The American Kennel Club Recognizes
Seven Main Groups Of Dogs

The American Kennel Club recognizes seven main groups of dogs as well as one miscellaneous category. Each group has distinct features and every dog breed belongs to one of the seven groups.

The American Kennel Club Recognizes 7 Dog Groups

Sporting Group

Dogs in the sporting group are naturally energetic and aware. Their energy gives them excellent endurance and their awareness makes them great hunting partners. Sporting dogs’ likeable nature makes them great companions and excellent pets. They have outstanding instincts in the water and woods. Many of these breeds actively participate in hunting and other outdoor and field activities. Sporting dogs need brisk, daily exercise which helps maintain their excellent obedience. Most have a sturdy frame, built for their willingness to work. Breeds currently listed in the AKC Sporting Group are as follows:

American Water Spaniel

Boykin Spaniel


Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Clumber Spaniel

Cocker Spaniel

Curly-Coated Retriever

Deutscher Wachtelhund

Drentsche Patrijshond

English Cocker Spaniel

English Setter

English Springer Spaniel

Field Spaniel

Flat-Coated Retriever

French Spaniel

German Longhaired Pointer

German Shorthaired Pointer

German Wirehaired Pointer

Golden Retriever

Gordon Setter

Irish Red and White Setter

Irish Setter

Irish Water Spaniel

Labrador Retriever

Lagotto Romagnolo

Nederlandse Kooikerhondje

N. S. Duck Tolling Retriever


Small Munsterlander Pointer

Spinone Italiano


Sussex Spaniel



Welsh Springer Spaniel

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Wirehaired Vizsla

Hound Group

Hounds use keen, and impressive, powers of scent to follow a trail or hunting game. Others exhibit their exceptional gift of endurance as they relentlessly run down prey. Endurance and an excellent sense of smell are shared by most hounds. These two traits display the hound’s common ancestral trait of being used for hunting. The Hound Group is comprised of quite a diverse assortment of characteristics, beyond endurance and a sense of smell. Some hounds share the ability to produce a distinctive sound known as baying, or a long, loud howl. Dogs howl for many different reasons, which include separation anxiety, medical reasons, and communicating with other animals/dogs.

Breeds currently listed in the Hound Group are as follows:

Afghan Hound

American English Coonhound

American Foxhound

American Leopard Hound



Basset Fauve de Bretagne

Basset Hound


Black and Tan Coonhound


Bluetick Coonhound


Cirneco dell’Etna



English Foxhound

Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen




Ibizan Hound

Irish Wolfhound

Norwegian Elkhound


Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen

Pharaoh Hound


Portuguese Podengo Pequeno

Redbone Coonhound

Rhodesian Ridgeback


Scottish Deerhound


Slovensky Kopov

Thai Ridgeback

Transylvanian Hound

Treeing Tennessee Brindle

Treeing Walker Coonhound


Working Group

Dogs in the Working Group were bred to do exactly that, work. History shows these dogs were bred to complete jobs such as guarding property, pulling sleds, and performing water rescues. They have been beyond helpful to their masters throughout time. Working dogs are intelligent, quick to learn, and they make great companions. They are considerably large with great strength, which increases their ability as guard dogs. Many working dogs may be considered unsuitable as pets for average families, especially if they are not trained properly. Although, it is very common to see all of these breeds fit into a family just fine. Sturdy builds and thick coats are common traits among working dogs to assist in physical tasks and for protection against harsh weather conditions.

Breeds currently listed in the Working Group are as follows:


Alaskan Malamute

Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Bernese Mountain Dog

Black Russian Terrier





Cane Corso

Caucasian Ovcharka

Central Asian Shepherd Dog


Czechoslovakian Vlcak

Danish-Swedish Farmdog

Doberman Pinscher

Dogue de Bordeaux


German Pinscher

Giant Schnauzer

Great Dane

Great Pyrenees

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog


Kai Ken

Karelian Bear Dog

Kishu Ken





Neapolitan Mastiff


Perro de Presa Canario

Portuguese Water Dog

Rafeiro do Alentejo


Saint Bernard


Siberian Husky


Spanish Mastiff

Standard Schnauzer

Tibetan Mastiff



Terrier Group

Dogs in this Group are well known for their fun and engaging personalities that have the tendancy to make owners heart’s melt. These are highly spirited, active dogs whose sizes range from fairly small, like the Cairn Terrier, to large, like the Airedale Terrier. Terriers typically have little tolerance for other animals, including other dogs. Their ancestors were bred to hunt and kill vermin. Vermin often hide in small spaces so Terriers were able to squeeze into tight corners to catch the vermin. Most Terriers have wiry coats that require stripping, a special type of grooming, in order to maintain their distinctive appearance. Terriers can be charming pets for any family to enjoy, but they require owners with determination to match their dogs’ energetic character.

