The Complete Guide To Dog Breeds

Want to learn more about the different dog breeds? There are currently over 200 different Kennel Club recognised dog breeds, which means there is a lot to learn. Each dog breed belongs to a specific group, there are seven groups in total. The Kennel Club dog groups are: gundog, hound, pastoral, terrier, toy, utility and working.

If you are going to try and learn as many dog breeds as you can it helps to know a bit about the different groups. Each group has a job or a purpose and it’s easier to memorise dogs by their specified group.

Not everyone needs to learn all of the dog breeds. However, knowing a little bit about the different dog breeds out there can help you to make better decisions when choosing a dog. You will be more informed about the unique characteristics of specific dog breeds and will be able to figure out what breed might be best suited to your family.

Over time we have created a very long list of dog breeds through selective breeding. Breeders choose dogs to breed that have certain characteristics that they want to be present. Dogs come in a huge variety of different shapes, sizes and colours. They are the most varied species in the world thanks to human manipulation. It’s difficult to comprehend for example that a Chihuahua is the same species as a Great Dane.

Many dog breeds were originally created to do a particular job. Although some dogs still do the jobs they were bred to do centuries ago, lots of dogs are now simply family pets. However, they still hold on to many of the characteristics that have been hard coded into their DNA.


This group is made up of dogs that were initially bred to hunt live game. Some examples of gundogs are the Weimaraner, Pointer, Retriever and Italian Spinone. Click here to see the full list of breeds included in the gundog group.


This group was originally bred to hunt either by scent or by sight. For example, Greyhounds are sighthounds and Bassets are scent dogs. Beagles, Foxhounds, Whippets and Deerhounds are all in the hound group. Click here to see the full list of breeds included in the hound group.


The pastoral group includes dogs that were originally bred for herding. They used to herd animals such as sheep and cattle. The Old English Sheepdog, Border Collie, Komondor and Corgi are all included in this group. Click here to see the full list of breeds listed in the pastoral group.


Terriers originally had the job of hunting vermin such as mice, rats, foxes and even badgers due to their size and hardy temperament. Examples of terriers include the Airedale Terrier, Bedlington Terrier, Border Terrier and Fox Terrier. Click here to see a full list of the breeds listed in the terrier group.


Toy breeds don’t really have a working job, they were bred purely to be lapdogs and companions. Toy breeds are the smallest of all dog breeds. Examples include Chihuahuas, Italian Greyhounds, Pomeranians and Pugs. Click here to see a full list of the dog breeds included in the toy group.


The Utility group basically includes dog breeds that don’t really fit into any other groups. This is a miscellaneous group of non-sporting dogs. Examples include French Bulldogs, Dalmatians, Chow Chows and Akitas. Click here to see a full list of breeds included in the utility group.


Working dogs were originally bred to assist humans for all sorts of purposes. They have important jobs and enjoy ‘working’ and being given a job. Working dogs do jobs such as search and rescue and security and are often very courageous. Breeds in this group include the Dobermann, Boxer, Leonberger and Newfoundland. Click here to see a full list of the working breeds.

Most popular breeds in the UK

Some breeds have naturally become more popular than others. The popularity of a breed depends on their coverage on dog shows, celebrity influence, what job they are bred for and a variety of other factors. Some dog breeds are more popular in other countries but here are the most popular breeds in the UK at the moment:

  1. Retriever (Labrador)
  2. Spaniel (Cocker)
  3. Spaniel (English Springer)
  4. Pug
  5. German Shepherd Dog
  6. Golden Retriever
  7. French Bulldog
  8. Border Terrier
  9. Bulldog
  10. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

At risk dog breeds

Unfortunately some dog breeds fall out of favour. Once a breeds numbers fall below certain numbers they are included on the Kennel Club’s list of vulnerable native dog breeds. Dog breeds that receive 300 or fewer registrations and put onto this list. Breeds currently on this list include the Collie (smooth), Bloodhound, Fox Terrier (smooth), Gordon Setter and Miniature Bull Terrier. Click here for a full list.

Coat types

Dog breeds can also be categorised by their coat type. Some people prefer dogs with big fluffy coats and others prefer a dog with a shorter coat. Some dogs were bred to be able to survive in extreme weather and so they have a specific coat to help to protect them. The different types of coats you can get are: smooth (e.g. Pointer), wire (e.g. Wire Fox Terrier), wool (e.g. Bichon Frise), double (e.g. German Shepherd), silky (e.g. Cocker Spaniel) and combination (Labradoodle).

Choosing the right breed

It’s important to select the right dog breed for your lifestyle and circumstances. Often people buy certain dog breeds because of how they look and because they are popular, without really thinking about their temperament. The wrong dog breed with the wrong owner can be disastrous. You can meet all the different dog breeds and talk to owners at Discover Dogs. Make sure you speak to a breeder and research a breed’s characteristics before you make your decision.