There are more than 340 dog breeds across the globe. The American Kennel Club recognizes 193 “official” breeds of dog. Dogs come in an almost unending array of sizes, colors, and shapes, and there are many ways to classify types of dogs into different groups6. One such method for classifying dogs is by their job. People created many dog breeds for specific purposes or duties. Their physical characteristics enabled them to complete these duties. In this article, we will discuss the different types of dogs based on what job they were bred for.
Types of Dogs For Vermin Control, aka Ratters
Many dog breeds were bred to be “ratters,” meaning their primary purpose was to hunt and kill vermin that live underground. In addition to rats, ratters could also hunt other burrowing animals such as badgers, foxes, and moles.
Characteristics of a Ratter
Ratters are short, capable of entering into tight underground burrows. They have a short, rough coat that sheds dirt easily and they are muscular. Ratters’ short, thick tails can be used as a “handle” to pull the dogs out of burrows.
They are intelligent, capable of successfully hunting and cornering their prey without instruction from their handlers. These breeds never give up; they have a confident and stubborn nature.
Typical Ratter Breeds
People created many terrier breeds to hunt rats. These include border terriers, cairn terriers, Jack Russel terriers. Other breeds include dachshunds and miniature schnauzers.
Types of Herding Dogs
Dogs have been helping us herd livestock for thousands of years. Herding breeds created specifically to corral other animals have also protected and served humans in other capacities as well. Some herding breeds drive flocks by circling, barking, and nipping the heels of the livestock. Others simply fix the animals with a silent, intimidating stare.
Characteristics of Herding Dogs
Herding breeds are quick and agile enough to run around livestock, but also strong and muscular. They are intelligent and perceptive, capable of taking subtle commands from their shepherds even over long distances. These breeds possess restraint too; they can chase and corral animals without letting a hunting instinct take over that might cause injury to the animal.
Typical Herding Breeds
Shepherds, such as the Australian shepherd, Belgian shepherd, and German shepherd, sheepdogs, and collies were all bred for the purpose of shepherding livestock. Breeds like corgis and cattle dogs were also created for similar purposes.
Types Of Hunting Dogs
Hunting dogs are a type of dog bred to locate, chase, contain, and even kill prey. Some hunting dogs are bred to corner prey that an accompanying human could then kill. Others were created to hunt and kill other predators that pose a risk to people. Due to a Hunting dog’s incredibly strong prey drive, training a strong recall is a must.
Characteristics of Hunting Dogs
There are two distinct hunting strategies for dogs, and which one they utilize depends largely on breed and confirmation. These are sight hounds, which use sight to hunt, and scent hounds, which rely more on smelling their quarry.
A sight hound, or a dog that primarily uses sight to hunt, is generally from an area with a lot of open ground. These animals are fast runners, able to pursue game and hunt without the aid of their handler remaining close by. Sight hounds often work in packs but can work independently too. They tend to be a little high-strung with very high energy and exercise needs. Sight hounds often exhibit upright, pointed ears, long legs, and large, barreled chests. These breeds hunt bigger prey such as wolves, bears, or deer. They are strong, muscular, and have high levels of endurance. Examples of sight hounds are Irish wolfhounds, greyhounds, whippets, and deerhounds.
A scent hound, or dog that uses a sense of smell to find their prey, is more associated with hunting small game in forested areas. Scent hounds have been for stamina and strength rather than speed and agility. Scent hounds are generally very focused, capable of honing in on one scent and ignoring everything else around them. Many scent hounds exhibit shorter bodies and long, trailing ears that stir scents from the ground up into their noses. Examples of scent hounds include bloodhounds, basset hounds, beagles, and coonhounds.
Types of Sledding Dogs
Unlike hunting dogs, sled dogs were bred to transporting goods and people by pulling sleds over ice and snow. These dogs provide the only form of transportation in areas that would otherwise be inaccessible for months out of the year.
Characteristics of Sled Dogs
Sled dogs are large and powerful. They have thick coats able to withstand the arctic temperatures of their homes. They have insanely high levels of endurance, enabling them to run for days without stopping.
The breeds most commonly associated with sled dogs include Siberian huskies, Alaskan malamutes, and samoyeds.
Companion dogs come in a variety of shapes and sizes. These generally small dogs represented status symbols for royalty and other elite members of society. They were companions for the wealthy and, unlike the breeds listed above, did not serve other purposes such as hunting or herding.
Characteristics of a Companion Dog
Companion dogs can vary dramatically in appearance, but generally, they are small and soft. Small companion animals can fit in the laps of their owners, and their soft, often white, coats belied their position; only a companion animal could have a coat that could become easily matted or dirty, but never be so. Companion animals are incredibly friendly, devoted to their people, and most at peace when their families are very close by. Examples of companion dog breeds include toy poodles, shi-tzus, and Maltese.
Grouping Types of Dogs
There are many ways to describe the types of dogs. When we examine the purpose for which certain breeds were created, we can see similarities in their confirmation that make them ideal for that job. A companion animal would clearly make a poor sled dog just as a ratter would have significant trouble hunting a deer. Regardless of their original purpose, we love dog breeds today, but we can also admire how well-suited these dogs were for their intended jobs.