Variety of Dog Breeds

Nowadays there are 500 different dog breeds, including those that are not acknowledged internationally yet. The International Cynologic Federation created in 1911, delegates the different countries to set the standards of several breeds born in its territory. The FCI made an official classification of breeds according to the level of relationship and according to the use of the dog. This basic classification is naturally modified in the different countries in relation to the local needs, which depends mainly on the organization of the canine exhibitions. Thus for example the most common dogs have many subdivisions in France and in Italy, in Sweden, the Spitz are considered as an independent group, etc.

The most recent canine classification, a thorough and complete list of all the different varieties was edited by the FCI in 1987. The canine breeds are classified in 10 groups which the majority is divided in subgroups or sections. These last ones include less important subdivisions where the breeds are classified according to the country of origin, size, hair or other more accurate features.

Each group is designed by a number and its name expresses the main characteristics of the subgroups.

In this book, we limit to the basic description. In the pictures and in the heading of each breed description, you will find a group number and the subgroups to which that specific breed belongs.

The characteristics of these ten groups are described below.

  • 1. Sheepdog (except the Swiss shepherds)

All the breeds belonging to this group come from the dogs that help taking care of sheep and cattle during thousands of years. They are taught to keep the flock together and to prevent them from trespassing to the cultivated fields. These dogs must be independent and have their own initiative. Therefore the numerous breeds of sheepdogs are equally valid as guard and protection dogs.

2. Dogs like the pinscher and schnauzer, molossus and Swiss shepherds

The breeds classified in this group have many diverse origins. Some were trained to fight and protect, such as the bulldog or the bullmastiff, others were used to take care of flocks or to rescue missing people such as the Saint Bernard. This group also includes pet dogs (for example the small pinscher).

3. Terriers

Its name comes from the Latin word terra (earth) and this means that they originally hunted or made foxes and weasel leave their earth. They are animals of medium size, they are brave and independent. Due to their outstanding qualities they were crossbred with other breeds, and so the diverse varieties of terriers adapted to several tasks were born. Many of them belong to the group of pet dogs.

4. Teckels

The origin of this type of breeds needs to be found in common dogs. They constitute an autonomous breed of short-legged dogs that were used in Europe to search for weasel and fox earths. Considering their role, they can be compared to the terriers of the British Islands.

5. Dogs like the Spitz and the primitive type

This very heterogeneous group includes Nordic dogs, the German Spitz, the Italian Spitz, the Asian Spitz (and related breeds), and breeds of primitive type, in other words they are African or Asian semi-wild dogs. The Nordic dogs or Spitz are traditionally used to guard, hunt, carry loads or even pull sleighs, the primitive dogs are used only for hunting.

6. Tracker dogs

In general, you can say that this group includes the dogs in charge of chasing the prey, picking it up and giving the hunter the chance to shoot it down. According to the different types of breeds, the work method for tracker dogs is different. There are many breeds that follow the trail slowly, others chase the prey in a pack, with quite an excitement of barking and they catch it or direct it to the hunter's fusil. The tracker dogs also follow the wounded prey, especially deer, roe deer and wild boars. They are able to follow the trail of an animal during twenty-four hours or even more.

7. Pointers

All the continental pointers have developed from the common dog. In the 6th century BC, the Greek historian Xenophon mentioned that the dogs instead of chasing the prey they would stand still with the head up high pointing to what they were scenting. In its origin, this behavior was not observed, but later this type of dogs was used for hunting birds with a net or even falconry.

The continental pointers are found in this group, the pointers of the British Islands, as well as the German Spaniels and the French Spaniels that constitute a transition between the common dogs and the pointers.

The continental pointers have been widely used.

The pointers of the British Islands, pointers and setters, which were transformed by the British hunters in true experts, must scent the piece quickly from far distance and point the direction in which they are. They are not the ones that bring the shoot down piece; this is a task for the retriever dog, classified in the group below.

8. Picker-ups, retrievers, and water dogs

This group refers to the very specialized hunting dogs. The retriever accompanies the hunter and under his or her orders they follow the shoot down or wounded piece and takes it to the hunter. This task completes the work done by pointers of the British Islands.

The spaniels are trained to look for a piece in a rugged land or covered by dense vegetation. In marshy land, between the water and the aquatic vegetation, water dogs are the ones that must work as the perfect bloodhounds.

Some breeds of this group are only prepared for hunting, but most of them have always been excellent pet dogs.

9. Pet dogs

In this group you will find diverse breeds, some which belong to any of the aforementioned groups, and they are characterized because they adapt perfectly to the life in a house.

10. Greyhounds and dogs of similar breed

The dogs in this group have a special way of hunting: they do not get orientated by the smell but by the sight, and they only chase the pieces they see. In numerous countries such as Iran and Afghanistan, the hunters take them in horse saddles or camels and they do not let them down until they have seen the prey. Nowadays, certain breeds of greyhounds are used for purely sportive purposes, as race dogs. Others adapt perfectly to the life of a family. The greyhounds belong to a very ancient group of dogs. Five thousand years ago, the Egyptians represented them in their palaces and tombs.

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