GENERAL BREED INFO

What Dog Breed Is Right for Me: Choosing Between 10 Dog Breed Groups

What Dog Breed Is Right for Me
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The canine world comprises a large variety of dog breeds that have different physical and behavioral characteristics. They can be small, medium or large sized and oscillate between gentleness, aggressiveness, courageousness, stubbornness and so on. Different dog breeds may share some of the same characteristics, but they also have particular features. FCI or the World Canine Organization has divided all dog breeds in 10 groups that are supposed to be very helpful in the process of making a decision.

What dog breed is right for me? This might be a question for which you did not find an answer yet, but you soon will after going through the following presentation.

FCI’s 10 groups of dogs

Do you want a balanced, attached and good guard dog? – group 1

Generally, dogs belonging to Group 1 are calm, very attached to humans and excellent guard dogs. For example, a very popular dog breed from this category is the German Shepherd. With a great sense of duty, it makes a notable companion that is able to adapt. It is a multipurpose dog with a high level of activity, strong, brave and not at all pretentious. It can be raised in a yard or in an apartment.

Moreover, the Belgian Shepherd and the Briard are also part of this group. The Briard was noticed for its extraordinary sense of vision. Its peripheral vision is an asset of its breed. Large dogs, the Briards move effortlessly, but they resume strictly to doing what is required.

Belgian Shepherd dogs

If they are used for purposes other than those for guarding flocks, they are recommended to active people who have time and energy to keep up with them. When not offered anything to do, they will find themselves something that you might not like, such as digging holes in your yard or chewing on your shoes or other precious objects. They like to move, take long walks and always have something to do. They do well in various canine sports like flyball, agility exercises and training. Participating in various forms of activities keeps them in a great shape and so could you!

Although it does not belong to this group, the Bulldog is an excellent guard dog for protection and escort. It is brave, faithful, kind, obedient, intelligent and vigilant. Surprisingly, dogs from this breed need to always be surrounded by people in order to be truly satisfied and happy. They tend to be stubborn during training, but once trained, they will obey their owners and I will be faithful.

Despite their small size, the Miniature Pinscher, the Doberman, the Japanese Akita, the American Akita, the German Boxer and the Miniature Schnauzer are amazing guard dogs too, but they are not included in Group 1.

Do you want a good defense and watch dog?  – group 2

Group 2 comprises dog breeds like Pinscher, Schnauzer, mountain dogs and Swiss Cattle dogs. They are trustworthy dogs, but they should be well trained if you want them as company dogs. The Central Asian Shepherd Dog is also part of Group 2, so you can rely on them for security and defense. These dogs feel best in an open space outdoors and less comfortable in an apartment.

Moreover, the Doberman is a dog that comes with a guarding instinct and needs no training in this regard. Determined, fearless, and obedient, it can be raised in an apartment if its owner allocates time for its daily walks. It can be good family dog if you raise it around children.

A Miniature Schnauzer is recommended if you are looking for a good hunter of mice and other small rodents. It is a good watchdog and companion dog, playful and attentive to children. The same can be said about Fila Brasileiro, which is obedient and very dedicated to its owner. In Brazil, this dog’s loyalty has become a legend. It loves children from its family and tolerates them even if they are bothering it continuously.

Miniature Schnauzer

Conversely, Dogue de Bordeaux is a dog breed characterized by aggressiveness towards other dogs.  It is calm, very devoted, loyal and gentle with familiar people, but aggressive and dominant with strangers. It can adapt to life in an apartment if it gets enough exercise.

The Carpathian Shepherd is an option too, thanks to its balanced and calm nature and because it is faithful and willing to sacrifice in need. However, if you want a dog from this category, you need to take into account its dimensions, its nutritional needs, and its dressage needs, which are higher than those for a small or medium dog. Dogs of this type are especially recommended for people with experience in raising dogs, who understand their nature and needs. They have to be socialized a little and benefit of a firm, consistent and varied training that is also friendly.

Do you want a hunting dog? – group 3

The name terrier comes from the Latin word terra, which means earth and refers to dogs that hunt in the ground or, more specifically, in burrows. Terriers were trained to either chase away the prey from its lair, or to catch and kill. The larger copies were used as guard animals, while the smaller ones are valued as pets. The Yorkshire Terrier is a perfect example in this regard.

Classic Terriers with short or long legs are tenacious, courageous and aggressive towards predators. Because of their innate hunting instincts, they cannot be trusted around small animals if they were not socialized since young age. These dogs are energetic, lively, very noisy and with a tendency to dig wherever and whenever they can.

American Staffordshire Terrier

Bulldog Terriers, such as Bull Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers were created by crossbreeding with aggressive dogs. Although they have reputation of fierce animals in general, they are, in fact, very friendly with people, even friendlier than classic terriers. They are intelligent and can be tamed rather easily, even if sometimes they can be a little stubborn.

They have lots of energy and love to be active. They must be socialized with other animals and they adapt to any living conditions. The most representative dog breeds for this group are the Airedale Terrier, the Bull Terrier, the Cairn Terrier, the Fox Terrier, the Scottish Terrier and the West Highland White Terrier.

