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.

Chow Chow

Chow Chow

The Chow Chow, an all-purpose dog of ancient China, presents the picture of a muscula…

See More
Cirneco dell’Etna

Cirneco dell’Etna

The sleek and sinewy Cirneco dell’Etna, the ancient coursing hound of Sicily, is an athletic…

See More
Clumber Spaniel

Clumber Spaniel

A dignified and mellow hunting companion of kings, the Clumber Spaniel is the largest of the AKC…

See More
Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniel

The merry and frolicsome Cocker Spaniel, with his big, dreamy eyes and impish personality, is one…

See More
Collie

Collie

The majestic Collie, thanks to a hundred years as a pop-culture star, is among the world’s mo…

See More
Coton de Tulear

Coton de Tulear

The Coton de Tulear, “Royal Dog of Madagascar,” is a bright, happy-go-lucky companion dog whose…

See More
Croatian Sheepdog

Croatian Sheepdog

The Croatian Sheepdog is an agile, helpful and humble shepherd dog, self-reliant to his owne…

See More
Czechoslovakian Vlcak

Czechoslovakian Vlcak

An alert, primitive canine that resembles a wolf in appearance. They are highly intellige…

See More
Dachshund

Dachshund

The famously long, low silhouette, ever-alert expression, and bold, vivacious personality of the…

See More
Dalmatian

Dalmatian

The dignified Dalmatian, dogdom's citizen of the world, is famed for his spotted coat and unique…

See More
Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Dandie Dinmont Terrier

The unique-looking Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a tough but dignified little exterminator. Sturdily…

See More
Danish-Swedish Farmdog

Danish-Swedish Farmdog

Known as the Little Big Dog, the Danish-Swedish Farmdog is a companion dog that loves to work and…

See More