With all the different breeds for dogs that exist, it makes sense that certain breeds would be divided into groups. However, it’s important to note that different organizations group dog breeds together differently.
For instance, The American Kennel Club (AKC) and The Kennel Club (KC) both group dogs similarly based on the breed’s function or original purpose, not so much on breed characteristics or physical traits.
The Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) on the other hand, tends to groups dogs together based on a blend of attributes and original function. For instance they have sighthounds and scent hounds in separate groups, as well as, spitz and primitive type dogs in a combined separate group.
In part one of this guide we will discuss what a Kennel Club is in general and the dog breed groups of the American Kennel Club (AKC) , the Kennel Club (KC).
Part two will cover the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI).
A quick side-note: While discussing this article with my wife, she asked “Why would anyone care about the FCI?” That’s a fair question. It is important to know why and we will cover that in part two.
In this article will go over the main similarities of the AKC and the KC, as well as, the differences. We will not be reviewing the Canadian Kennel Club since their grouping is virtually identical to the AKC.
What is a Kennel Club?
So the question here is what is a kennel club exactly? Well, a kennel club is a council of people that set standards and regulate breeding, showing, and promotion of more than one breed of dog.
This is important to know because kennel clubs set the standards for the classifying or grouping of dogs. Each kennel club groups dogs differently. Here in the United States, the American Kennel Club reigns supreme, but that’s not the case globally.
Therefore, we will look at three of the top four internationally known kennel clubs to compare their groupings: the AKC, KC, and FCI.
American Kennel Club
Naturally, the AKC groups are probably the most familiar grouping to those of us in the United States. The AKC is the main standard for dogs in America and drives the formatting of many dog shows here in the States.
Brief History of the AKC
The AKC was founded in 1884 by 10 American clubs and three Canadian clubs. The AKC was formed out of the need for a regulating body for the breeding and showing of dogs. In 1909 the group headquarters were moved to New York City, where it still is today.
American Kennel Club Dog Groups
The AKC separates dogs into nine different groups:
- Sporting Group
- Hound Group
- Working Group
- Terrier Group
- Toy Group
- Non-Sporting Group
- Herding Group
- Foundation Stock Service Group
- Miscellaneous Group
Links to each dog group’s page will be included for more information on individual breeds within each group.
The Sporting Group is home to most of the dogs used in hunting with humans. These dogs are well-rounded canine companions with a strong work ethic. These dogs are vigilant, active, and known to enjoy and excel in environments of water and forests.
There are four basic types of Sporting Dogs:
- Spaniels – small gun dogs specifically bred to flush game out of denser brush. Spaniels are specialized into water and land breeds.
- Pointers – type of gun dog used to locate game. The name pointer comes from the dog’s instinct to freeze and point (aiming it’s muzzle) towards the hidden game.
- Retrievers – a type of gun dog that retrieves downed game for the hunter. Retrievers are bred for willingness to please and specifically to have a soft mouth, meaning that these dogs don’t bite hard or chew on game. In fact, many retrievers can carry eggs in their mouths without damaging them.
- Setters – a type of gun dog used often for hunting quail, pheasant, and grouse. These dogs crouch upon finding game until the game can be flushed.
Many of the dogs in the sporting group are versatile in the functions across all four subtypes. For instance, many dogs in the sporting group can be trained to flush, point, and retrieve.
List of AKC Sporting Group Breeds
You can find more breed information on the AKC’s Sporting Group page HERE.
Like the Sporting Group, the Hound Group breeds have their origin in hunting. However, unlike the sporting dogs, hounds are used to hunt animals in packs. Some hounds used strong scenting abilities to follow the faintest of trials. Other hounds are ridiculously fast with endless stamina to relentlessly run down game.
There are two types of hounds:
- Scent Hounds – these hounds primarily track prey by using their scent to pick up trails. These hounds are built for endurance and steadily track their prey. Many scent hounds drive prey back to the hunters or tree an animal until the hunter arrives.
- Sight Hounds – these hounds rely on their sight to track prey rather than scent. Sight hounds are built for short, high-speed chases. These hounds can catch and kill prey on their own.
List of AKC Hound Group Breeds
You can find more breed information on the AKC’s Hound Group page HERE.
The working group is exactly what it sounds like. These dogs were bred to help humans with all kinds of tasks, such as, guarding, sled and freight pulling, as well as water rescues and any other tasks requiring big, strong canines. The working group are highly intelligent and loyal companions. However, these large dogs are naturally protective and independent, which can be a challenge for novice or new dog owners.
List of AKC Working Group Dogs
You can find more breed information on the AKC’s Working Dog Group page HERE.
Terriers are the tenacious and feisty scrappers of the dog world. These dogs were originally bred for hunting and killing vermin such as rats, mice, weasels, and more. Often these dogs were used to guard houses, barns, and even ships against such pests. The dogs can be stubborn and extremely energetic.
List of AKC Terrier Group Breeds
You can find more breed information on the AKC’s Terrier Dog Group page HERE.
The toy group are the small companion dogs that were, quite honestly, bred for human companionship. These dogs are small in stature, but big when it comes to charisma! These guys are affectionate, energetic, and adaptable to almost any living situation, especially apartment and city living.