Do you want a sociable and hunting dog? – group 4

This group includes 3 varieties of dogs with short, long and wiry hair. Germans called it Dachshund because it was bred to hunt badgers, but it can also hunt other wild animals, such as rabbits, foxes and wild boar.

Dachshund dog

Depending on its size, it is divided into 3 groups, namely standard, miniature and “little rabbit”. Dogs belonging to this breed are courageous, vigilant, lively, tenacious, curious and sociable. They adapt easily to any living conditions, being friends with their owners and good watchdogs of homes. Due to their hunter instinct, dogs of this group are not reliable when it comes to other animals that might be present in a household. In order to preserve their physical condition, they need a medium level of activity.

Do you want a Spitz-type dog or primitive types?  – group 5

The Spitz-type dogs or the Nordic dog breeds as they are called. They were born on different continents, but they originate from the northern areas that have a cold climate and where only the healthiest and most vigorous dogs survive. In general, they have many similarities, namely dense fur, pointy ears and curved tail.

They resemble wolves when it comes to appearance and behavior. They had various uses like hunting and guarding herds of cattle, security, defense, company, destruction of possible harmful animals and sometimes hauling sleds. These dogs are happiest in cold climates because they love snow and low temperatures.

Japanese vs American Akita

When it comes to their activity level, they love to move and take long walks. Some of them like to roam and they leave their homes if they have the opportunity, especially the Japanese Akita, the Alaskan malamute, the Samoyed and the Siberian husky. The Spitz-type dogs get along well with other dogs. They are not aggressive, but very sociable with other dogs.

They are intelligent, brave, willing to learn, but quite independent and stubborn too. Contrary to some opinions, they can be trained, but only by experienced persons with an active lifestyle. Some of the breeds belonging to this group are the Spitz, the Akita, the Chow-chow and the Basenji.

Do you want an energetic and agile dog?  –  group 6

During the Middle Ages, when hunting wild animals was a matter of survival, using a dog was necessary because it was able to hunt in dense forests, open fields and marshy places. That is the period of time when people started to crossbreed dogs in order to obtain the ultimate hunting dog.

For example, the Bloodhound was used in Europe and North America to track down animals such as rabbits, foxes, raccoons, opossums, deer and wild boar. The finding missions were organized in packs and they were successful thanks to these dogs’ sense of smell and their exceptional hearing.

Dalmatian dog

Dogs belonging to this group are very energetic and they tend to be quite noisy, so they might disturb your neighbors. They are not ideal apartment dogs and they are also not suited for the elderly. In addition, because they were used to hunt in packs, they get along well with other dogs and they are friendly with everyone.

They can generally be trusted with children and others playful puppies. As for their appearance, most specimens from this group are tall with long legs and facial wrinkles. There are also smaller breeds like the Basset Hound that have the same traits. The Beagle, the Brac and the Dalmatian are part of this category too.

Do you want a playful and active large dog? – group 7

These dogs used to be trained for field research. Their most known characteristic is that when they see a prey or when they want to point at something, they simply freeze. They remain motionless, trying to point in the direction of the prey. The dogs from Group 7 are quite large with expressive eyes and big ears. Their sense of smell is very good and they have a passion for hunting.

As for their temperament, they are active and need plenty of exercise. Also, they are obedient, faithful and gentle. Because a Pointer has a pretty strong hunting instinct, it cannot be trusted in the company of small animals, including cats. Many of these dogs were bred to work away from the hunter and could have independent thinking and tend to roam.

Gordon setter playing

Most of these dogs enjoy spending time with their family and there is nothing they like more than playing, whether on land or in water. All the specimens belonging to this category can easily integrate in the life of an active family. They love children and outdoor activities too.

The Vizsla, the Irish setter, the Gordon setter and the Pointer are appreciated for their companionship as well. They are elegant dogs that have the ability to accommodate in a controlled living environment as long as they can benefit of exercise and participate in various activities along with other family members.

Do you want a hound or a water dog? – group 8

This group includes specialized hunting dogs that are characterized by a lively temperament, resistant to fatigue and bad weather, good sense of smell and passion for contribution. Intelligent, active, friendly, gentle, obedient and brave, these dogs love to work. They get along well with other animals from a household especially if they know each other since young age. They can easily adapt in an active family, because they like to move, outdoor activities and they love children. If in the past they were used for hunting only, these days they are used as companions.

Portuguese water dog

However, because of their notable sense of smell, they can be trained to track down thieves and missing people. Examples of such dogs are the Labrador retriever, the Golden retriever, the Cocker Spaniel and the Portuguese water dog.

Do you want an entertaining dog?  – group 9

Entertainment dogs are generally small and medium sized and they are pleasant, funny and decorative as well. Several European breeds were created in order to keep the companionship of women part of the high society who were not taking part in hunting sessions and who usually preferred the company of other ladies. The beauty, elegance, temperament and size of the recreational dog were important selection factors. These dogs are excellent playmates for children, accompanying them gladly and faithfully defending them.

