet watchful and confident, the Broholmer hails from Denmark and makes a grea…

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Brussels Griffon

Brussels Griffon

Tipping the scales at no more than 12 pounds, this humanlike toy of complex character has enough…

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Bull Terrier

Bull Terrier

Among the most comical and mischievous citizens of dogdom, the Bull Terrier is playful and…

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Bulldog

Bulldog

Kind but courageous, friendly but dignified, the Bulldog is a thick-set, low-slung, well-muscled…

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