Dog Breed Categories

What are the dog breed categories?

The Kennel Club sorts all 221 pedigree breeds into seven categories or breed groups.  Breeds in each group generally have similar traits, both in appearance and temperament, and were often bred with these traits in mind.

The categories are: Gundog, Hound, Pastoral, Terrier, Toy, Utility, and Working. We’ve looked at each of the dog breed categories, what traits define them and some specific breeds from each group.


Also known as sporting dogs, there are three main types of Gundog; Retrievers, Flushing Dogs and Pointing Breeds. They were bred to help hunt, either to go an retrieve the game, or flush the animal out.

Loyal and intelligent, breeds that belong to this group have lots of energy and make fantastic companions!

Common Breeds: Poodle, Golden Retriever, Irish Setter, Cocker Spaniel


Hounds are generally one of two types: a sight hound, or a scent hound. Originally bred to help with hunting, hounds have a strong sense of sight or smell, depending on the type and are very active when presented with “prey”.

A mostly active group, breeds in this group require lots of exercise and lots of rest too! 

Common Breeds: Beagle, Whippet, Greyhound, Basset Hound, Dachshund


Dog breeds that were specifically bred to help with work on the farm are put into the pastoral category.

The pastoral group is the best group when it comes to helping take care of other animals. Intelligent dogs with a natural propensity for herding, these breeds are often seen on farms or estates!

Common Breeds: German Shepherd, Border Collie, Pembroke Welsh Corgi


Breeds in the terrier group were bred for dealing with wild animals like rats and badgers.

Good burrowing skills helped them find and deal with pests so if your dog is constantly digging up your garden, you might have a terrier!

Terriers can be feisty, especially when there is prey around. They are also extremely active, so they’ll keep you busy!

Common Breeds: Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier, Irish Terrier, Scottish Terrier


Many of the toy breeds weren’t bred for a particular job but to be kept as companions. Toy breeds include many of the smallest breeds, so they work well as pets in apartments and cities.

You’ll see many of the toy breeds are also popular family pets because they are lovable, friendly and don’t need lots of exercise!

Common Breeds: Pug, Chihuahua, King Charles Spaniel, Pomeranian


The utility group is a catch-all for breeds that don’t fit into any of the other dog breed categories. Because of this, the utility group breeds differ the most from each other and there aren’t any traits that are common across every breed.

Breeds in the utility group were often bred for specific individual purposes that don’t fall into one of the other groups.

Common Breeds: Akita, French Bulldog, Schnauzer, Lhasa Apso, Dalmatian


Some of the larger breeds belong to the working group. Often bred for security or to help with strength-based tasks, working dogs can be large and loud!

With working dogs being on the larger side, they need quite a lot of space to play. They aren’t particularly suited to apartment living!

Common Breeds: Siberian Husky, Boxer, St. Bernard, Great Dane, Doberman

Read more about some of these breeds in detail!