Chapter 4
How To Know What Type Dog Is Best For You

The Seven AKC Dog Groups

The American Kennel Club divides the dog breeds it fully recognizes into seven primary groups. Each group contains dogs that have common traits and were typically bred to assist man with a specific task. What follows is a list and description of the seven primary groups of dogs recognized by the AKC together with the two additional 'special' groups reserved for breeds that are seeking full AKC recognition. Many people get a sense of which group they will likely find a dog that is a good match for them based on the following descriptions. Almost everyone can eliminate one or more groups from consideration based on the description of the traits common to the various groups. Sporting Group. Sometimes known as 'gundogs', this group contains Pointers, Retrievers, Setters and Spaniels. Pointers, Retrievers, and Setters are large dogs. The Spaniels differ from each other more than the other subgroups. They are small to medium size dogs with hair that ranges from medium to long in length. A spaniel's coat can range from slightly wavy to tightly curled. As their 'gundog' label implies, these breeds were developed to help hunters in the field. As a result, they have a strong desire to please and a real need for human companionship. They generally enjoy the company of other dogs, too. They are typically spirited dogs that require frequent, enthusiastic exercise. They are best for households with active lifestyles, happily jogging with you for miles or bringing back a ball until you can no longer raise your arm. With their activity level, they require a safe fence or another method of confinement. Sporting dogs usually aren't satisfied to sleep all day with a brief walk or two. Without an outlet for their energy, they will likely become unruly or destructive. But when given the needed exercise, they make easy-to-live-with companions. The two most popular breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club, the Labrador Retriever and the Golden Retriever, are both members of the Sporting Group.