Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, but did you know these shapes and sizes were a planned outcome? Dog breeds today have been selectively bred for millennia. Understanding what a specific breed of dog was bred for is important to know before choosing a pet. Many of the personalities and characteristics bred into a dog will be with them for their lifetime, and this should be considered when looking for a dog that will fit a household.
There are 7 major dog groups which differ in size, temperament, energy levels and habits. There also may be physical characteristics like shorter legs, longer noses, tail lengths or types of fur. All these traits play a part in what was expected of the dogs when they were bred for a specific purpose. Find below a description of these major dog groups and what you can expect from the average dog in each group.
THE SPORTING GROUP
The sporting group was originally bred to be a hunter’s companion and to help locate, flush out and retrieve game for the hunter. They include retrievers, pointers, setters and spaniels among others. They are very intelligent and gentle dogs, which is required of their job in a hunt. Because some of these breeds work both on land and in water, some breeds have water-repellant coats. They make great family pets and are high on the most popular breeds list. Because they were bred to hunt, they have a lot of energy and love outdoor sports and activities. They do not make good couch potatoes because they want to be active. They also make great service animals because of their intelligence and gentleness.
THE TERRIER GROUP
Terriers have high energy and a lot of attitude. They are self-confident which helps them in the jobs they were originally bred for. Terriers were bred for seeking out vermin and killing them. They were also bred to protect their family and farms. They are very territorial and have no fear of going after dogs bigger than themselves. They come in all sizes, although most have short legs, all were meant for digging and chasing. For this reason, they are best in a home with no small animals. They can be difficult to train because they are stubborn and obstinate. Terriers require a lot of exercise, even the smaller ones. They love to be active, and to be the center of attention. They are smart and will train for the right motivation.
THE HOUND GROUP
The hounds were superbly known for their use in hunting. They have special abilities to help them with this job, which include excellent sight and scent recognition. This helps them find and track their prey. They also are very quick which helps them to chase down what they are hunting. They can be stubborn and have a mind of their own. They tend to bay, which can be annoying if you or your neighbors don’t like the noise. Hounds are also loyal companions and most are good with children. Although they can be stubborn, they can be trained with a little persistence and consistency.
THE HERDING GROUP
The herding dog is a working dog with very special abilities bred into them. They were used for rounding up flocks of sheep, herds of cattle, and other animals. They are high energy, extremely intelligent and by far the easiest dogs to train. They are awesome for agility training, obedience training and herding competitions. They need to have physical and mental exercise and would do great for a person who likes to walk, run, or bike. They are usually medium sized dogs who get along with other dogs and are friendly with people. Their herding instincts can be seen in the family setting by how they may circle or “herd” children, and even the adults at times. They are loyal companions and are a great part of homes and families.
THE WORKING GROUP
The dogs in this group are just what the name signifies. They are best if they have a job to do. They are a powerful group, usually large in stature, and highly intelligent. They are fearless which makes them great dogs for service or police dogs. They are loyal and quick to learn. They need consistency in both training and in their home life. They can be protective of their families and territorial. They can be used to pull carts, stand guard, or used in water rescue. When taking a walk, you may want to put a sack made for dogs on them as they will feel they have a purpose.
THE TOY GROUP
Toy dog breeds get their name for their diminutive size. But ask any toy dog owner and they will tell you that their size is the only small thing about them. They generally have big personalities. Toy dog breeds are smart and full of energy. They can be very vocal, yipping at almost anything. They are affectionate and sociable and will generally not stray far from those they love. They shed less than their larger counterparts, eat less, and are physically easier to handle than the larger dogs. They can be difficult to train, but that has more to do with the owner than with the dogs. These small dogs are easy to baby, and so training them is harder to do when they can melt your heart with a kiss. They can adapt to most living situations, which make them a great pet for almost anyone.
THE NON-SPORTING GROUP
This dogs in this group are the most diverse of any other dog group. These dogs come from many varying backgrounds. They are a collection of dogs who once had a purpose which is no longer being used. One example of this is the Bulldog is not being used as a bull baiter. Another is the Keeshond which was bred as a watchdog on barges. The dogs in this group vary in sizes, coats, tails, appearances and personalities. Some are perfectly suited for apartments, while others need places to roam and run. If you choose a dog from this group, it is best to research what it was originally bred for, because it will probably still retain many of the original traits.
I hope I have given you at least an idea of what types of dogs are out there, what they were used for, and if they would be suitable as pets based on your family and housing situation. Almost any dog can make a good pet if you know what to expect from the breed and are prepared to work with the qualities, positive and negative, of that breed.