Learning about the different classes of small dogs can help focus the selection process for a new canine friend. The American Kennel Club (AKC), the principle breed registry within the US, divides dog breeds into seven categories, plus the miscellaneous class. The category] is for breeds that have not yet completed all their registration requirements.
The seven types of AKC recognized dog breeds are:
You’ll find most small dogs are in the toy group, but there are quite a number in the terrier category, and some in the non-sporting, sporting, hound, and herding categories. There are no official AKC recognized small dogs in the working class.
What Do These Groups Mean?
Most of the breeds in these groups share some defining common characteristics. Some are classified because of particular talents like a great herding or hunting ability, (in the herding and hound groups). Others are there because of their size (toy dogs), or ancestry (terriers). The sporting and working dogs are a bit like the medley racers in Olympic swimming – they are all-rounders, talented in doggy sports, or excelling in the multitude of skills needed for working dogs. The non-sporting group are more dissimilar than similar however. The exception being that they don’t fit well in any other group.
Sporting dogs are good at hunting, although they make excellent pets with the right owners. Sporting dogs can hunt all types of small game, including birds, and they can hunt either on land or in the water. This group covers twenty-seven breeds, including the English cocker spaniel dog breed, a type of small spaniel. Other breeds in this category are pointers, other spaniels, setters, and retrievers. Sporting dogs are high energy dogs, and do need exercise on a regular basis.
Hound dogs are also hunters. Hunting dogs grouped here have been helping people in the hunt historically. And they were bred to take advantage of particular skills each breed developed. Some hounds use speed, others sight or smell, to get their prey. There are twenty-three breeds in this group, which includes 3 small breeds – the whippet, basenji, and dachshund.
Dogs in the working group can be kept as pets, however the reason they are called working dogs is because they provide some function for people, whether it is herding livestock, as a guide dog, or part of a paid entertainment act.
The AKC uses the definition a little bit differently. It places dog breeds here when they have been bred to do a task which cannot be accurately categorized in one of the other existing categories. There are no small dog breeds in this category.
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