Most of us grew up with dogs in our lives and we couldn’t imagine living without at least one dog in our home. That is why one of the bigger decisions that we will need to make in life is what type of dog we share our lives with. When you begin looking, you will see that there are many choices available. More than likely, you have a specific choice in mind and may include one of the many different dog breeds.
Don’t be too quick to make a decision in this regard. In fact, taking your time and making the right decision will provide you with a companion that is ideal for you and your family. The following information about dog breeds can help to guide you in your decision. It will also help you to see something about the history of dog breeds and where they may be going in the future.
Where did dog breeds come from?
Dogs are certainly not a newcomer to the scene. There is some evidence that they may have been around and being used as pets for humans for many thousands of years. What may come as a surprise to you, however, is that at one time, there were not all of the different dog breeds that we see today. In fact, there were relatively few.
Scientists have tested the DNA of a wide variety of different breeds of dogs and they came to a rather interesting conclusion. According to the DNA structure that was found in the mitochondria, dogs from around the world share a single lineage. In other words, it doesn’t matter what dog breed you choose, they come from a common ancestor. It is the specific breeding process that has taken place that makes them what they are today.
Something else that is interesting about the fact that dogs share a single lineage is what it tells us about the domestication process. If dogs were domesticated from wolves or other wild animals in different parts of the world, it would have resulted in different DNA structures. Since they share a common lineage, it means that domestication occurred only one time and from that point forward, the entire list of current dog breeds came into existence.
Of course, even though dogs may have been bred for specific purposes for thousands of years, the vast majority of the dog breeds that we see today are relative newcomers to the scene. Many years ago, dogs may have been bred for purposes, such as a calm temperament for living in the home or an aggressive tendency to guard the property. Those original tendencies that were bred into specific types of dogs are now taken even a step further, and current breeds are able to accomplish amazing things.
Although different dog breeds may have been around for years, the earliest breed that was bred for specific purposes was the Arabian Greyhound (Sloughi). This dog breed was developed in North Africa for the purpose of hunting game, including gazelle, wild pigs and fox. The breed may have changed over the years but it is still known for its tremendous speed, endurance and hunting skills. How old is this dog breed? According to old earthenware fragments found in Ethiopia, it may have been a breed of dog up to 5000 years ago.
In the past two centuries, we have seen growth in various dog breeds that is unprecedented in human history. According to some organizations, there may be well over 300 different dog breeds that are currently recognized and new breeds are being added as they are developed.
Most popular dog breeds
Although there may be hundreds of different dog breeds, some are quite popular and others are relatively rare. There may also be differences in the popularity of dog breeds from one area of the world to another. According to The American kennel club, which is recognized as the largest purebred dog registry in the world, there are 10 specific dogs that rank as the most popular in the United States. These dog breeds are also popular in many other parts of the world.
1. Labrador Retriever – Not many people would be surprised to find the the Labrador at the top of the list. They have held this ranking for over two decades.
2. German Shepherd – This familiar breed is often used for military or law enforcement purposes. They also make a very loyal part of the family.
3. Golden Retriever – Bred as a hunting dog in the 1800s, the Golden is an excellent family pet.
4. Bulldog – Most people recognize the bulldog at first glance. It is a relaxed dog that is great for life at home.
5. Beagle – If you want an active family dog that is also quite loving, a beagle might be just right for you.
6. French Bulldogs – The “Frenchie” is a welcome member of any family
7. Poodle – One of the smartest dogs, they work well with the family. They also come in many sizes.
8. Rottweiler – Lovable and mild, the Rottweiler makes a good family pet.
9. Yorkshire Terrier – A small dog that has a personality larger-than-life, this dog will keep you entertained.
10. Boxer – Originally bred for hunting purposes, they make a great family pet.
Dog Breed Categories
In many cases, purebred dogs are split into various categories. It helps to further identify the breed according to what they were bred to do, temperament, size or perhaps some other distinction. The AKC recognizes 8 different classifications of dog breeds. There may be variations from one organization to another, but the AKC is recognized by most people as being the standard.
Herding Group – This group is a newcomer to the scene, founded in 1983. It took some members of the working group; those that were able to control movements of animals.
Hound Group – Many of the dog breeds found in this group have a long history. Some use their sense of smell to follow a trail and others use their stamina to keep up with whatever animal they are pursuing.
Toy Group – Toy dogs are some of the smaller dog breeds but don’t let the size fool you. Many of them are full of personality and at times, can be assertive.
