Meet The AKC Breed Groups

Meet the Breeds is an event hosted every year by the American Kennel Club (AKC), held in NYC. It is a fun opportunity for people around the tri-state area to go meet and learn about all the different types of dogs they might be interested in adding to their family. If you're looking for a new dog I do encourage people to go! It’s fun, it's educational and it is important to do research before bringing a dog into your home. There are way too many individual breeds for me to introduce in this blog post, but I have highlighted each of the seven different breed groups that the AKC recognize.

We’ve performed in trials, but never in a context similar to this. For the first time ever we were performing in front of hundreds of people. And not only that, but I felt like Dustin was representing all rescue dogs since he was one of only a couple in the building that day, and we were at an event dedicated to purebred pups. 

As soon as we stepped into the ring he was focused, engaged, and working beautifully. Not without any stress, it was loud, he was in a new environment, hundreds of people were watching, and there were dogs all over the place. But he did it! He did a whole bunch of tricks, starting with a jump through legs, and ending with a jump onto my back. He had fun, and I honestly felt like he could have kept going.

Later in the afternoon, he participated in a scent work demo. Once again he was ready, focused, and eager to work. He had fun, and found all the scents he was supposed to!

He proved that rescue dogs can do all the same things purebred dogs can do. It’s up to the owner to invest the time into the training. 

I am so so so proud of Dustin for how he performed. I can honestly say it was the hardest environment I have thrown him into and not only did he do well, he (more importantly) had fun!

Since Dustin is a mixed breed he is not represented by any of the AKC breed groups, but Meet the Breeds is a fantastic way to find out about the various breeds. Below I have highlighted each breed group and its unique characteristics. 

Sporting Group

Brittany Spaniel

Breeds in the Sporting Group were bred to assist hunters in the capture and retrieval of feathered game. It was important they could locate and expose prey without damaging it. They were the first dog’s bred to work closely at a human’s side in a true partnership. Dog’s in the sporting group typically make very successful human companions.

Today there are several subgroups within the working dog family. Retrievers, built for swimming, specialize on waterfowl, while the hunting grounds of setters, spaniels, and pointing breeds are grasslands where quail, pheasant, and other game birds nest. Many Sporting Group breeds possess thick, water-repellant coats resistant to harsh hunting conditions.

Examples include: American Cocker Spaniel, American Water Spaniel, Brittany, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Clumber Spaniel, Curly-Coated Retriever, English Cocker Spaniel, English Setter, English Springer Spaniel, Field Spaniel, Flat-Coated Retriever, German Shorthaired Pointer, German Wirehaired Pointer, Golden Retriever, Gordon Setter, Irish Setter, Irish Water Spaniel, Labrador Retriever, Lagotto Romagnolo, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Pointer, Spinone Italiano, Sussex Spaniel, Vizsla, Weimaraner, Welsh Springer Spaniel, Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Hound Group


All breeds in the Hound Group were bred to pursue warm-blooded quarry. The sleek, long-legged sighthounds date back to Ancient Egypt and the Middle East. They are one of the oldest groups of specialized dogs. They were bred for their ability to perceive prey and their speed to acquire it. Over time they developed their uniquely narrow skulls which allowed for increased peripheral vision.

Today they use explosive speed and wide vision to chase swift prey, like jackrabbits and antelope. Scent Hounds date back to the middle ages and were bred for their olfactory abilities which gave them a persistent commitment to follow a scent, even in rough conditions. Today, scent hounds rely on their powerful noses to trail anything from raccoons to escaped convicts. Members of the Hound Group possess strong prey drives and often will stop at nothing to catch their quarries.

Examples include: Afghan Hound, American English Coonhound, American Foxhound, Basenji, Basset Hound, Beagle, Black and Tan Coonhound, Bloodhound, Bluetick Coonhound, Borzoi, Cirneco Dell’Etna, Dachshund, English Foxhound, Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen, Greyhound, Harrier, Ibizan Hound, Irish Wolfhound, Norwegian Elkhound, Otterhound, Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, Pharaoh Hound, Plott hound, Portuguese Podengo Pequeno, Redbone Coonhound, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Saluki, Scottish Deerhound, Sloughi, Treeing Walker Coonhound, Whippet

Toy Group

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Toy dogs originated in China and Europe where they were bred to be highly social with people as companions for the rich. Their earliest jobs included being a heating pad, a flea magnet, and an alarm system.

