Welcome to Lesson 6

A quick introduction to Dog Breeds!

This lesson introduces you to what you will really share your home with.  Which is a wolf, just in different clothes!

Dogs evolved from wolves.  Wolves started to attach themselves to us about 100,000 years ago.  They scavenged our leftovers and that’s where our relationship with them started. By hunting and working together, wolves and man were a successful team that could bring home more food.  So it became a successful and lasting partnership with man in the lead role. Dogs continue to see us as their leaders today, although some dog breeds attach themselves more firmly to us than others.

As man developed, and moved to different areas of the world, our ‘wolves’ went with us.  Over time these evolved into different shapes, for different purposes and different climates.

Most pure dog breeds started life as working dogs with a purpose, such as guarding livestock, pulling loads, killing vermin and bringing home food.   However as people became wealthier, they wanted and could afford a companion which didn’t have to bring home food or guard the flocks.  So companion dogs were created, which were often smaller and less energetic to fit with being indoors or in the garden rather than mostly outdoors.

Our need for dogs to do many different things led to specialisation into different breed types.  We then started to classify them into breed groups based on what they did so that there was a coherent grouping of types (as far as possible).

What breed group a dog belongs to can tell you a lot about whether it is suitable for certain lifestyles.  Strongly ‘working’ breed groups such as herding dogs and gundogs are not usually suitable for homes with limited time for exercise, for example.  These dogs are often extremely high energy, designed for all day work, and can get destructive and difficult when not given the exercise they require.

In the UK the Kennel Club has set their breed groups as:

  • Working – eg guarding and rescue dogs.  Exercise needs are moderate to very high.
  • Hound –hunting by scent or sight.  Exercise needs range from moderate to very high.
  • Terrier – used for hunting vermin (rats, rabbit, badger, otter).  Exercise needs range from moderate to very high.
  • Pastoral – herding dogs for working the fields.  Exercise needs tend to be high to extreme.
  • Toy – smaller companion dogs.  Exercise needs tend to be very low up to moderate
  • Utility – a mix of breeds which don’t fit easily into the other groups.  Exercise needs are in a wide range so check carefully.
  • Gundog – used to find and retrieve shot or live game.  Usually high to very high exercise needs.

In this context, high exercise is over 2 hours per day.  Extreme exercise would be well over 3 hours a day.

As you can see from the UK Kennel Club groups, there are variations in the exercise requirements within the group.  However the general groups do give you an idea of where to start looking.

A person who is an outdoor type and a keen runner could be well suited to herding or gundog types.  A less energetic person might investigate some of the hounds or utility breeds.

Understanding dog breeds is not only useful in getting a pure breed puppy or adult.  It also helps with cross-breeds too. If someone tells you that cute puppy at a rescue centre is a ‘collie crossed with a springer’ then you will know it will grow up to be a highly active dog requiring very high exercise.  Possibly that would be ideal for you if you are a keen mountain biker, but not if you think exercise is walking to the corner shop and back.

Lesson 6 coursework

Get to know the general breed classifications for your national Kennel Club.  Find out what these classifications say about the dogs in the different groups.  Do certain kennel club groups and certain breed characteristics seem more suited to you?

Remember all this is coming to you in your free end-of-course book.

Look out for Lesson 7 in your e-mails.

If you’re enjoying this and finding it useful, please tell me.  I’d love to know what you think.

Bev x


P.S.  There’s a whole chapter devoted to dog breeds and 220 accurate breed profiles going in the book so you’ll have everything in one place.  To find out more (without committing to anything), just drop your name and e-mail in here



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