The American Kennel Club (AKC) exists to "advance the study, breeding, exhibiting, running and maintenance of purebred dogs." The AKC recognizes more than 150 dog breeds, placed within eight groups: herding, hound, nonsporting, sporting, terrier, toy, working and a miscellaneous class.
Herding. Herding dogs are intelligent and possess the natural ability to control the directional movement of other animals. Twenty-five breeds are in this group, including the Australian and German shepherd, Pembroke Welsh corgi and the border collie. The border collie is considered the worlds premier sheepherder. These dogs possess a strong natural instinct to herd, work hard and are good with families.
Hound. Dog breeds in the hound group share a variety of characteristics, including a good sense of smell and endurance. Hound breeds generally are used for hunting, and several make ideal family pets. Breeds in this group include the basset hound, beagle, bloodhound, English foxhound and the Irish wolfhound. The Irish wolfhound, standing about 34 inches tall at the shoulder, is the tallest breed of dog and a recognized AKC breed since 1897.
Nonsporting. The nonsporting group is a varied group featuring breeds that differ greatly in size, appearance and personality. Popular breeds include the bulldog, poodle, dalmatian and chow chow. The Boston terrier, part of the nonsporting group, originated in Boston, as its name suggests. According to the AKC, this breed is a true American creation, a cross between a white English terrier and the English bulldog.
Sporting. The breeds of the sporting group tend to be very active, energetic dogs but adapt well to families. These breeds have hunting instincts and are good choices as hunting companions. Sporting breeds include daschunds, spaniels, retrievers, pointers and setters like the Irish and English setter. The golden retriever, a sporting breed, boasts a water-repellant double coat and is a very friendly breed. Labrador and Golden retrievers often are used as assistance or service dogs.
Terrier. Known for their spirited personalities, terrier breeds include the Airedale, miniature schnauzer, Scottish terrier and the Welsh terrier. The American Staffordshire terrier is a friendly breed that can be a loyal family dog. In general, terriers make good companions but may not respond favorably to other animals in the household.
Toy. The toy breeds feature some of the smallest canines, including the Yorkie, Chihuahua and Pomeranian, which may weigh as little as 3 pounds. Toy breeds tend to be ideal pets for people with smaller living spaces. Most toy breeds have spunk and are fiercely loyal to their humans. Popular toy breeds are the toy poodle and the papillon, easily recognizable by its large fluffy ears.
Working. Working breeds are larger, heavier dogs and need ample living space. This group includes recognizable breeds such as the boxer, Great Dane, rottweiler, Saint Bernard and the Siberian husky. The Newfoundland, depite its massive size, makes a great family dog due to itsserene disposition.
Miscellaneous Class. This group consists of breeds not yet admitted into the AKC Stud Book, including the chinook, rat terrier and the Russell terrier.