What Are the 7 Major Groups of Dogs

7 major groups of dogs
7 major groups of dogs

In the dog world, it is not uncommon to hear about the American Kennel Club (AKC), and how important it is for breeding dogs. The AKC has 7 major groups of dogs that are all organized by the original work that each dog breed was developed to do.

And while you may think of your favorite dog breed as a single group, they might actually be in more than one!

In this article you will learn:

  • The main purpose of the American Kennel Club 
  • The 7 major dog groups
  • The history behind each dog group
  • Some examples of dogs that belong to each group

More Reading: The AKC Full List of Dog Breeds by Group

What Are The 7 Major Groups of Dogs?

The American Kennel Club, for AKC dog show purposes, divides all pure breed dogs into 7 major groups of dogs.

They are:

  • Sporting Dog Group
  • Working Dog Group
  • Hound Dog Group
  • Toy Dog Group
  • Herding Dog Group
  • Terrier Dog Group
  • Non-sporting Dog Group – this group is for dogs that cannot be grouped into the above categories.

What is the purpose of the American Kennel Club?

The American Kennel Club was founded in 1884 to “promote and improve the welfare of dogs.”

The organization maintains a list of purebred dog breeds known as the National Breed Registry, which is used by many AKC-accredited breed clubs.

It also organizes various events for purebred dogs including agility trials, obedience training classes, and conformation shows.

The 7 Major Groups of Dogs

The AKC groups their dog breeds into seven major groups. While each dog breed may fit into more than one group, they are usually found predominately under just one category. 

A dog breed group is a division of dogs by an established common descent and characteristic appearance.

Each has been historically bred for a specific purpose, whether it be hunting or just companionship. 

The Sporting Dog Group

The sporting dog breeds were bred to aid hunters. They helped by either flushing out prey or retrieving the killed game.

Sporting dogs have webbed feet with thick fur on their paws which help keep them warm when working in wet conditions such as snow or icy ponds.

These dogs are known for their intelligence as well as being friendly with everyone they meet!

Sporting Dog breeds include:

  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador Retriever
  • English Cocker Spaniel
  • Irish Setter

The Working Dog Group

This dog breed was bred to work alongside humans and perform specific tasks such as herding livestock, pulling carts full of goods or guarding property.

They are athletic-looking breeds with an intense focus on their owners.

These dogs are intelligent, powerful and alert.

Working Dog breeds include:

  • German Shepherd
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Siberian Husky
  • Mastiff

The Hound Group

These dogs were developed to hunt by scent and sight. They have a keen sense of smell, large floppy ears that help them pick up on sound at great distances and a lean body for speed when chasing prey! 

They are suited to a number of different purposes including hunting, guarding and being a great companion dog.

Hound dogs are notoriously difficult to train and always seem to get distracted by smells.

Some hound dogs make a sound that is known as baying. You should listen to this sound before you get a dog.

Hound Dog breeds include:

  • Afghan Hound
  • Beagle
  • Bassett Hound
  • Irish Wolfhound

More Reading: The Afghan Hound – Majestic and Elegant

The Toy Dog Group

The Toy Group is made up of toy breeds from around the world.

Toy dogs were bred as companions to entertain people with their playful antics. 

They usually weigh less than 15 pounds and are typically friendly, playful breeds.

These dogs make wonderful family pets because they love being with their people all day long!

In fact, it would be rare to find these pups outside enjoying free time at any point during the day since they prefer spending every moment possible curled up in your lap! 

They are suitable for city living because they do not require a lot of exercise, but make sure to keep them on a leash when out and about.

Toy Dog breeds include:

  • Shih Tzu
  • Pomeranian
  • Pug
  • Chihuahua 

The Herding Dog Group

These dogs were bred to herd and protect livestock such as cattle, sheep and horses.

They have a strong instinct to keep the pack close together which is why they are often chosen for families with small children who can get lost so easily! 

Herding Dog Breeds include:

  • Australian Shepherd
  • Border Collie
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Welsh Corgi

Terrier Dog Group

These dogs were developed to hunt vermin, most notably rats.

They are feisty and bold with a strong prey drive which is why they should not be trusted around small household pets.

Terriers have short coats but come in all shapes and sizes! 

Terrier Dog Breeds include:

  • Airedale Terrier
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Scottish Terrier

More Reading: The Airedale Terrier – Spirited and Intelligent

Non Sporting Dogs Group

These dogs don’t fit into any other groups because their original purpose has been lost over time or never existed at all.

One thing these pups do share however is their intelligence and love of learning new tricks. 

Non Sporting Dogs breeds include:

  • Bichon Frise
  • Chow Chow
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Boston Terrier

More Reading: The Bichon Frise – Cheerful and Affectionate

Final Thoughts:

Dogs are grouped in to seven main groups, and each group has its own distinctive characteristics.

The American Kennel Club uses these 7 categories to determine which dogs will be exhibited at AKC dog shows.

You can use this information when deciding what type of dog is right for you or your family! 

Did you know that dogs were classified into 7 different major canine groups?