The AKC recognized 157 breeds for the year 2007. Each year new breeds may earn AKC recognition if they meet certain criteria including many generations of breeding, accurate recordkeeping, and a national club. New breeds introduced during a given year may have a special segment on televised dog shows to explain their characteristics.

Each breed of dog is categorized into a particular group. There are 7 recognized variety Groups and the Miscellaneous Class. The Miscellaneous Class is intended for breeds seeking AKC recognition as an interim state before approval and is not a regular group at most shows. The 7 recognized Groups are: Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding.

The Sporting Group breeds include pointers, retrievers, setters and spaniels. These breeds participate in hunting and field activities and as a companion dog tend to required lots of exercise. Popular breeds in this group include the Cocker Spaniel, Golden Retriever, Gordon Setter, Labrador Retriever, and some of our favorites are the Brittany, English Springer Spaniel, Irish Setter, and the Spinone Italiano.

Hounds are hunting dogs that may use sight, sound, scent, or a combination to track their prey. Some of our favorite hounds include the Afghan Hound, Greyhound, Pharaoh Hound, Saluki, and Whippet. You will also notice the Otterhound in this group. As the Ottherhound goes around the ring during Group judging we frequently hear, “What breed is that?… I think it’s an Airedale.” It is a common mistake. The Airedale was originally created by crossing the Otterhound with other breeds to create a more versatile working dog. You will notice the distinct black saddle of the Airedale on the Otterhound which is the source of most confusion.

The Working Group contains breeds originally used to perform tasks such as police work, sledding, and rescue. These breeds tend to be large in size and strength and for that reason owners should be willing and able to provide training when used as companion dogs. Our favorites include the Boxer, Doberman Pinscher, Great Dane, Mastiff, and Portuguese Water Dog. The Black Russian Terrier is a newer addition to this group, added in 2004. You might find that is looks slightly familiar. The breed was developed through selective breeding of, among other breeds, the Rottweiler, Giant Schnauzer, and, you guessed it, the Airedale. Another interesting breed is the Komondor which has a protective white coat of cords.

The Terrier Group, to which the Airedale belongs, consists of breeds typically bred to hunt vermin. They are energetic dogs with wiry coats that are typically “stripped” verses cut like other breeds. Terriers may be “sparred” in the ring which is done to test temperament. (More on sparring in a future article.) Breeds in this group include the Cairn Terrier, Glen of Imaal Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier, and Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. You may notice the Welsh Terrier which look very much like an Airedale in miniature, although it is not, with the distinct black saddle. Two similar looking breeds, the Norfolk Terrier and the Norwich Terrier, are found in this group. The obvious difference between the breeds is the ears which are down on the Norfolk and up on the Norwich. If you can remember that a witch’s hat is pointed up for the Nor-“wich” then you will never mistake the two breeds again.

Toy breeds tend to be smaller in size and originally bred to be companion animals. This is a fun group to watch with some very distinct breeds including the Chihuahua, Havanese, Maltese, Pug, and Yorkshire Terrier. Of course our favorite in this group is the Italian Greyhound, which is a Greyhound bred down for size as a companion animal. It is called the “Italian” Greyhound due to its popularity in Italy at one time. The Chinese Crested is a distinct breed that comes in an almost completely hairless variety as well as the haired or “powder puff” variety. The Pekingese is always a crowd pleaser, it wasn’t until while watching a televised show that I learned this breed is simply a long haired version of the Pug. The always popular Miniature Poodle might be a dog to watch for Best In Show this weekend.

The Non-Sporting Group is a varied bunch. Breeds include the Boston Terrier, English Bulldog, Chow Chow, Dalmation, and the Lhasa Apso. Our favorite, again a given, is the French Bulldog.

The final group, Herding, was created in 1983 to divide the Working Group. These breeds quite simply perform herding. Breeds include the Australian Shephard, Border Collie, Collie, and German Shephard Dog. One of our favorites is the Bouvier des Flandres. Two varieties of Corgi belong to this group, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, the difference being the tail. The Cardigan has quite a long tail, while the Pembroke has none (as though it has been “broke” off).

Tomorrow… Behind the scenes, what they don’t show you during a televised dog show.

Still have questions about how dog breeds are classified into groups?? Want to know what Group your favorite breed is in?? Let us know by Sharing Your Comments and we will get those questions answered before we move on to the next topic.