They are always alert, energetic, playful, courageous and full of life, with a delightful personality. They belong to a large number of breeds that man has created for companionship.

lhasa Apso puppy

Some breeds from this group are the Miniature Schnauzer, the Miniature Pinscher and the Miniature Spitz. Some breeders reduced the size and the weight of numerous dog breeds, coming up with really small specimens with delicate conformations that were supposed to be toy dogs. Since ancient Greek, but especially in the Renaissance threshold, women possessed very beautiful dogs, fact which became a kind of snobbery. Aristocratic women spoiled their dogs with ribbons, creating fashion house dogs.

Examples of such dogs are the Bichon, the Poodle, the Griffon, the lhasa Apso, the Shih Tzu, the Pekingese, the Papillon, the Chihuahua, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, the French bulldog, the Pug and the Boston terrier.

Do you want an elegant looking dog?  – group 10

With origins in the Middle East and Asia, Greyhounds have long, narrow bodies. They are tall, thin, muscled and look very elegant. At first, this dog type was also used for hunting, but then, they became racing dogs. The first dog races took place over 400 years ago, under the reign of Henry VIII. The English Greyhound and the Slough are the fastest greyhounds, but the best sprinter is the Whippet. These dogs have high energy levels and are, therefore, recommended to active owners, lovers of sports, with experience in raising dogs.

Borzoi or Russian Greyhound

They like to run beside their owners while they are riding bikes. These days, thanks to their elegant silhouette they are kept in apartments. Examples for this group are the Greyhound, the Afghan Hound, the Persian Greyhound, the Russian Greyhound, the Irish Wolfhound, the Irish Wolfhound, the Slough and the Whippet.

Do you want a pure breed dog or a half breed dog?

There are differences between pure breeds and half breeds, but they differ mostly in terms of what the buyer wants. A few hundred years ago, people brought wild dogs in their lives. Initially, they were used as an aid to work. In many parts of the world, different species of dogs of various shapes and sizes were domesticated.

Over the years, dogs began to become less important as aid workers, but more important as companions. Regardless of their role in the world, people have continuously tried to modify their skills, behavior, size, shape, color and conformation in order to obtain copies suited for different purposes.

Race dog purpose

If you are looking for a dog and you need it for a specific purpose, then you could choose a pure breed dog that was selectively chosen taking those traits in mind. Even if any dog can be trained, it would be wiser for you to pick a dog that is already good at what you need it to be. If you only want a companion dog that looks in a specific way, then you wouldn’t really need a pure breed.

For as long as the dog looks like to you want it to, then it really does not matter. Some dog owners find certain breeds more attractive than others and simply have to have a dog of those breeds. It would be inconceivable for them to choose a dog from another breed or one of a half breed.

Some dog breeds are known to have certain personality or behavioral patterns. You can choose one that fits your style or that matches your desires. For example, as mentioned above, Golden Retrievers are known for their quiet personalities. This might be an ideal dog for some people, but definitely not for others who would probably like to feel safe at night while their dog is protecting them.

Those pure breeds already trained to do a specific activity are the obvious choice. In case of half breed, you cannot really know what to expect. However, half breeds deserve as much love and the pure breeds do.

Conclusions for an easy decision

Most often, dogs adapt to their owners’ behavior. If you are a very active person who goes out in the park and runs often, then choose a dog that can keep up with you. Instead, if you are busy all day long and you come home tired, then you should choose a lazier dog that is not a big fan of physical activities. In case you have a kid or a whole family, then you should avoid lazy dogs because kids might drain all their energy. Obviously, you will have to take your dog to training, but that doesn’t make much difference for docile and companion dogs.

There are other factors besides the general ones listed above that you might take into consideration, namely the length of a dog’s fur, its shedding levels, its nutritional needs, its possible health problems and so on. The truth is that no matter how hard you try, you might not pick the perfect dog, but it will definitely become perfect in time because you and your family members will begin to love it and appreciate it regardless of its qualities or skills when it comes to doing simple or complicated tricks.

A companion or a utility dog will become part of your life and it being pure breed or half breed will not change that emotional aspect.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

  • Betty Roster

    I have a question on what breed will be right for my daughter who’s moving in on her own. She’s 25 and away from home around 10 hours max so she might bring the dog to daycare. She also runs a lot and would like a running partner. She also will be moving to an apartment unit with “breed restrictions”.
    She loves the looks of spitz and huskies but a small-medium breed suits her more. What’s an intelligent breed that will also double as her protector? Any thoughts?

    • A Lhasa Apso is a good choice. It is a dog breed that can thrive in apartments and has low to moderate exercise routine. It is also very intelligent and brave.

  • Elizabeth

    Good article!
    But sometimes you can just go to the shelter and choose that one dog, which will look you in the eyes. At this point, you realize that this is the dog you want to take.

  • Everytime someone asks me what dog breed is right for him, it will actually depend on his needs and how compatible the dog is. You can always find the perfect dog for you, but there should always be a connection.

  • Bruce Morgan

    It is very important to take a balanced approach to the selection of the breed. The dog will live a very short life so make it as comfortable for both of you. Don’t yell at her, don’t hurt her. Choose a dog with which you will want to spend time and play!

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