Akc Dog Breed Groups. What Are The Recognized Breed Groups?

AKC Dog Breed Groups

Ever wonder where all these dog breed groups come from?

People like to classify things to put order into their lives, and this skill is learned from a very young age.  Dog Breeds are no exception. Kennel Clubs around the world group dogs by their common characteristics. 

Traditionally, these groups were based on the dog’s purpose such as hunting or herding.

Six different dog breeds sitting side by side, against a white background.
Dog Breed Groups

Some clubs have categories for where the dog’s originated such as the Northern Spitz type breeds whose heritage involved surviving the harsh cold climates of the far north.  Fédération Cynologique Internationale is probably the only organization that divides its breed groupings by dog type and breed history.  

Other clubs, such as the American Kennel Club group these Spitz type dogs into other categories such as Working, Non-sporting or even Toys. 

Each kennel club around the world has different labels for their groups of dogs, but in some respects, they are all similar. A gun dog in the UK will be a sporting dog in the US.  Pastoral and Herding Breeds are virtually the same. 

Some groups are more confusing than others.  Take, for example, the AKC’s Non-sporting group and the UK’s Utility Grouping.

The Kennel Club in the UK defines “Utility” as meaning fitness for a purposenot covered by other Groups.

In other countries, kennel clubs use the term “Utility” to mean something entirely different. 

The New Zealand Kennel Club and the Australian National Kennel Council each have a Utility Group, but dogs in their Utility Group are large dogs that guard livestock, Spitz-type dogs and even those breeds used in rescue work. 

Many of the dogs that are placed in either of these groups do not fit comfortably in other groups so you could say that they are a catch-all for dogs that can’t be classified in the traditional way.

Knowing where your dog is placed in the larger dog kingdom may help you understand some his peculiarities.  Don’t use this as a foolproof method of choosing a dog, just another piece of the puzzle. 

Dog Breed Groups

To simplify this page, we have used the breed categories of the American Kennel Club.


  • Fearless
  • Make good family pets
  • Roles once played are no longer needed
  • Most are companions
  • Adaptable to City and Small Places
  • Most have wiry coats that may require stripping
  • May Dig
  • May Chew
  • May Bark
  • Need firm, consistent training
  • Unreliable around pocket pets

More:  Terriers Dog Group

Working (Also classified as Guardians, Utility)

  • Known for their strength and stamina
  • Loyal, protective
  • Independent thinkers
  • Dominant
  • Usually good in hot or cold temperatures
  • Relatively inactive indoors
  • Need firm, consistent training
  • Slow to mature
  • Maybe suspicious of strangers
  • Need careful dietary management while growing

More:  Working Dog Breed Group

Sporting (Also Known as Gun Dogs)

  • Easy to train
  • Do well with Children
  • Athletic
  • Energetic
  • Need substantial amount of exercise
  • Need plenty of social interactions
  • Some may be heavy shedders
  • Some require extensive grooming

More:  Sporting Dog Breed Group


Two types:  Scenthounds and Sighthounds

  • Developed to hunt
  • Sturdy, Hardy
  • Affectionate
  • Single-minded (may be considered stubborn)
  • Not easily distracted
  • Even tempered
  • Gentle Playful
  • Easily Distracted
  • May dig
  • May jump over fences
  • Barkers
  • Sight hounds are the sprinters of the dog world
  • Unreliable around pocket pets

More:  Hounds Dog Breed Group

Herding (Also Called Pastoral)

  • Newest AKC group
  • All can control the movements of other animals
  • Highly intelligent
  • Active
  • Energetic
  • Best Owners:  Active, Outdoor, Sports minded
  • Many shed
  • Some nip at heels of people
  • Generally easy to train
  • Make excellent companions

More:  Herding Dog Breed Group

Toys (also called Companions in some kennel clubs such as the UKC)

  • Small dogs
  • Breed for human companionship
  • Playful
  • Most are more active indoors
  • Bond quickly to people
  • Exercise needs are minimal
  • Some require extensive grooming
  • Some may be barkers
  • Some are hard to housebreak
  • Have longer life spans than larger dogs
  • Do well in small spaces, city, and apartments
  • May suffer from separation anxiety if left for too long
  • Prone to Small Dog Syndrome if not properly trained and socialized

More:  Toys Dog Breed Group

Non-Sporting (Also Called Utility in UK)

  • Catch all group for dogs that don’t fit into other groups
  • Other clubs may classify this group as companions, northern breeds or utility
  • Little in common with each other than they do not fit into any other group

More:  Non-sporting dog breed group

We hope this guide to the American Kennel Club’s Dog Breed Groups has been helpful.

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