We see it pop up from time to time, folks getting all excited about shelters trying to combat breed stigma and incorrect breed labeling by using the term “American Shelter Dog”. While we understand the intent behind this tactic, we’ve found many issues that can arise from using it, which we’ve laid out in this blog post: The Great Equalizer: American Shelter Dog?
Clearly, something must be done to both make it easier for shelters and non-breed specific rescues to let potential adopters know what breed/breeds they may have while still avoiding the pitfalls of having someone adopt a dog that may not be a good fit for their family due to its breed traits.
An easier way to prepare a potential adopter for what characteristics a dog may have is to classify dogs by their breed/breeds Kennel Club Grouping.
Below is a list of the breed groupings and a description of each. We’d love to see shelter and rescue groups include these along with their breed labels to empower adopters to choose the best dog for their family and lifestyle.
Dogs in the Herding Group were bred to be trainable, highly focused on the task at hand, incredibly athletic, and physically capable of working for long periods of time. This makes for awesome obedience, agility, and other dog sport candidates but it does mean that a responsible owner needs to go out of his or her way to provide enough mental and physical stimulation to keep these dogs happy and engaged. When considering a dog from the Herding Group, be prepared to commit yourself to a bare minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity combined with additional mental stimulation per day in order to keep your dog a happy and healthy member of your family.
Common Herding Group Breeds: Border Collie, Australian Shepherd, German Shepherd, Corgi, Shetland Sheepdog
If you’re thinking “hound” think “hunting” as that was the original purpose of the dogs in this group. There are two categories within the Hound Group; scent hounds and sight hounds. Scent hounds were to track and tree different kinds of game – everything from rabbits to cougars and bears – whereas scent hounds were expected to chase game including larger animals like elk, moose, deer, and wild boar. While hounds tend not to need as much exercise as the dogs found in other groups might, Hound Group dogs can be very independent thinkers. Scent hounds have a tendency to follow their noses to the exclusion of everything else (including you) and sight hounds tend to chase small, quickly moving things whether you want them to or not! Despite that, hounds make loving and happy pets that tend to enjoy extended couch sessions and movie marathons – especially if that means cuddling with their people!
Common Hound Group Breeds: Beagle, Basset Hound, Greyhound, Whippet, Bloodhound
The Non-Sporting Group is home to a number of dog breeds that are no longer able to function as originally intended. The Dalmation, for example, no longer has horse drawn carriages to run beside. Other breeds in this group simply “don’t fit” into the six other groups. As such, members of the Non-Sporting Group exhibit various personality traits along with various coat lengths, body types, and origins.
Common Non-Sporting Group Breeds: Boston Terrier, Bichon Frise, Shiba Inu, Poodle, French Bulldog
Along with the Hound Group, members of the Sporting Group were developed as hunting dogs although the roles that they play are very different from the hound breeds. Sporting Group dogs are expected to help hunters find, flush, hold, point, and retrieve game; most notably ducks, pheasants, etc. There are three types of dogs in the Sporting Group – setters, pointers, and retrievers – and many of them are still used by hunters in the way that they were originally intended. They tend to make amazing companion animals due to their cheerful natures and remarkable trainability and excel as therapy, assistance, and search and rescue dogs in addition to their original tasks however these dogs are notoriously high energy and as such require a considerable amount of exercise and physical stimulation in order to keep them healthy and happy. Couch potatoes need not apply!
Common Sporting Group Breeds: Golden Retriever, German Shorthaired Pointer, Irish Setter, Cocker Spaniel (American and English), Labrador Retriever, Brittany Spaniel, Springer Spaniel
Dogs found in the Terrier Group are almost certain to possess boundless energy, incredible tenacity, and a desire to rid the world of its rodent population. These dogs tend to be quite intelligent and are exceptionally loyal to the persistent owner who proves themselves able to communicate well with them. Terrier Group dogs can be found in almost any dog sport and thoroughly enjoy being given something to do – typically speaking, if you enjoy doing it your terrier will too! Owners of terriers should remember that these dogs do have a tendency to be same-sex dog aggressive (households with male/female canine companions tend to do best) and do not always do well with small pets. These dogs have TONS of energy and will need to be provided with adequate positive mental and physical stimulation or they’ll find ways to keep themselves entertained that may not always be well received by their human counterparts.
Common Terrier Group Breeds: Miniature Schnauzer, American Pit Bull Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier, Bull Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Airedale Terrier
The dogs found in the Toy Group are “toys” only in size! Typically their personalities far outweigh their physical size and many Toy Group dogs rule over their much larger canine companions with an iron paw. Varying in coat type and original purpose, Toy Group breeds are ideal for people who have limited space but who still want a spunky and fun four-legged friend. Many Toy Group dogs are descended from larger spaniel or terrier counterparts and, as such, require the same training and consistent handling that larger breeds benefit from in order to keep them from becoming barkers or nippy.
Common Toy Group Breeds: Chihuahua, Papillon, Pomeranian, Pug, Shih Tzu, Yorkshire Terrier
The breeds found within this group tend to vary in form and function but they can all be said to be intelligent, athletic, courageous, and loyal. Working dogs were created to work and they still require jobs in order to be kept sound and happy in their day to day lives. This group includes dogs who were bred as guardians, dogs who were bred to transport large loads, and dogs who were bred to hunt game themselves. Working Group breed owners can be sure that they will need to be consistent and persistent owners who find appropriate outlets for their dogs’ instincts and desire to perform a job.
Common Working Group Breeds: Doberman Pincher, Rottweiler, Siberian Husky, Bernese Mountain Dog, Saint Bernard, Mastiffs, Great Dane, Great Pyrenees, Boxer
~ Rachele & Christina C.