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November 17, 2011 at 6:04 AMComments: 5 Faves: 0

Purebred Dog Categories

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Purebred Star Blog Series

As a dog trainer, I'm absolutely fascinated with the wide variety of dogs out there. I want to celebrate that diversity, so every week, I'll highlight a purebred dog that I think you'll find interesting. You may even discover that your mix-breed has some of the same characteristics as the purebred featured! Wouldn't it be fun to tell people that your dog might be part Otterhound?

Also, if you know some of the breeds in your dog, you may gain some insight into their quirks and have a better understanding why your dog behaves a certain way, prefers certain foods, or looks the way they do!

First though, before we get into specifics, I'd like to talk a little bit about what it means to be a "purebred" dog.

There are eight different categories of purebreds, but keep in mind that your purebred could have traits that are in two or more categories. For example, a Redbone Coonhound (hunts raccoons) is in the Scenthound category, but will also have many of the characteristics in the Gun Dogs category.


American Eskimo :: Chinook :: Chow Chow :: Karelian Bear Dog :: Keeshond :: Shiba Inu :: Siberian Husky

  • Bred For: Northern Breeds, as their name implies, come from northern areas all around the world. Therefore, the Northern Breeds are bred to endure a very cold environment. They serve many different purposes, such as hunting, herding, and pulling sleds, as well as providing great companionship!
  • Traits: These breeds are extremely active during the winter months. So, if you enjoy sledding, skiing, snowshoeing, or any other outdoor winter activities, this breed may be perfect for you!
  • Care and Keeping: Because of their thick coats, Northern Breeds do best in cooler, colder climates. They tend to be roamers and are known to be escape artist. So, if you choose that this is the breed class for you, beware of their Houdini-like abilities!


Australian Cattle Dog :: Australian Shepherd :: Berger Picard :: Bernese Mountain Dog :: Border Collie :: German Shepherd :: Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog :: Rottweiler :: Puli :: Rough and Smooth Collie :: Cardigan and Welsh Pembroke Corgi :: Wheaten Terrier

  • Bred For: Bred to corral and herd livestock, these breeds have excellent agility and are known for their skills in herding trials and flyball!
  • Traits: Herding dogs are considered to be one of the most intelligent and energetic breeds.
  • Care and Keeping: The herding dogs require an owner with lots of time and energy to keep up with them! These breeds need a job to keep them mentally healthy and happy. When training a herding dog, positive and consistent training is a must - physical correction will not work as they really aren't afraid of much. This breed isn't for everyone, so choose wisely when considering a Herding breed.

Gun Dogs

German Shorthaired Pointer :: Portuguese Water Dog :: Chesapeake Bay Retriever :: Golden Retriever :: Labrador Retriever :: Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever :: Irish Setter :: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel :: Cocker Spaniel :: Tibetan Spaniel :: Standard Poodle :: Weimaraner 

  • Bred For: Gun Dogs are bred to have a strong prey drive. Also known as sporting dogs, these breeds are considered quintessential family pets! Two of the most popular breeds in the United States derive from this category: The Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever.
  • Traits:They're key characteristics include loyalty, friendliness, a relatively high activity level, and being affectionate. Perhaps most importantly, they are GREAT with children! Their overall disposition is easy-going and gentle, and they typically enjoy the water and playing with their family.
  • Care and Keeping: These breeds enjoy being outdoors, making them an ideal pet for some, but not all. They have a tendency to roam and explore, so puppy obedience is a must for these breeds.

Guardian Dogs

American Bulldog :: Bernese Mountain Dog :: Boxer :: Bullmastiff :: Doberman Pinscher :: Dogo Argentino :: German Shepherd :: Great Dane :: Newfoundland :: Perro de Presa Canrio :: Rottweiler :: Saint Bernard :: Schnauzer  

  • Bred For: A Guardian Dog is bred to protect and watch over people, property, or livestock.
  • Traits: Although they can be gentle and friendly with family and regular, familiar guests, they tend to be extremely reserved around strangers. Unfortunately, they can also misinterpret fun child's play (i.e. tag, ball, roughhousing) as a threat and try to intervene in a way that could cause harm. Despite this, please don't mistake all Guardian dogs as making poor family pets. For instance, the Saint Bernard and Newfoundland are part of this breed category, and they make EXCELLENT additions to a full, active household!
  • Care and Keeping: Guardians are typically a large breed, therefore requiring more food, more cleanup duty, and higher vet costs. That said, these breeds are NOT for everyone. If you have a home with children and an open door policy with unfamiliar visitors, you might want to reconsider making a Guardian Dog a part of your family. Positive and consistent training over physical training is a must for these breeds. Most importantly (especially if there are children in the house), socialization at a young age around strangers and children is imperative.


