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Dog Breed Groups

Most people have one or two favourite dog breeds, and there’s a good chance you know a fair amount about them. What many people outside of the worlds of pedigreed dog breeding and breed shows don’t know is where all the different breeds belong in the various dog groups, or what they are.

Here is a brief description of what the different dog breed groups are, and what the general characteristics of dogs that fall into them are:

The Sporting Group

The sporting group were bred to assist hunters. Some, like Labradors were bred to fetch ducks and other game (hence the name “Retriever”) while others, like Spaniels run around close to the hunter, flushing out game and birds. Others, like Pointers, have the natural instinct to freeze and point to game or birds, so the hunter knows where to find them.

While most sporting dogs these days won’t be retrieving more than a ball, they still have a lot of their instincts, so don’t be surprised if they retrieve the new flowers you planted or are GREAT at flushing out your guests.

The Hound Group

Hounds are the detectives of the dog world. Some, like Greyhounds, are known as sight hounds for their excellent vision, while others, like Bloodhounds, are all about sniffing out everything and anything. They might not be hunting dogs as such, but they’re very good at pursuing pretty much anything using their remarkable senses.

The Working Group

Working dogs are dogs that have jobs. Some were bred to be sled dogs, some pulled carts, some minded herds of cows, and some were  guard dogs, but the working group were all bred for very specific purposes, and again, even if they don’t do the job anymore, the instincts haven’t disappeared.  

Working dogs love to participate in sports like carting, need lots of exercise, and do well with formal training.

The Terrier Group

Terriers come in all shapes and sizes, but they’re all scrappy, full of personality, and built tough. Some, like Fox Terriers and Australian Terriers were bred to control vermin while others, like Bullterriers were born to be tough fighters. While these breeds might not be keeping barns free of rats and snakes or fighting (and they definitely should not be!), the personality traits have stood the test of time.

Terriers are tough and strong willed, and they need owners who are able to keep up with them.

The Toy Group

Toy breeds were often created for royalty and aristocrats. Small, cute, fluffy dogs that sat on the laps of fancy ladies around the world, for many centuries. Times have changed, but toy breeds still like to be lap dogs that live with a little more luxury than their bigger cousins. But only a little.

Griffons, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Maltese and Chihuahuas all fall into the toy group, as do many other miniature breeds. The one thing they all have in common is their size. They’re made to be held, which they still love today (and we all love to oblige!)

The Non-Sporting Group

The non-sporting group might as well be called “miscellaneous” because it’s a bit of a mixed bag! Some of these breeds were bred for a particular purpose at one time, but today, they’re simply know as great companion dogs.

Pugs fall into this group, as do Bichon Frise. Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, Sharpeis, Dalmatians and Poodles all fall into this group too.

The Herding Group

If you’ve ever been herded by a Border Collie, you will know exactly what the herding group is all about. Collies, German Shepherds, Belgian Shepherds and Bouviers are all part of this group, and they all, to a varying degree, still have very well-developed herding instincts.

They tend to be very energetic and intelligent dogs, and many of these dogs also make great family pets.


Dogs truly are amazing creatures, and they’ve been our friends, companions and helpers for centuries. Whether you love a particular breed from one of these groups, or prefer mutts with mysterious origins, it doesn’t matter. Dogs make our lives infinitely better, whether they have a pedigree as long as your arm, or you can’t tell exactly what their parents were.

Aren’t we lucky that we get to share our lives with every wonderful furry one of them?

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