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An Introduction to dog types

An Introduction to dog types

With over 200 registered dog breeds and a whole host of other crossbreeds and types, choosing your perfect canine companion might seem a bit daunting at first. Different types of dogs have different needs. If you have a Terrier, for example, he will love digging, whereas a Scenthound would prefer to follow a trail to a hidden stash! A Livestock Protection dog may be happy on his own for long periods of time, but a Toy Dog needs lots more attention from you to feel content.

So getting to know your dog's personality and behavioural needs is vital to keep them as happy as possible.

Why are there so many different types of dogs?

If you travel around the world and look at village dog populations, you will see far more similarities than differences. Left to its own devices, the domestic dog is pretty similar no matter what country they come from. They are medium-sized, smoothish-coated, of various shades of brown with tulip shaped ears and a tail with a white tip (for easy communication) that is often held over their back. They may be slightly smaller in hot climates and larger with more coat in cold climates but basically, they are all very similar. They live alongside the human population but do not have a relationship with them.

By contrast, when you look at the types of dogs we live with today, there couldn't be a wider variety in terms of size, shape, coat-type and personality. And, your dog’s nutritional needs differ and vary with different breeds. This is why it is important for you to choose food that caters to the specific needs of your dog’s breed to ensure overall growth & development.

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2. Key nutrients including taurine to support healthy heart functions

3. Balanced minerals, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids support healthy teeth and gums

4. Concentrated nutrients to support the faster metabolism of small breed dogs

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1. For long healthy life, feed to lean body condition using recommended daily feeding amount and Ideal Body Condition Guide

2. Vitamin A and omega-6 fatty acid, for healthy skin and coat

3. Balanced minerals, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids support healthy teeth and gums

4. Highly digestible quality ingredients for superior nutrient absorption

5. Advanced nutrition and dietary fibre to support digestive comfort and wellbeing

6. Scientifically proven antioxidants to boost immune defence

7. No added artificial colours, flavours and preservatives


1. For long healthy life, feed to lean body condition using recommended daily feeding amount and Ideal Body Condition Guide

2. Helps maintain healthy joints with glucosamine and omega-3 fatty acids

3. Balanced minerals, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids support healthy teeth and gums

4. Minerals and high protein to fat ratio strengthen skeleton and muscles to avoid extra stress on joints

5. Insoluble fibre to help regulate digestive transit and help stool quality

6. Scientifically proven antioxidants to boost immune defence

7. No added artificial colours, flavours and preservatives


This is why if we want to understand our dogs, we need to know a little bit about how the companion dog has changed in the 15,000 years they have been living and working alongside humans.

How did different dog types evolve?

Put simply, dogs began to recognise that humans could provide food for them, while humans realised that some types of dogs were really good at certain jobs. Humans living alongside dogs was beneficial to both and so our ancestors began to selectively breed these dogs with those jobs in mind. At the same time, dogs evolved to succeed in the ever-changing environment in which they were living.

Dogs could do the jobs our ancestors needed them to do by using the skills they already had from the natural hardwired hunting/foraging and scavenging behaviours that allowed them to catch their food - so by amplifying or eliminating key parts of these behaviours with successive breeding, our ancestors created dogs that could help them with key tasks.

Different types of dogs for different jobs

Early humans didn't care what these dogs looked like, just that they could do the job, whether it was guarding, herding, retrieving or hunting. But in order to develop a working dog, dogs who were experts at a certain job were bred to others who showed the same working ability, and so on until true canine specialists had been produced.

As an interesting by-product, it was discovered that breeding for working ability developed a different shape or type of dog who was physically best able to do that job.

Dogs who needed to run fast, for example, had longer legs and lighter frames. Dogs who needed to sniff scents, were lower to the ground and dogs bred to go down holes to kill vermin, were smaller.

Each job needed a type of dog that had different natural strengths and weaknesses - physical, mental and emotional - and with each successive generation, these traits were amplified as we started breeding better and better working dogs - and the dog breeds we recognise today began to develop.

