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Pedigree Dogs:

Dogs are divided into 6 general classifications in Britain: Hounds, Gundogs, Terriers, Utility, Working, and Toy. In the United States and some other countries the number is 7: Sporting, Hounds, Working, Terriers, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding. (The number is 8 if you count the Miscellaneous group.) The Gundog and Sporting classes are equivalent, as are the Utility and Non-Sporting groups. The British Working classification is broken into two groups in the US: Working and Herding.

Hounds are hunting dogs. Some hounds hunt by sight (sighthounds like Greyhounds); others use their noses on the ground to follow their target (Beagles and Bloodhounds, for example). The Finnish Spitz is unusual in that it hunts birds and indicates their presence in a tree by standing next to the tree and barking. Hounds tend to concentrate on the chase and not necessarily returning when called. They also have loud barks which they like to use.

Sporting, or Gundogs, help in finding and catching feathered and furry game. Pointers and setters are a part of this group; these dogs indicate where the game is. Retrievers bring back game. Spaniels do both. And there are a number of European breeds that are known as the Hunt, Point, and Retrieve (HPR) breeds. Most Sporting dogs tend to be trainable, gentle, and quiet dogs.

Terriers are the rodent-catchers of the canine world. They are brave and very intelligent dogs. Terriers vary in size, from large Airedales, down to medium-sized Lakeland Terriers, to smaller dogs like the Norwich Terrier. They tend to be sharp in appearance and in character.

The Herding classification (in the US) includes breeds such as the Border Collie and the Shetland Sheepdog (these would be part of the Working group in Britain). The Working group includes dogs such as Boxers, Rottweilers, Bullmastiffs, and German Shepherds. The temperment and trainability of these dogs vary tremendously.

The Toy group consists of the small dogs. Although all the dogs are small, there is considerable variation. This group includes the Chihuahua, the King Charles Spaniel, the Yorkshire Terrier, the Pekingese, the Pug, the Papillon, and the Japanese Chin.

The Utility, or Non-Sporting, group includes dogs that don't fit into the other groups, like the Dalmatian, the Bulldog, and the Poodles. They vary greatly in size, appearance, and temperment.

All together there are nearly 200 different breeds in the AKC -- over 400 worldwide!

Source: The New Guide to Dog Breeds, by Mike Stockman, Hermes House, London, 1998.