Today the diminutive breeds of the Toy Group come in enough coat types and colors to satisfy nearly any preference, but all are small enough to fit comfortably in the lap of their adored humans. In a way, toys dogs are their own version of working dogs: they work hard at being attentive, affectionate companions. Breeds in the Toy Group are popular with city dwellers, as their small size makes them a good fit for smaller yards or apartments.

Examples Include: Affenpinscher, Brussels Griffon, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Chinese Crested, English Toy Spaniel, Havanese, Italian Greyhound, Japanese Chin, Maltese, Manchester Terrier, Miniature Pinscher, Papillon, Pekingese, Pomeranian, Poodle (Toy), Pug, Shih Tzu, Silky Terrier, Toy Fox Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier

Herding Group

Swedish Valhund

The Herding Group dates back to 55 BC and to this day continues to be specialized. After livestock was domesticated people developed herding breeds to control the animals. Herding dogs work closely and intensely with their human shepherds, and their natural intelligence and responsiveness make them highly trainable.

Today, some Herding breeds, such as the German Shepherd Dog, are commonly trained for police work. The high levels of energy found in Herding Group breeds means finding them a job is recommended, lest they begin herding your children at home.

Examples include: Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Shepherd, Bearded Collie, Beauceron, Belgian Malinois, Belgian Sheepdog, Belgian Tervuren, Bergamasco, Berger Picard, Bernese Mountain Dog, Boerboel, Border Collie, Bouviers des Flandres, Briard, Canaan Dog, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Collie, Entlebucher Mountain Dog, Finnish Lapphund, German Shepherd Dog, Giant Schnauzer, Great Swiss Mountain Dog, Icelandic Sheepdog, Kerry Blue Terrier, Miniature American Shepherd, Norwegian Buhund, Norwegian Elkhound, Old English Sheepdog, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Puli, Pumi, Pyrenean Shepherd, Shetland Sheepdog, Swedish Vallhund

Working Group

Anatolian Shepherd

Breeds in the Working Group are dogkind’s punch-the-clock, blue-collar workers, and the group includes some of the world’s most ancient breeds. They were developed to assist humans in some capacity – including pulling sleds and carts, guarding flocks and homes, and protecting their families – and many of these breeds are still used as working dogs today. Breeds in the Working Group tend to be known for imposing stature, strength, and intelligence.

Examples include: Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Anatolian Shepherd Dog, Bernese Mountain Dog, Black Russian Terrier, Boerboel, Boxer, Bullmastiff, Cane Corso, Chinook, Doberman Pinscher, Dogo Argentino, Dogue de Bordeaux, German Pinscher, Giant Schnauzer, Great Dane, Great Pyrenees, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Komondor, Kuvasz, Leonberger, Mastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff, Newfoundland, Portugese Water Dog, Rottweiler, Saint Bernard, Samoyed, Siberian Husky, Standard Schnauzer, Tibetan Mastiff

Terrier Group

Irish Terrier

The feisty, short-legged breeds in the Terrier Group were first developed in the 1300s to go underground in pursuit of rodents and other vermin. They are considered the world’s first pest control.  Long-legged terrier breeds dig out varmints rather than burrowing in after them, while the group’s “bully” breeds, created long ago for ghastly pursuits like bull-baiting, are popular companion dogs today. 

Examples include: Airedale Terrier, American Hairless Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Australian Terrier, Bedlington Terrier, Border Terrier, Bull Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Cesky Terrier, Dandie Dinmont Terrier, Glen of Imaal Terrier, Irish Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier, Lakeland Terrier, Manchester Terrier (standard), Miniature Bull Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, Norfolk Terrier, Norwich Terrier, Parson Russel Terrier, Rat Terrier, Russell Terrier, Scottish Terrier, Sealyham Terrier, Skye Terrier, Smooth Fox Terrier, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Welsh Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, Wire Fox Terrier

Non-sporting Group

English Bulldog

The breeds of the Non-Sporting Group have two things in common: wet noses and four legs. After that, there’s not much shared by this patchwork group of breeds whose job descriptions defy categorization in the six other groups, though they all have fascinating histories. Today, the varied breeds of the Non-Sporting Group are largely sought after as companion animals, as they were all developed to interact with people in some capacity.

Examples include: American Eskimo Dog, Bichon Frise, Boston Terrier, Bulldog, Chinese Shar-Pei, Chow Chow, Coton de Tulear, Dalmatian, Finnish Spitz, French Bulldog, Keeshond, Lhasa Apso, Lowchen, Norwegian Lundehund, Poodle (miniature), Poodle (standard), Schipperke, Shiba Inu, Tibetan Spaniel, Tibetan Terrier, Xoloitzcuintil 

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