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.

Bullmastiff

Bullmastiff

Fearless at work, docile at home, the Bullmastiff is a large, muscular guarder who pursued and held…

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Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terriers are happy, busy little earthdogs originally bred to fearlessly root out foxes and…

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Canaan Dog

Canaan Dog

One of the AKC's oldest breeds, the Canaan Dog is the national dog of Israel. This quick…

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Cane Corso

Cane Corso

Smart, trainable, and of noble bearing, the assertive and confident Cane Corso is a peerle…

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Cardigan Welsh Corgi

Cardigan Welsh Corgi

The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is a masterpiece of the breeder’s art: Every aspect of its makeup i…

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Carolina Dog

Carolina Dog

Carolina Dogs are generally shy and suspicious in nature, but once a dog accepts a human into i…

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Catahoula Leopard Dog

Catahoula Leopard Dog

The Catahoula Leopard Dog is a multi-purpose working dog that is well-muscled and powerful, bu…

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Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Caucasian Shepherd Dog

The Caucasian Shepherd dog is a serious guardian breed and should never be taken lightly. The…

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel wears his connection to British history in his breed’s name…

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Central Asian Shepherd Dog

Central Asian Shepherd Dog

The Central Asian Shepherd Dog is self-assured, balanced, quiet, proud and independe…

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Cesky Terrier

Cesky Terrier

The Cesky Terrier, national dog of the Czech Republic, is a clever and adventurous playmate fo…

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Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever, peerless duck dog of the Mid-Atlantic, is an American original who…

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