By: Debbie Ray
Do you really want a new dog? Have you really thought about it long and hard? Why are you thinking about adding a new dog to your family in the first place? Do you have any idea what you’re looking for in a new doggie companion? What are you real needs in the dog itself? What do you really want your dog to do for you? There are a lot things to consider first before bringing home that new bundle of joy.
It is very important, first, to match your new dogs overall personality, exercise requirements and needs to you and your family as closely as possible. With luck you’re choosing an animal that is likely to be with you for 10 years or longer so put forth a little research time in the beginning and you’ll be rewarded for your efforts for years to come.
Were you aware that the common dog comes in more than 400 different breed types world wide? There is much more variation among our friend the family dog than in any other species of mammal known today. The selection of available dog types is truly amazing. They come in more sizes, shapes, colors, coat types, abilities and personalities than you could shake a bone at.
Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to find the right dog breed to fit your personality as well as your current lifestyle. Dogs, just like people, have many different jobs that they were bred for and most were bred for very specific activities. This is probably one of the most important things you need to know before you get the wrong dog for you. Example: If you are a couch potato you don’t want to bring home a dog breed with extreme energy – and a need to express that – or if you are a triathlete, you don’t want to bring home a new exercise partner with tremendously low exercise requirements.
Here I will list each of the major AKC dog groups, briefly describe their overall purpose and what the dogs were originally bred to do, list many of the jobs dogs in each particular group currently perform, as well listing as a few members of each group.
– The Herding Group
Bred for stamina, these super intelligent herding dog breeds work with their owners all day long out in the fields moving livestock. Overall, these energetic, intelligent herding dog breeds make excellent pets and work extremely well with different kinds of training such as Schutzhund, agility, flyball, search and rescue and obedience. Keep in mind, since these dogs were bred to do a particular job (herding), they do better when they have lots of exercise.
A few members of the AKC herding group are the German Shepherd, Australian Shepherd, Border Collie and Bouvier des Flandres.
– The Working Group
The dogs of the working group were bred to help man in many various jobs – from pulling sleds, guarding a home or tracking, to pulling carts, water rescues, and more. These particular dog breeds have been bred for several generations for very definite purposes and they need jobs to fill their days. They have very active minds, and are very trainable and willing to work – it is also true that these working dog breeds also require a lot of training.
Overall, the larger size, power and strength of many of the members of this group may make them unsuitable for most families, however they thrive with the right companions. Remember, since most were bred to work, they do best with lots of exercise and a specific task to do.
A few members of the AKC working group are the Boxer, Alaskan Malamute, Great Dane, Saint Bernard, and Rottweiler.
– The Hound Group
The members of the AKC hound group were bred to help man while hunting. Divided into 2 separate groups, the hounds track their prey using their wonderful senses of sight (called sight hounds) or smell (called scent hounds). The AKC Hound Dog group has some of the oldest dog breeds currently known to man today.
Many of these dogs are quite vocal based on their hunting background so it would be a good idea to hear their vocalizations before you decide to get a hound of your own. Also, it is a good idea to keep these dogs on a leash at all times since they can easily be led by their nose, or eyes, into trouble.
A few members of the AKC hound group are the Basset Hound, Beagle, Bloodhound, Greyhound and Rhodesian Ridgeback.
– The Terrier Group
The fiesty and energetic terrier group dog breed members were bred to hunt vermin both above and below ground and are often described as the “pest controllers” of the dog world. Typically these tenacious little dogs have little to no tolerance for any small fast moving animals, the postman, other dogs, etc. They are well known for their tenacious, fiesty and independent nature.
Terriers can make great pets in the right home but need a determined owner who matches their dogs’ spirited personality.
A few members of the AKC terrier group are the Airedale Terrier, Bull Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, Scottish Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier.
– The Toy Group
The toy group dog breeds were developed simply to be our companions. Their main job is to make their owners happy. The only things the members of this dog group have in common really is their petit size. The toy dogs are also called “lap dogs” sometimes because this is where many of these toy breeds prefer to stay, in their masters lap.
It is very true that the name “toy” is very misleading. Many of the toy dogs are as tough as nails. Toy dogs are especially popular with people that live in apartments or people without a lot of living space.
A few members of the AKC toy group are the Pomeranian, Chihuahua, Pug, Yorkshire Terrier and the Havanese.
– Non-sporting Group
The different purebred dog breeds in the non-sporting group are a wide collection of dogs in all different types of shapes, sizes, coat types, jobs types, personalities and overall appearances. Many people call this the AKC “catch-all” dog group. The diverse membership of the non-sporting group contains a little bit of everything – big dogs, little dogs, hairy dogs, bald dog breeds and some of the finest companion dogs you might possibly ever own.
A few members of the AKC non-sporting group are the Bulldog, Lhasa Apso, Dalmatian, Boston Terrier, French Bulldog, and Keeshond.
– The Sporting Group
Well known for their incredible instincts in both the water and woods, many of the members of this AKC sporting dog group continue to actively participate in hunting and other field trials today, actively retrieving and hunting feathered or furred game for their masters. The sporting dog breeds are well known also for their easy going temperaments.
Included in this group you’ll find the pointers, retrievers, setters and spaniels. Keep in mind that the sporting dogs do need regular exercise, frequently.
A few members of the AKC sporting group are the Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Irish Setter, Pointer and the Cocker Spaniel.
– Miscellaneous Dog Group
The many different dog breeds included in the AKC Miscellaneous Group are awaiting final breed recognition by the AKC. All dog breeds in this group may compete and earn titles in AKC Obedience, Tracking and Agility events.
Many of these individual dog breeds are ones that you may not see everyday but they can make great pets in the right homes. Research each of these breeds one by one since they have different working backgrounds such as hunting, herding or guarding.
As of the writing of this article, the current members of the AKC Miscellaneous Group are the Pyrenean Shepherd, Beauceron, Redbone Coonhound, Dogue de Bordeaux, Norwegian Buhund and the Swedish Vallhund.
If you’re like most people you probably have many unanswered questions about dogs in general. Hopefully armed with all the information above you will have a good idea of what dog breeds were originally bred to do and will better understand whether or not they will fit your individual needs. Finding the right dog breed for you is truly a very important process. The best way to do that is when armed with the knowledge to make a decision based totally on fact, not fiction or hear say.
Copyright 2007. Debbie Ray. All Rights Reserved.
Debbie Ray, former teacher and lifelong dog lover, is also owner of www.pedigreedpups.com , www.pedigreeddogs.com , www.total-german-shepherd.com and www.the-website-doctor.com . Interested in more internet or purebred dog related information? The German Shepherd? Need to promote your dog related website? Check out my sites for more info.