Non-sporting Group – This is a rather diverse group of animals that come in many different shapes and sizes. Some of the dogs included in this group are the Poodle and the Dalmatian.
Sporting Group – The dogs in the sporting group tend to work well in the field. Some of them do well in the woods or brush and others may be natural in the water. Some of the breeds in this group do both.
Terrier Group – Terriers tend to be energetic and a little feisty. Most of them were bred for the original purpose of killing vermin and they have a wiry coat. Terriers can be spirited dogs and are not always the best choice for families with children or other pets.
Working Group – This is a rather diverse group of dogs that were bred to work at specific jobs. They tend to be intelligent animals that are easily trained but they can be headstrong.
Miscellaneous – Although it may not be a specific group, there are certain breeds of dogs that just don’t fit well into the other groups. The AKC recognizes these breeds for competition purposes.
Finding a Dog Breeder
If you have done your homework on the various dog breeds are now ready to take things to the next level, it is time to look for a dog breeder. A number of different options are available, but it is not a choice that should be taken lightly.
Some dog breeders are responsible with what they do and they will even do a lot of research into those individuals who are interested in purchasing one of their puppies. Most responsible breeders will not simply hand over a puppy just because you have cash on hand. For them, it is just as important to make sure that the dogs have the right home as it is to maintain the bloodlines of the quality breed.
Sometimes, it can be tempting and look at a puppy store and all of the different dogs they have available. The problem with many puppy stores is the fact that they get the dogs from puppy mills, which treat the dogs inhumanely and are breeding for profit and nothing else.
Something else that you may want to consider is looking at one of your local animal shelters. One out of every four dogs that are in US animal shelters are purebred, so you may just find what you want in an adult dog that is looking for a home. Not all of the dogs that are purebred at animal shelters will have their papers but for most people, papers are not what they are looking for.
Most responsible breeders are quite interested in the comfort of their dogs and not only in breeding them. Ask to see the areas where the puppies live and you should see that it is a healthy, clean area with plenty of room for them to move about. Most responsible breeders are also only going to breed very specific types of dogs and they will likely give you the opportunity to spend time with the parents of the litter and not simply hand over the puppy.
Should You Buy or Adopt?
The majority of those who are looking to buy a purebred dog do so because they like the characteristics of the breed, either in their temperament or in the way that they look. Although you may have an opportunity to get the dog that you want by buying a purebred animal, it is not always going to be the case.
Generally speaking, you can learn a lot about a breed of dog by looking at the lineage but, like humans, dogs are individuals and will have their own, individual personalities. When you buy a puppy, you are buying a dog that has not yet developed its own personality and it may not follow the breed standard, just because they are a part of the breed.
The choice as to whether to buy a purebred puppy or to adopt a dog is one that must be personally made by you and your family. There are always going to be arguments in favor of either option.
Some people consider the many dogs that are in animal shelters and they would consider buying a puppy that was bred for a specific purpose. Other people, however, like the stability that they are able to find many purebred dogs, especially when they are purchased through a reliable and high quality breeder.
In the end, it may be worth your while to explore both options and to see which one works well for you. As we stated earlier, one out of four dogs in animal shelters are purebred dogs, so you certainly are not without the option of having a purebred, even if you adopt.
List of all Dog Breeds
Australian Cattle Dog
Bouvier des Flandres
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Entlebucher Moutain Dog
German Shepherd Dog
Miniature American Shepherd
Old English Sheepdog
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Polish Lowland Sheepdog
Spanish Water Dog
American English Coonhound
Black and Tan Coonhound
Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen
Portuguese Podengo Pequeno
Treeing Walker Coonhound
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
English Toy Spaniel
Toy Fox Terrier
American Eskimo Dog
Coton De Tulear
American Water Spaniel
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
English Cocker Spaniel
English Springer Spaniel
German Shorthaired Pointer
German Wirehaired Pointer
Irish Red and White Setter
Irish Water Spaniel
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Welsh Springer Spaniel
Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
American Hairless Terrier
American Staffordshire Terrier
Dandie Dinmont Terrier
Glen of Imaal Terrier
Kerry Blue Terrier
Miniature Bull Terrier
Parson Russell Terrier
Smooth Fox Terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
West Highland White Terrier
Wire Fox Terrier
Anatolian Shepherd Dog
Bernese Mountain Dog
Black Russian Terrier
Dogue de Bordeaux
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Portuguese Water Dog
Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen
Peruvian Inca Orchid