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Find the best dog for your family

Virginia Chavez is a Phoenix-based freelance writer covering pets and lifestyle in the Southwest. In addition to regular contributions both online and in-print, Virginia locally owns and operates two pet care and supply businesses. For t...

Which breed is right for your family?

With hundreds of breeds classified by the American Kennel Club, how is a future pet owner to choose? Not to create any "cliques" in the dog world, but pets are like children, so to help out, we’ve broken down AKC’s dog breed groups high-school style.
Golden Retrieve

German ShepheredThe Honor Roll

Herding dog breed

The smarty-pants of the dog world, this group is home to some of the most intelligent dog breeds in the world. Among them, the German shepherd and Border collie are often recognized for their work in society as police dogs and film actors. Due to their natural-born instincts, members of this breed are best suited for households with active family members who have plenty of time to spend training and exercising their herding dog on a regular basis.

happy golden retreiverThe In-Crowd

Sporting dog breed

If there were a popular group in the dog world, the sporting dog breeds would be a part of it. Members of this group include golden retrievers and Labradors, both ranking among the most registered dogs in America. Gentle and fun-loving, dogs in this breed group tend to make excellent family pets in homes with children. A highly active breed, most dogs in this category will require daily exercise and socialization. If you’re looking for a jogging buddy, you might just find one in a sporting breed.

pugThe Teacher’s Pet

Toy dog breed

If you’ve got love and a lap, you’ve got a friend. Dogs in this breed group are classified for taking satisfaction in simple companionship. Breeds like, Yorkshire terriers, pugs and Shih Tzus fall under this category. This attention-loving breed is always more than happy to be by your side, in fact, they prefer it. Due to their small and fragile statures, some members of this breed group may need to be supervised around children.

beagleThe Nosey Bunch

Hound dog breed

Hounds are the group with a nose for action. Hound dogs come in all shapes and sizes, from greyhounds to bloodhounds and beagles to Irish wolfhounds. One thing these breeds have in common is their natural hunting instinct, which gives them excellent stamina. Breeds in this group make wonderful family pets, as they love to play and run, but they also enjoy downtime at home.

Irish TerrierThe Debate Team

Terrier dog breed

Terriers are the group that must be heard. Comprised of breeds including the bull terrier, Irish terrier and miniature schnauzer, terrier dogs were bred to dig up dens and bark loudly to force out burrowed prey for hunters. Today, terriers still use their vocal skills to get their way. Potential owners are advised to be as headstrong as the breed. This high-energy breed must have an equally high-energy household to keep these natural born hunters out of trouble.

DobermannThe Big Dogs on Campus

Working dog breed

These are the bodyguards of the dog world. Great Danes, mastiffs and Dobermans are all working dogs. Bred as guardians for livestock and personal property, these breeds are protective and determined by nature. Potential owners should have previous pet ownership experience and must place a strong emphasis on training early on.

Bichon FriseThe Individuals

Non-sporting dog breed

These breeds simply didn’t fit in with any of the other groupings and have created a group of their own. From bichon frises to bulldogs and Dalmatians to Boston terriers, the non-sporting dog breeds offer a little something for everyone. Breeds in this group are highly individual and don’t share many common traits, so researching each breed will ensure a good fit for your household.

More on choosing a breed

What a dog breeder won't tell you
Best dogs for women who live alone
Best dog breeds for new babies

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