Breeds currently listed in the Terrier group are as follows:

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

Miniature Bull Terrier

Miniature Schnauzer

Norfolk Terrier

Norwich Terrier

Parson Russell 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 Hair Fox Terrier


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Toy Group

Dogs in the Toy Group were bred to merely bring pure joy, dedication, and companionship. They are small in size and show great expression. Although dogs in this Group are among the smallest of all breeds, they are still tough. Protective Chihuahuas, for example, have quite a feisty bark and are often unwelcoming to strangers. Toy dogs are popular with those who have small living areas, such as city residents who live in apartments. Many breeds in this Group make great lap dogs and make easy travel companions because of their size. You can pretty much carry most of these dogs wherever you want to go.

Breeds currently listed in the Toy Group are as follows:



Brussels Griffon

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel


Chinese Crested

English Toy Spaniel


Italian Greyhound

Japanese Chin


Manchester Terrier

Miniature Pinscher






Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka

Shih Tzu

Silky Terrier

Toy Fox Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier

Non-Sporting Group

Non-sporting dogs are grouped together into one category but they have several different and diverse characteristics. Differences in size, coat, build, personalities, and overall appearance are present throughout the group. There are popular breeds in this Group, such as the Bulldog and the Lhasa Apso, and there are less common breeds, such as the Schipperke and Tibetan Spaniel. Not all kennel clubs use the non-sporting class because the group is so assorted it almost appears that the dogs shouldn’t be grouped together at all, but they may just not properly fit into any other group.

Breeds currently listed in the Non-Sporting Group are as follows:

American Eskimo Dog

Bichon Frise

Boston Terrier


Chinese Shar-pei

Chow Chow

Coton de Tulear



Finnish Spitz

French Bulldog




Lhasa Apso


Norwegian Lundehund

Poodle (miniature and standard)

Portuguese Pointer


Shiba Inu

Tibetan Spaniel

Tibetan Terrier


Herding Group

The Herding Group is the newest American Kennel Club classification. It joined the AKC in 1983. Breeds categorized in this group were formerly members of the Working Group. Although all of these breeds do make excellent working dogs, they were originally bred to herd, hence why they got their own grouping. All herding breeds share the ability to control the movement of other animals. Corgis, for example, are about 12 inches tall, and they have the talent to drive a herd of cows all around the pasture by jumping and nipping at their heels. Although they have this skill, many Herding dogs that are family pets rarely come across a herd of animals to put their expertise to use. These intelligent dogs are extremely trainable and make exceptional companions.

Breeds currently listed in the Herding Group are as follows:

Appenzeller Sennenhunde

Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Shepherd

Bergamasco Sheepdog

Bearded Collie


Belgian Malinois

Belgian Sheepdog

Belgian Tervuren

Berger Picard

Border Collie

Bouvier des Flandres


Canaan Dog

Cardigan Welsh Corgi

Catahoula Leopard Dog


Entlebucher Mountain Dog

Finnish Lapphund

German Shepherd

Icelandic Sheepdog

Miniature American Shepherd

Norwegian Buhund

Old English Sheepdog

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Polish Lowland Sheepdog

Portuguese Sheepdog



Pyrenean Mastiff

Pyrenean Shepherd


Shetland Sheepdog

Slovensky Cuvac

Spanish Water Dog

Swedish Lapphund

Swedish Vallhund

Working Kelpie

Miscellaneous Class

There are several hundred distinct breeds of purebred dogs, but not all of them are recognized by the American Kennel Club. Breeds in the Miscellaneous Class are breeds that are waiting to be considered by Judges of the American Kennel Club. When a breed shows that they are continuing a healthy growth, the Board of Directors of the American Kennel Club will then decide if they would like to admit the breed into a regular class and register them in the “Stud Book”. Changes are made to this class every year once breeds are moved into groups or new breeds are moved into the class.

Breeds currently listed in the Miscellaneous Class are as follows:


Belgian Laekenois

Biewer Terrier

Bracco Italiano

Braque du Bourbonnais

Dogo Argentino

Dutch Shepherd

Lancashire Heeler



Peruvian Inca Orchid

Portuguese Podengo

Russian Toy

Teddy Roosevelt Terrier

John Mattar
Kimberly Mattar
October 29, 2010
Updated August 1, 2019

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