While all dogs' basic needs are similar, the job each was developed or has evolved to do has given them different emotional, behavioural and physical needs.

Types of dogs: choosing your perfect canine companion

There are seven different groups of dog breed based on the jobs these dogs were created to do. The different types of dogs are:

Working dogs

Working dogs were bred to guard (property or livestock) or do other specialist jobs.

  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Bouvier Des Flandres
  • Boxer
  • Bullmastiff
  • Canadian Eskimo Dog
  • Doberman
  • Dogue de Bordeaux
  • Entlebucher Mountain Dog
  • German Pinscher
  • Giant Schnauzer
  • Great Dane
  • Great Swiss Mountain Dog
  • Greenland Dog
  • Hovawart
  • Leonberger
  • Mastiff
  • Neapolitan Mastiff
  • Newfoundland
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Pyrenean Mastiff
  • Rottweiler
  • Russian Black Terrier
  • Siberian Husky
  • St. Bernard
  • Tibetan Mastiff
Pastoral Dogs

Pastoral dogs were bred to work herding livestock such as sheep, cattle or even reindeer.

  • Anatolian Shepherd Dog
  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Bearded Collie
  • Beauceron
  • Belgian Shepherd Dog (Groenendael)
  • Belgian Shepherd Dog (Laekenois)
  • Belgian Shepherd Dog (Malinois)
  • Belgian Shepherd Dog (Tervueren)
  • Bergamasco
  • Border Collie
  • Briard
  • Catalan Sheepdog
  • Collie (Rough)
  • Collie (Smooth)
  • Estrela Mountain Dog
  • Finnish Lapphund
  • German Shepherd Dog
  • Hungarian Kuvasz
  • Hungarian Puli
  • Hungarian Pumi
  • Komondor
  • Lancashire Heeler
  • Maremma Sheepdog
  • Norwegian Buhund
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Picardy Sheepdog
  • Polish Lowland Sheepdog
  • Pyrenean Mountain Dog
  • Pyrenean Sheepdog (Long Haired)
  • Samoyed
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Swedish Lapphund
  • Swedish Vallhund
  • Turkish Kangal Dog
  • Welsh Corgi (Cardigan)
  • Welsh Corgi (Pembroke)
  • White Swiss Shepherd Dog

Gundogs were bred to work to the gun as either retrievers, setters, flushers or pointers.

  • Barbet
  • Bracco Italiano
  • Braque D’Auvergne
  • Brittany
  • English Setter
  • German Longhaired Pointer
  • German Shorthaired Pointer
  • German Wirehaired Pointer
  • Gordon Setter
  • Hungarian Vizsla
  • Hungarian Wire Haired Vizsla
  • Irish Red & White Setter
  • Irish Setter
  • Italian Spinone
  • Korthals Griffon
  • Lagotto Romagnolo
  • Large Munsterlander
  • Pointer
  • Portuguese Pointer
  • Retriever (Chesapeake Bay)
  • Retriever (Curly Coated)
  • Retriever (Flat Coated)
  • Retriever (Golden)
  • Retriever (Labrador)
  • Retriever (Nova Scotia Duck Tolling)
  • Slovakian Rough Haired Pointer
  • Small Munsterlander
  • Spaniel (American Cocker)
  • Spaniel (American Water)
  • Spaniel (Clumber)
  • Spaniel (Cocker)
  • Spaniel (English Springer)
  • Spaniel (Field)
  • Spaniel (Irish Water)
  • Spaniel (Sussex)
  • Spaniel (Welsh Springer)
  • Spanish Water Dog
  • Weimaraner
Hound dogs

Hound dogs will hunt game using either sight or scent, to be followed either on foot or horseback.

