Dog Breeds (Show All Breeds)

From Wolf to Dog

Grey Wolf

The beloved domestic dog is a carniverous (meat-eating) mammal belonging to the family Canidae, which includes wild dogs and foxes, and more specifically the genus Canis, which includes coyotes, jackals and wolves. Despite the huge variety of dog breeds in existence today, dogs are designated as a single species, Canis familiaris - a descendent of the Grey Wolf (although some experts maintain they are the same species but a domestic variant). In either case, it is likely that the progenitors of the many different dog breeds evolved independantly from numerous sub-species of the Grey Wolf, and that they also interbred with wild anscestors at times, contributing to the diversity between the various breeds. The humble dog has evolved a greater diversity than any other species, something in which man's intervention has played a major role.

Man's Best Friend

Archaological evidence reveals human and canine remains in close proximity and suggest that man has been interested in dogs for over 100,000 years. The dog is thought to have split from the wolf around 20,000 years ago (during the Paleolithoc period), with domestication occuring independently in various parts of the world. The dog was most likely the first animal to be domesticated, a relationship that probably started with wolves scavenging on the fringes of human camps looking for easy meals - something that was mutually beneficial seeing as they kept vermin and other scavengers at bay. As men began to settle and farm the land, the value of the wolf may already have been realised.

Designed through Necessity

Although man had domesticated various wild crops and livestock by the Neolithic period some 6000 years ago, hunting remained an important method of acquiring food and also became important for protecting crops and livestock from wild animals. The development of the bow and arrow may have necessitated a new role for dogs, such as the flushing out, location and retrieval of game. Crops, livestock and homes will also have needed protecting from nomadic tribes, something else the dog may have assisted in. Evidence suugests that selective breeding of dogs for differing tasks may have begun 10,000 years ago. As the relationship grew, so did the bond between man and dog, and by Roman times dogs were being employed for many differing tasks, including hunting, herding, guarding, and companionship.

The Romans established the first international trade in dogs, bringing various types together, where new breeds would evolve and be developed with selective breeding, but the extreme diversity of dog breeds seen today is relatively recent. This came about in response to the development of civiisation and technology, which continually created new roles for dogs from guarding to even powering spits. A process of continual refinement was set in motion, where physical and emotional qualities of varioous types were combined, divided and sub-divided. By the 1800s most of the modern dogs were in existence, but these only began to be classed into breeds by the end of the 1900s, something prompted by the formation of various kennel clubs, which began to record bloodlines and defined breed standards.

So as you can see, man's best friend has been designed through necessity for thousands of years, resulting in the hundreds of dog breeds in existence around the world today. You can view many of the different dog breeds from around the world using the navigation at the top of this page.

Canine Organisations

The British Kennel Club (KC) is the oldest kennel club in the world. Founded in 1873, it was the world's first official registry of purebred dogs and remains the governing body for dogs in the UK, with its best known event being the Crufts Dog Show. It is not part of the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI), or World Canine Organisation, unlike most other kennel clubs from other countries. Other notable clubs include The American Kennel Club (AKC) and the European Kennel Club (EKC), but there are literally hundreds more.

Dog Breed Groups

There could be over 800 different dog breeds in existence today, although only around 300 are recognised officially as purebred. The national kennel clubs for different countries organize dog breeds into groups (often according to the roles they were initially bred to fulfill), and unfortunately the naming and organization of these groups can vary greatly. In addition, there are often some breeds, new or even traditional, that are awaiting approval by various clubs. Compounding this further, there are a vast number of other dog clubs, registries and businesses in which breeds may be organized into whatever breed groups those entities may devise. Confused about breeds groups? You should be. This is why this guide classes breeds as generically as possible rather than by any specific organisation's standards.

Dog Sizes

Dog Sizes
SmallUnder 20lbs
Small-medium20-40lbs
Medium40-60lbs
Medium-large60-80lbs
LargeOver 80lbs

There seems to be no official exact definition or categories in place regarding the sizes of dogs, so here we have simply grouped them by weight into five groups as shown in the table on the right. Of course bear in mind that some dogs may have more muscle mass than others and so may be heavier but not necessarily larger for their weight.


Characteristics

Despite the huge breed diversity, domestic dogs have retained many of the physical, instinctal and behavioural attributes of the Grey Wolf. They are still carniverious predators and scavengers, with physical characteristics and senses still geared towards hunting.

Feel free to browse through the hundreds of dog breeds we have listed in the Dog Breeds section.