Facts About Dog Breeds (Barking, Training and Grooming)

We created our guide to dog breeds to help dog lovers understand common characteristics found in dog breeds, especially when it comes to understanding why dogs bark, which ones are more trainable than others, and what the various breeds need for grooming.

As you explore breeds, keep in mind that several factors shape a dog’s personality and traits:

  • Genetics: They inherit traits from their ancestors, just like we do.
  • Environment: They learn things from their surroundings (especially other dogs and people).
  • Instinct: They’ll use trial and error to solve problems.
  • Training: They learn from you (and your dog trainer, if you use one).
There are more than 300 recognized dog breeds in the world (depending on who you ask).

How Many Dog Breeds Are There Worldwide?

The answer depends on who you ask. In the United States, we often defer to the American Kennel Club for pedigreed dogs; worldwide, the World Canine Organization (aka Federation Cynologique Internationale) is the authority. Keep in mind that breeds can become extinct. Wikipedia maintains a list of breeds that are or may be extinct if you’re interested.

How many breeds does the AKC recognize?

The American Kennel Club says there are more than 340 dog breeds worldwide, but they recognize only 197 pure breeds, at least as of 2021. To be recognized by the AKC, someone has to start a “parent club” for the breed and apply to be recognized by the AKC. You can see a list of breeds by the year they were admitted to the AKC, and note that they have been consistently adding one or two breeds every year since 1878. The most recent addition is the Biewer terrier, added in early 2021.

The AKC classifies its breeds into seven groups:

  • Herding group: shepherds, sheepdogs
  • Hound group: Dachshund and lots of breeds with “hound” in their names
  • Miscellaneous: newbies (see “How does a breed get recognized,” below)
  • Non-sporting group: variety of breeds including Dalmatian, Lhasa apso, and poodles
  • Sporting group: spaniels, retrievers, pointers, and setters
  • Terrier group: more than 30 types of terriers
  • Toy group: includes Chihuahuas, papillons and miniature breeds
  • Working group: includes giants like mastiffs, Newfoundlands, and giant schnauzers

What is the FCI and how many breeds does it recognize?

The World Canine Organization is also the Federation Cynologique Internationale. The FCI’s official list of pedigree dogs worldwide as of 2020 recognizes 353 breeds of dogs that are classified in 10 groups:

  • Group 1: Sheepdogs and cattle dogs
  • Group 2: Pinschers and schnauzers
  • Group 3: Terriers
  • Group 4: Dachshunds
  • Group 5: Spitz and primitive types
  • Group 6: Scent hounds and related
  • Group 7: Pointing dogs
  • Group 8: Retrievers
  • Group 9: Companion and toy dogs
  • Group 10: Sighthounds

The FCI is an international association of nearly 100 kennel clubs around the world, but not including the American Kennel Club (AKC).

How Does a Breed Get Recognized?

Breed statuses are not awarded overnight. For the AKC to recognize a breed, you have to have had at least 300 of the dogs over three generations, in addition to a national club established with at least 100 members in 20 states. New breeds fall into the “miscellaneous” class for at least three years before they can become full AKC registered. Full AKC registration requires clubs to demonstrate that they are active by holding competitions, shows, workshops and events.

Although mixed breeds and crossbreeds don’t get “official recognition” by worldwide kennel clubs, they make for the BEST pets.

What About Mixed Breeds and Crossbreeds?

Mixed breed dogs typically have unknown breed histories (although you can get doggie DNA tests that will approximate your dog’s heritage), aren’t bred by breeders, and typically do not have a traceable, clear parent breed.

Crossbreeds are deliberate combinations of two breeds, especially in an effort to capitalize on the favorable traits of two or more breeds. The golden doodle is an example of a popular crossbreed. Golden retrievers have a loyal and lovable temperament, while poodles tend to be low-shedding dogs. Combine the two and you’ve got an affable big dog that doesn’t shed much!

While some mixed breeds, mutts, mongrels and crossbreeds might have their own clubs, neither the AKC nor FCI recognizes any as “official” breeds. Humph!