  • Afghan Hound
  • Azawakh
  • Basenji
  • Basset Bleu De Gascogne
  • Basset Fauve De Bretagne
  • Basset Griffon Vendeen (Grand)
  • Basset Griffon Vendeen (Petit)
  • Basset Hound
  • Bavarian Mountain Hound
  • Beagle
  • Black & Tan Coonhound
  • Bloodhound
  • Borzoi
  • Cirneco Dell'Etna
  • Dachshund (Long Haired)
  • Dachshund (Miniature Long Haired)
  • Dachshund (Miniature Smooth Haired)
  • Dachshund (Miniature Wire Haired)
  • Dachshund (Smooth Haired)
  • Dachshund (Wire Haired)
  • Deerhound
  • Finnish Spitz
  • Foxhound
  • Grand Bleu De Gascogne
  • Greyhound
  • Griffon Fauve De Bretagne
  • Hamiltonstovare
  • Harrier
  • Ibizan Hound
  • Irish Wolfhound
  • Norwegian Elkhound
  • Otterhound
  • Pharaoh Hound
  • Portuguese Podengo
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Saluki
  • Segugio Italiano
  • Sloughi
  • Whippet
Terrier dogs

Terrier dogs were bred to kill vermin often underground.

  • Airedale Terrier
  • Australian Terrier
  • Bedlington Terrier
  • Border Terrier
  • Bull Terrier
  • Bull Terrier (Miniature)
  • Cairn Terrier
  • Cesky Terrier
  • Dandie Dinmont Terrier
  • Fox Terrier (Smooth)
  • Fox Terrier (Wire)
  • Glen Of Imaal Terrier
  • Irish Terrier
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Kerry Blue Terrier
  • Lakeland Terrier
  • Manchester Terrier
  • Norfolk Terrier
  • Norwich Terrier
  • Parson Russell Terrier
  • Scottish Terrier
  • Sealyham Terrier
  • Skye Terrier
  • Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Welsh Terrier
  • West Highland White Terrier
Toy dogs

Toy dogs were bred to become companion breeds.

  • Affenpinscher
  • Australian Silky Terrier
  • Bichon Frise
  • Bolognese
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Chihuahua (Long Coat)
  • Chinese Crested
  • Coton De Tulear
  • English Toy Terrier (Black & Tan)
  • Griffon Bruxellois
  • Havanese
  • Italian Greyhound
  • Japanese Chin
  • King Charles Spaniel
  • Lowchen (Little Lion Dog)
  • Maltese
  • Miniature Pinscher
  • Papillon
  • Pekingese
  • Pomeranian
  • Pug
  • Russian Toy
  • Yorkshire Terrier
Utility dogs

Utility dogs are a wide category of breeds that don’t fit into any other group.

  • Akita
  • Boston Terrier
  • Bulldog
  • Canaan Dog
  • Chow Chow
  • Dalmatian
  • Eurasier
  • French Bulldog
  • German Spitz (Klein)
  • German Spitz (Mittel)
  • Japanese Shiba Inu
  • Japanese Spitz
  • Keeshond
  • Kooikerhondje
  • Korean Jindo
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Poodle (Miniature)
  • Poodle (Standard)
  • Poodle (Toy)
  • Schipperke
  • Schnauzer
  • Shar Pei
  • Shih Tzu
  • Tibetan Spaniel
  • Tibetan Terrier
  • Xoloitzcuintle (Mex Hairless) Int
  • Xoloitzcuintle (Mex Hairless) Min
  • Xoloitzcuintle (Mex Hairless) Std

Each group has very different skills and a very different canine personality, which means each dog type will be totally different to live with.

Within every breed and type there are always individuals who don't fit the mould, especially as we now generally breed for looks and not working ability. But by understanding what your dog was originally bred to do and how they did that job, you will have many of the clues you need to make sure they fit into your lifestyle, to manage your expectations, to prevent behaviour problems, and to have a successful relationship and life together.

While this is fairly straightforward with purebred dogs, crossbreeds can have a mix of personality types, needs and behaviours depending on what breeds go into their ancestry and so you may have to be more of a canine detective to discover what makes them tick - but then that's half the fun!

Never forget however that every dog is different - even within breeds and types - and so while breed traits are a useful starting point, nothing beats spending time with your dog and learning about their personalities, what they enjoy, what they need, and building the very best relationship you can with them.

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