Article by Valerie Goettsch
As you begin your search for a dog, you are probably asking yourself, “What type of dog would be best for me?” Dogs come in many different sizes, colors, coats, and personalities. Start your dog ownership off on the right foot by doing your research before you settle on a breed.
While there are around 400 recognized breeds, the best place to start is by looking at the approx. 155 breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club, broken down into seven broad categories. Within each breed category are subgroups.
Sporting GroupSporting dogs were originally bred to help man hunt birds by retrieving the birds from water or bushes. Nature has conditioned them to retrieve; they also love fetching balls and newspapers, and they make great companions. Members of the Sporting Group include retrievers, pointers, setters, and spaniels. A naturally active breed, regular brisk exercise is a must with these dogs to avoid excessive chewing, jumping and barking.
Hound GroupHounds were originally bred for hunting. There are three main subgroups: scent hounds, sighthounds, and large game hounds. Sighthounds make gentle pets, but they love to run after fast-moving targets. They include the Greyhound, Irish Wolfhound, and Whippet. Scent hounds follow their nose and it can be difficult to get their attention when they are on the trail of something. They are sweet, loving, and make good companions. Among them are the Beagle and Bloodhound. Large game hounds like the Rhodesian Ridgeback were bred to hunt lions, elk and other game. They are powerful, fearless and make good watch dogs.
Working GroupThe breeds in this group were bred to help man. Their jobs range from rescue to sledding and guarding. They are intelligent, learn quickly, and make good companions. However, most of them are very large, strong dogs and they may not be suitable for families with young children. Proper training is very important with these breeds. Among the breeds are sled dogs like the Siberian Husky and Samoyed; draft dogs that were bred to pull heavy loads like the Bernese Mountain Dog; guard dogs including the Bullmastiff, Rottweiler and Akita; and rescue/water dogs such as the Newfoundland and Saint Bernard.
Herding GroupDogs in the herding group were, you’ve guessed it, bred to herd. They are lively, agile, alert, respond well to training, and make great pets. They love lots of exercise and if they can’t find a sheep to herd they will happily (and gently) herd their owners or children. Herding dog include the Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, German Shepherd, Old English Sheepdog, Cardigan Welsh Corgi and Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
Non-Sporting GroupOriginally many of these dogs were working dogs, but these days they are mainly companions. These breeds vary widely in size, coat, temperament, and personality. Among the diverse breeds are the Bichon Frise, Chow Chow, French Bulldog, Keeshond, Poodle, and Schipperke.
Terrier GroupTerriers are a determined bunch, and original bred as either vermin hunters or fighting breeds. Vermin hunters are lively, independent and do best on a leash when outdoors. Terriers can become barkers or chewers if not properly trained, and sometimes can get aggressive over food or toys. The fighter group includes the Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier. They can make good pets if properly trained and socialized, but without training they can be a possible danger to people and other dogs.
Toy GroupThe Toy breeds are very small, playful, devoted to their owners, and love and demand attention. Their main purpose is to be adorable and they are terrific lapdog. They need less exercise than other breeds and do well in apartments or other small quarters, and are a good choice for older people. Some, however, may bark or snap if they are not trained. Toy Breeds include the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Maltese, Pekinese, Pug, and Toy Poodle.
By doing your research before you choose a breed, you’ll be a big step ahead in finding the dog that fits your personality and lifestyle, and you’ll have a great companion for years to come.
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