A dog is an incredible addition to any household, whether you are own your own, a couple, or a large family. They are faithful companions, our best friends, and they even improve our physical and mental health.
However, deciding to get a dog is a big decision. You need to make sure you are ready for this commitment, including keeping them well fed, well exercised, and looking after their health. Additionally, you need to decide what type of dog is right for you.
There are so many different types of dogs, from toy breeds like Chihuahuas to working dogs like Great Danes. To help you decide which is the best for you, here is an overview of the different groups of dogs and common breeds.
Differences Between Dog Breeds
There are around 200 different dog breeds, with a hugely diverse range in terms of size, characteristics and personality. It is important to consider the various traits of the breed before deciding to get a dog, as not every breed is suitable for each person or family.
These breeds are officially gathered into groups, which we cover below.
The sporting group are dog breeds that were bred for “sports” in the sense of hunting. Traditionally, these dogs accompanied hunters, retrieving game birds. These breeds include spaniels, pointers, retrievers, and setters, specifically dogs like golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers, as well as lesser known ones such as the Spinone Italiano and the Nederlandse Kookerhondie.
Dogs in the sporting group are generally very active and alert, love to exercise and are great swimmers. They are also very loyal, settled and affectionate. They make great pets for people who can give them plenty of exercise and time outdoors.
Despite their small size, terriers were actually bred for quite a vicious purpose: to kill rodents and other pests. We typically think of smaller terrier breeds such as the Jack Russell and the American Staffordshire Terrier, but there are also larger breeds in this group such as the Airedale.
On the downside, small dogs like terriers can be prone to obesity, which can become a major health issue. However, this can be managed with specialised dog food such as Visionary Pet. Given their instincts, it is not a good idea to get a terrier if you also have small pets like hamsters or guinea pigs.
Although “hound” is sometimes used as a synonym for dog, this is actually a technical term for a specific group of dogs. These are some of the oldest domesticated breeds, bred by people to track and capture prey. This means that dogs in this group have an incredible sense of smell.
Generally, dogs in this group are very loving and affectionate, and extremely loyal to their owners, though many breeds do require a large amount of exercise. Breeds in this group include the Beagle, Greyhound, Blood Hound and Dachshund.
The toy group of dogs are a group of very small breeds that were bred specially to be companions for people. For this reason, these breeds are generally affectionate, sociable with big personalities, and they love being around people.
Their small size also makes them perfect for people who don’t have a lot of space, such as those who live in a small apartment. Breeds include Chihuahuas, Maltese, Havanese and Japanese Chin.
Like the sporting group, dogs in the working group were bred to do a specific task or purpose, such as herding sheep, guarding or rescuing people, or pulling sleds. Depending on the task they were bred to do, these dogs can be very strong and intelligent and make extremely loyal pets.
Dogs in this group include the Bernese Mountain Dog, the Boxer, Great Dane and Doberman. These and many other breeds in the working group are very large dogs, so are only suitable for those with a lot of space that can commit to giving their dog sufficient exercise.
Breeds in the herding group were bred in a similar way to working group dogs, except they are specifically bred for herding. Historically, these dogs were critical to farmers and herders to gather, guide and protect livestock from thieves and predators.
Herding dogs can range in size from small Corgis to large breeds like the German Shepherd, as well as Border Collies. Because they were bred to work with human shepherds and look after the flock, these dogs are great with kids and families. As you’d expect, they do need a lot of exercise and the larger breeds require space.