List of AKC Toy Group Breeds
You can find more breed information on the AKC’s Toy Group page HERE.
The Non-Sporting Group seems to be the collection where the breeds that don’t seem to fit anywhere else are placed. There is a wide array of attitudes, personalities, abilities, and coats in this group. Many of these dogs are good watch dogs and companions.
List of AKC Non-Sporting Group Breeds
|American Eskimo Dog||Keeshond|
|Bichon Frise||Lhasa Apso|
|Coton De Tulear||Shiba Inu|
|Finish Spitz||Tibetan Terrier|
You can find more breed information on the AKC’s Non-Sporting Group page HERE.
Originally, dogs in the herding group belonged to the working group. It wasn’t until 1983 that the herding group was created as a stand alone group. The breeds of the herding group excel at their namesake…herding. These dogs are instinctually gifted to control the movement of other animals. Some herd dogs excel at keeping animals in groups, others at driving them forward, and others are used to protect livestock. These dogs are also incredibly eager to please and are highly trainable.
List of AKC Herding Group Breeds
You can find more breed information on the AKC’s Herding Group page HERE.
Foundation Stock Service Group
The Foundation Stock Service Group are breeds that are not eligible for registration with the AKC, but can compete in AKC Companion Events. These purebred breeds in the Foundation Stock Service are given a reputable and reputable way to maintain their records.
List of AKC Foundation Stock Service Group Breeds
You can find more breed information on the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service page HERE.
According to the AKC, “the breeds currently eligible to participate in the Miscellaneous Class are still enrolled in the AKC Foundation Stock Service. FSS enrollment is maintained until the AKC Board of Directors accepts the breed for regular status.”
Essentially, the Miscellaneous Class is a next step towards full AKC acceptance. Routinely, breeds spend 1-3 years in Miscellaneous Class before full AKC acceptance.
List of AKC Miscellaneous Class Group Breeds
|Biewer Terrier||Peruvian Inca Orchid|
|Bracco Italiano||Portuguese Podengo|
|Dutch Shepherd||Russian Toy|
|Lancashire Heeler||Teddy Roosevelt Terrier|
You can find more breed information on the AKC’s Miscellaneous Class page HERE.
There you go! Now you know how the AKC groups all dogs recognized by the organization. Maybe that’s all the information you were looking for. That’s fine. There is a reason the AKC was first and why such detail was put into that section.
However, if you are interested in learning more information about grouping from other international kennel clubs, please continue reading. The FCI is particularly interesting as it is so much different from the AKC and KC organizations.
The Kennel Club
Another internationally recognized kennel club is the Kennel Club (KC) out of England. KC is the official kennel club of the United Kingdom, just as the AKC is to the United States. The KC is the oldest recognized kennel club in the world.
Brief History of the Kennel Club
The KC was formed in 1873 by Sewallis E. Shirley. Shirley was frustrated by the lack of consistent sets of rules for showing dogs. Shirley, with the help of 12 others interested in pedigree dogs formed the Kennel Club in London, England. The Kennel Club is still headquartered in London today.
The Kennel Club Dog Groups
The dog groups of the KC are very similar to the AKC. Therefore, we will stick to highlighting the differences of groupings since they are very much in line with one and other.
The Gundog group is equal to the Sporting Group of the AKC with the exception that the four types of gun dogs are structured slightly differently:
The KC Gundog Types:
- Pointers and Setters
As mentioned before, many of the breeds in the Gun Dog Group are capable of doing the same work in the different types/sub-groups. Hence why the types seem to overlap.
List of KC Gundog Breeds
The Hound Group in the KC is defined the same as with the AKC. There are also the two types of hounds in this group:
- Scent hounds
- Sight hounds
List of KC Hound Breeds
The Pastoral group is the equivalent of the Herding Group in the AKC. These are all the dogs that are “associated with working cattle, sheep, reindeer, and other cloven footed animals”.
List of KC Pastoral Breeds
Again, just as with the AKC, the KC’s Terrier group are those dogs bred for hunting vermin.
List of KC Terrier Breeds
The KC Toy group and the AKC Toy group are also one in the same. This is the small companion dogs bred for any lifestyle.
List of KC Toy Breeds
The Utility group is the KC’s equivalent to the AKC’s Non-Sporting Group. These are the dog breeds that don’t really fit into any of the other categories, but were still bred specifically for certain purposes.
List of KC Utility Breeds
This final group, the Working group, is again aligned with the AKC group by the same name. These are the dogs selectively bred for guard duty, search and rescue, as well as, sled and freight pulling.
List of KC Working Breeds
You can find more breed information on the KC Working page HERE.
Conclusion on the AKC and KC Dog Breed Groups
There are definitely similarities in how the AKC and KC group their dog breeds. There may be different words used such as “Sporting Dog” compared to “Gun Dog”, but the vast majority of grouping between the two clubs is aligned.
As previously mentioned, the dog breed grouping of the AKC and KC is certainly what readers here in the United States would be used to. However, most of the world actually follows the FCI guidelines.
If you are interested in learning more about how the FCI groups dog breeds then continue on to part two.