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How Many Dog Breeds Are There?

How Many Dog Breeds Are There?

dog breeds

How Many Dog Breeds Are There?

In a perfect world, we’d want to get our hands on every dog breed out there. But that’s the same as finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow – it’s just not going to happen.

But that doesn’t stop us from being curious about how many different breeds there are. In a nutshell, there’s between 190 to about 500; and you’re probably wondering why there’s such a large discrepancy.

Well, the answer is quite simple. The number of dog breeds in the world largely depends on who you ask and what criteria they’re using.

Canine Registries Use Different Criteria

There’s no one universal canine registry. Different governing bodies in canine registration have varying ways of recognizing breeds; the most common canine registries are the American Kennel Club (AKC), The Kennel Club (UK), the Continental Kennel Club (CKC) of Europe, and the Federation Cynologique International (FCI).

How the  American Kennel Club  Recognized Breeds

The AKC is one of the most popular kennel clubs in the world. It’s also the registry with the largest number of recognized purebreds – currently at 197.

The AKC doesn’t recognize a breed until it has at least 300 dogs registered in its studbook, and the dog must also meet certain physical characteristics. The AKC is largely known as a “purebred registry” because it requires that a dog’s parents be of the same breed for it to be registered.

Breeds that don’t make the cut are considered “foundation stock service” (FSS) breeds and are grouped together.

A Worldwide Registry

The FCI is the largest international dog registry, with exactly 354 breeds recognized. The FCI uses a multi-tiered system to group breeds, which can be confusing for those who aren’t familiar with it.

The top tier comprises 97 “breeds,” further divided into 10 “sections.” These sections are based on the dog’s country of origin, physical characteristics, and historical purpose.

Currently, the FCI has 98 member or partner countries from all over the world.

Different Breeds for Different Purposes

As you can see, there’s no one answer to the question of how many dog breeds are there. It largely depends on who you ask, and their definition of a “breed” is.

Interestingly, different parts of the world have different breeds that are bred for specific purposes. For example, in the UK, there’s a breed of dog specifically bred for ratting – which is the act of hunting rats.

In Canada, a few breeds were developed to herd cattle. And in Japan, some dogs are bred to be companion animals.

So, if you’ve grown accustomed to hearing there are only about 190 breeds, then it’s an inaccurate number, to say the least.

How to Establish a New Breed

Wouldn’t it be nice to establish a new breed of dog? It’s possible, but you at least should know that it’s no easy feat. If you’re in the US, you ought to follow the standards and requirements set by the AKC.

For one, the prospective breed must generate national interest to be even considered for recognition. There are quite a few hoops to jump through, and the process will take years.

Here are the other requirements:

New breeds must span at least three generations
There has to be a national kennel club that recognizes the breed and with at least a hundred members
The club must have an established set of qualifications and standards for a dog to be considered a member of the breed

Classifying Dog Breeds

All the aforementioned canine clubs have a way of classifying dog breeds. Generally, a particular breed falls under one of the following:

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1 – Sporting

A sporting dog is bred to help humans in activities such as hunting and retrieving. They’re trained to hunt birds, ducks, and other animals. The most popular breeds in this classification are retrievers, setters, and spaniels.

2 – Non-Sporting

Dogs in this group were bred for various purposes that don’t necessarily fit into the other categories. They include dogs bred for companionship and those used in circus performances. The chow-chow, poodle, and Dalmatian are all examples of non-sporting breeds.

3 – Working

The working dogs are a diverse group, as they were bred for different jobs such as guarding property, pulling sleds, and rescue missions. This category includes some of the most popular dog breeds, such as the German shepherd, Labrador retriever, and bulldog.

4 – Terrier

Terriers were originally bred to hunt and kill vermin, such as rats and foxes. They’re characterized by their feisty, independent personalities. This breed includes the Jack Russell terrier and the Yorkshire terrier.

5 – Toy

The toy breeds were bred to be companions for humans. They usually weigh less than 20 pounds and include breeds like the Pug, Shih Tzu, and Yorkshire terrier. These dogs are often recommended for people who live in apartments or condos because of their small size.

6 – Herding

Herding dogs were bred to help humans with tasks such as sheep ranching and cattle drives. They’re known for their high intelligence and trainability. The Australian shepherd and border collie are common herding breeds.

7 – Hound

Hounds were originally bred to track and hunt prey such as deer, rabbits, and foxes. The beagle, basset hound, and greyhound represent these hound breeds. They have an amazing sense of smell and a relentless pursuit instinct.

8 – Nordic

This group includes the Samoyed, Alaskan Malamute, Siberian husky, and Norwegian elkhound. They were bred in colder climates and used for sledding, hunting, and guarding.

9 – Crossbreeds

As the name suggests, crossbreeds are dogs that are a mix of two or more breeds. They can be quite unpredictable as they don’t have a set personality or physical characteristics. However, they make great pets and are as lovable and healthy as purebred dogs.

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