Even dog breeds with low-barking habits use their barks, whines, howls and bays to communicate their needs.

Barking: Dog Breeds and Their Noises

Dogs bark to communicate with you. They’re trying to tell you something is wrong, they want to play, they’re protecting you, or they need something. Yet, some dogs bark more than others, and some seem to bark just to hear the sound of their own voices.

Learn more about dogs and their barks with BarxBuddy’s Guide to Dog Barking.

According to the AKC, the following breeds have reputations for being infrequent or “as needed” barkers:

smartest dog breeds in the world
Some dog breeds are smarter than others (that is, depending on how you define “smart”).

Training: Dog Breeds and Their Intelligence

Are some breeds smarter than others? Every dog is different, and the research suggests that a dog’s intelligence varies from dog to dog, just like human intelligence varies from person to person. It doesn’t have much to do with breeds, although some breeds have instincts that make them easier to train than others.

Psychology Today classifies dog intelligence in three “major dimensions”: instinctive intelligence, adaptive intelligence, and working and obedience intelligence.

Instinctive intelligence of dogs

Some dogs were bred to do certain things, like herding other animals or sniffing and retrieving for hunters. From generation to generation, these instincts are passed along, which makes sheepdogs, for example, natural fits for farms and ranches. This is what’s referred to as the instinctive intelligence of dogs.

Adaptive intelligence of dogs

Continuing with our sheepdog example, all sheepdogs have the same instinctive intelligence, but their adaptive intelligence varies from dog to dog. Think of adaptive intelligence as what dogs learn to do themselves. An easy way to understand is to use an example: A hungry stray dog knows that certain containers are filled with treasures (which we humans know as trash); a hungry domestic dog knows to pester his owners for food.

Working and obedience intelligence of dogs

This type of intelligence refers to a dog’s ability to learn when taught by humans. Fetch, sit, stay — these are all examples of working and obedience intelligence, as is our train, treat, repeat method of positive reinforcement dog training.

What are the smartest dog breeds in the world? The border collie, poodle, German shepherd, golden retriever, and Doberman top the list.

Dog grooming needs do vary by dog breed. Some can get away with periodic baths while others need weekly scrubbings.

Grooming: Dog Breeds and Their Care

Some breeds are higher maintenance than others, that goes without saying. Their grooming needs depend on their coat type — long-hair, medium-hair, short-hair, wire, and even hairless dogs have different needs for bathing and grooming. Nail trimming depends on the dogs’ sizes and how much time they spend outside, especially on hard surfaces that naturally file down their nails.

Long-hair dogs that might require more grooming

Grooming needs also depend on how much they shed. Some breeds are seasonal shedders, while others rarely shed (poodle), and yet others frequently (dalmatian) shed. And, of course, larger dogs require more maintenance than smaller dogs.

Dog breeds that are low-shedding

  • Afghan hound
  • American hairless terrier
  • American water spaniel
  • Australian terrier
  • Bichon frise
  • Bolognese
  • Boston terrier
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Maltese
  • Miniature schnauzer
  • Poodles
  • Shih Tzu
  • Yorkshire terrier

Probably one of the most important concerns, when we talk about grooming, is allergies. Some breeds tend to do better with the estimated 10% to 20% of the U.S. population that is allergic to dogs (according to the medical journal Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Research). Many of the breeds listed above as low-shedding are also on the hypoallergenic list.

‘Hypoallergenic’ dog breeds

  • Affenpinscher
  • Afghan hound
  • American hairless terrier
  • Barbet
  • Bedlington terrier
  • Bichon frise
  • Bolognese
  • Boston terrier
  • Chinese crested
  • Coton de Tulear
  • Giant schnauzer
  • Irish water spaniel
  • Kerry blue terrier
  • Lagotto romagnolo
  • Lowchen
  • Maltese
  • Miniature schnauzer
  • Peruvian Inca orchid
  • Poodles
  • Portuguese water dog
  • Russian tsvetnaya bolonka
  • Soft-coated wheaten terrier
  • Standard schnauzer
  • Yorkshire terrier