American Foxhound :: Basset Artesien Norman :: Beagle :: Dachshund :: Redbone Coonhound :: Rhodesian Ridgeback

  • Bred For: A scenthound is a dog bred to catch a scent and pursue it without limitation. Therefore, they can be used for search and rescue. They are also great therapy dogs!
  • Traits: Scenthounds are intense, fearless hunters and, depending on the specific breed, can have a one-track mind.
  • Care and Keeping: When they are tracking "prey," they often don't consider busy roads or other dangerous areas. Because of this, a fenced-in yard or leash is imperative. Scenthounds' ears usually drag on the ground in order to help them gain more sensory information on their "hunt." Unfortunately, this also means their ears will probably need to be cleaned on a regular basis to avoid infections. Like any dog, a scenthound does much better when living indoors with their family rather than being kenneled outdoors.

Sighthounds & Pariahs

Afghan Hound :: Basenji :: Greyhound :: Irish Wolfhound :: New Guinea Singing Dog :: Xoloitzuintli

  • Bred For: Known as the world’s oldest type of dog, Sighthounds originated from the Middle East and Asia and were bred to hunt by sight. The Sighthounds and Pariahs are similar in many ways, especially in their keen vision and geographic heritage.
  • Traits: The "runners" of the dog world, they tend to both possess slender legs with a long narrow body and a deep chest. The deep chest helps to hold a large amount of oxygen, so as they run, they don’t lose their breath as quickly. Pariah dogs are occasionally feral, but they are also largely domesticated. Many are considered "catlike," having traits such as fastidious and being primitive in their behaviors.
  • Care and Keeping: Because of their propensity to hunt via sight and extremely high prey drive, reconsider owning a Sighthound or Pariah if you have a cat or any small animal currently living with you. A fenced-in yard will be a must for these breeds.


American Pitbull Terrrier and American Staffordshire Terrier :: Boston Terrier :: Cairn Terrier :: Jack Russell Terrier :: Toy Fox Terrier :: Skye Terrier :: Wheaten Terrier

  • Bred For: Two types of terriers make up this category: traditional and the bull. The word Terrier is derived from the Latin word Terra, meaning, "for earth." The name fits because of their tendency to enter the tunnels and dens of small prey and vermin to hunt them. The bull terriers were created by crossing a tenacious terrier with a bull-baiting dog. They're bred to catch and kill fast-moving prey, therefore making them inhabitable with small animals living in the same household.
  • Traits: Terriers are well-known for their digging. Sadly, the American Pit Bull and American Staffordshire Terriers are also well-known for their unfortunate, misleading media coverage. However, despite their fierce reputation, they are extremely sociable with people people and are actually considered the friendliest of the Terriers!
  • Care and Keeping: If you enjoy having a well-landscaped yard, you might want to think twice before getting one of these breeds. Terriers have traditionally been bred to be stubborn and not easily intimidated. These traits can make them snappy with other dogs and people.

Companion Dogs

Affenpinscher :: American Eskimo :: Basset Artesien Norman :: Beagle :: Bichon Frise' :: Bolognese :: Brussels Griffon :: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel :: Chihuahua :: Chinese Crested :: Coton de Tulear :: Dalmatian :: Dachshund :: English Bulldog :: French Bulldog :: Havanese :: Keeshond :: Maltese :: Papillon :: Pekingese :: Pomeranian :: Pug :: Shih Tzu :: American Pitbull Terrrier and American Staffordshire Terrier :: Boston Terrier :: Cairn Terrier :: Toy Fox Terrier :: Wheaten Terrier

  • Bred For: Don't let the word "Companion" fool you... All Companion breeds were developed for a specific purpose, whether it's hunting, herding, or guarding. Many of these breeds are just a smaller version of a larger breed.
  • Traits: Personally my FAVORITE category! After many generations of serving only as a Companion dog, these little dogs have settled nicely into their new role, making them excellent house pets that get along well with most everyone and other pets.
  • Care and Keeping: "Small Dog Syndrome" (nippy, overly spoiled/coddled, lack of rules and boundaries), can be a common issue in with this breed. Proper socialization at a young age into their early adulthood is a MUST to avoid the problems listed above. A Companion dog will benefit with obedience training to let their manners SHINE!

Now that you have a little better idea of the types of purebred dogs out there, I'll introduce you to a particular "Purebred Star" every week!

What's YOUR Favorite Type of Purebred Dog?


Dog Bible, Edited by Kristin Mehus-Roe, 2005

More from Health Coach Victoria Swanson Others Are Reading


  • I loved learning a bit about each purebreed category. This will be such a great weekly feature! Looking forward to more PureBred Star posts. :)

  • I don't have a dog, but my dream dog is great big Chow Chow or St. Bernard. :)

  • Erin, you will be pleased with next week's highlight :) Just for you!

  • Companion Dog I love this comment "overly spoiled/coddled, lack of rules and boundaries" it sure is true at my house. My little dog Gracie is definitely spoiled and coddled. We love her to pieces, she has seizures once a month and so her dad trees her like a queen and really we both think she deserves it based on what she has to go through.
    Even when she sneezes all over you and I say her name kind of loud "Oh my GOSH GRACE" he will say "oh come on, it's just sugar water!"

  • Yes, I have one too Nancy! But my little Romeo deserves to be spoiled, he is the LOVE of my LIFE! But, he does have rules and he knows them very well, he is the most obedient dog ever, I just LOVE him!

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