What are the 7 Main Groups of Dogs? Part I

7 main groups of dogs

There are many kinds of dogs out there. Breeds of all temperaments, shapes, colors and more are increasingly unique. And different dog breeds can combine to make increasingly complex dog breeds. Even without mixing breeds, dogs can have a wide array of complexity. A dog can be bred with certain traits in mind, which eventually create a new sub-type.

All this complexity requires simplification of some sort. The best example of dog breed simplification is in dog shows. Dogs are separated into their rough function. Today, we'll look at a few of these 7 main groups and learn a bit more about what makes our furry friends special.



Only one group isn't truly defined by their function but rather their non-function. That is the "non-sporting" group and they have some profound differentiation! Do you see anything in common between the Bulldog and the Poodle? Or a Chow Chow and a Dalmation? They don't necessarily share similar traits, but the one thing they do all share is that they aren't huntsmen. They also don't have the same energy level or destructive tendencies as sporting dogs…….. except for maybe the Shiba Inu. Shiba Inu puppies are known for being rowdy.

So, they make great companion dogs for everyone, even if you don't exercise as much. A border collie will need more time to run than a bulldog, and non-sporting dogs are also less likely to run away than their hunting dog counterparts. Many Hounds will set the ground on fire chasing a squirrel or small mammal.



These guys don't have a job other than being the cutest! Toy dogs receive their name for being quite literally toy-sized! Their biggest heavyweights come out at a whopping 15 pounds, sometimes a little more, which is why they're so intimidating!    Ly cute.

The only violence these dogs participate in is being violently adorable. They are known to be lap dogs and are all too happy to oblige. Chihuahuas want nothing more than to sit in your lap, and pugs will happily snort and skip all the way into snuggle time. This group also has some range like the fuzzy Affenpinscher and the Silky Terrier. You might have noticed that Terriers are their own group of dogs. But Silky Terriers, and Boston Terriers, are so small that they get included in the toy dog group. In the case of Boston Terriers, they can't seem to stay in one place because they are included in the non-sporting group by the AKC! 

Think of groupings as helpful guideposts that aren't quite exact. For example, your Silky Terrier might have more spunk than your average toy dog, along with the King Charles Spaniel, who also has ample energy reserves. Toy dogs have so much range because the main shared trait is their size! In most cases, they also share their willingness to snuggle. These little guys range from sleepy lapdogs to little athletes. 

More than anything, these dogs are just happy to be around you! They make the best option for indoor dog living because they tend to need less exercise and eat less. If you're looking for a fun companion in a small package, toy dogs are where to be.



Then there are terriers. They had one job when they were first bred. High energy and ready to spring to action at a moment's notice, they hunt vermin and take their job seriously. Some were eventually bred to be less aggressive, such as the Boston terrier. The AKC technically recognizes the Boston Terrier as a non-sporting dog for such reason. But some terriers remained in their roots.

The rat terrier still is the fierce vermin huntsman they were bred to be. No small mammal is ready to withstand the chase! Except, chances are you aren't taking them hunting for rodents. So, if you decide to get a Rat Terrier and don't take them hunting often, you may find your doggy is a bit more docile.


Feel Less Confused?

The dog groups aren’t so confusing once you look into them a bit. Hopefully, the discussion between breeds and groups is more approachable for you now. If you’re still a bit confused about the dog groups don’t worry!

These are just the first three of the dog groups we'll cover. They encompass the non-hunting and less active category of dogs, with a few exceptions. You might see a few dogs who still have a bit of the hunt left in them, or you might even have a little pug that's convinced he's the toughest guy in town. But generally speaking, these dogs aren't the hunting type. Next time, we'll look at all the different active groups of dogs.

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