Dog breeds are typically divided into a few basic categories: companion dogs, guard dogs, hunting dogs, herding dogs and working dogs. The top dog breeds for every purpose are represented here. Despite the names, in contemporary America, most breeds - even hunting or herding dogs - service as companies for individuals and families.
Dog breeds are dogs that have relatively uniform physical characteristics developed under controlled conditions by humans, with breeding animals selected for phenotypic traits such as size, coat color, structure, and behavior. The Fédération Cynologique Internationale recognizes 337 pure dog breeds. Other uses of the term breed when referring to dogs may include pure breeds, cross-breeds, mixed breeds and natural breeds.
In Great Britain the Kennel Club maintains a list of “vulnerable native breeds.” This refers to breeds that were developed in the UK which register fewer than 300 individual dogs per year. There are currently about 29 breeds on this list, with more breeds on the Watch list, meaning they are close to Vulnerable status. Although the Kennel Club in Britain registers fewer dogs than we do in the U.S., the situation with purebred dogs in the U.S. is similar. While the Labrador Retriever - the top dog registered by the AKC for over 20 years - has tens of thousands of individual registrations every year, other breeds have far fewer numbers. Beyond a few popular breeds, most breeds have relatively small numbers of dogs registered each year. We have many breeds in the United States which register only a few hundred individual dogs per year.
Though groups like the American Kennel Club make very specific designations about breeds and breed hybrids, there continue to be new breeds and breed variants developed all the time, as well as "up and coming breeds" not officially recognized by kennel clubs and experts. (Many dogs not purchased directly from breeders are also mixed-breeds of some kind, or have less than purebred ancestry.)
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