Dogs evolved right alongside us for the last 40,000 years or so and have been revered by humans throughout history for not only their hunting skills and the other essential jobs they perform, but as best friends, too. For that all-important role, we tend to select dogs that suit our lifestyle and our personality, seeking a blend of specific dog characteristics and personality traits that resonate with us. After all, like our human friends, our canine buddies need to be simpatico.
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Compatibility — look before you leap
Adding a new canine member to your family is a huge commitment and a giant leap of faith, too. The more you research personality traits of different types of dogs and study dog breed info, the more you'll understand the breed differences and get an idea of what you're looking for in your ideal dog.
If you've decided to adopt a dog, shelters are full of great dogs who need loving homes. When you visit your local shelter or rescue, ask about the backgrounds of the available dogs. You may have to make some educated guesses based on appearance, behavior, and evident dog traits. Look before you leap and choose wisely or be prepared to adjust your life accordingly.
After all, as the American Kennel Club says, "You're committing to care for a living, breathing being who will depend on you his entire life!" They emphasize that to be a responsible dog owner, you must thoughtfully and seriously assess your needs before making a decision. Will a dog's personality traits, breed-centric characteristics, and individual quirks enable him to thrive and be happy in the environment you can provide? Think carefully about what types of dogs and dog traits would suit you best.
AKC dog breed selector
If you're considering purchasing a purebred puppy or adult dog, the AKC website is an excellent source for all things canine. From its dog breed selector to puppy finder, the AKC offers potential dog owners the chance to explore the different types of dogs and their dog characteristics and delve into dog breed info all in a one-stop virtual experience.
With tons of videos and articles about dog characteristics, nutrition, grooming, training tips, and expert advice galore, it's hard to go wrong in choosing the types of dogs who have dog traits you desire in a canine pal.
The AKC marketplace exclusively lists 100 percent AKC puppies from AKC-registered litters and breeders who must pass muster according to the rules and regulations established by the AKC. Beware of puppy mills, backyard breeders, and pet shops, which often purchase whole litters by mail from indiscriminate, unethical breeders.
Types of dogs and personality traits
Purebred dogs are bred for specific roles, and every kind of dog possesses associated personality traits that equip the dog to perform her role effectively. However, some of the most lovable mutts on the planet have a hodgepodge of fabulous personality traits passed down to them from their diverse ancestry. Not only are mixed-breed dogs often more healthy due to hybrid vigor, but they're also full of personality. Your local shelter is most likely packed with an assortment of mixed-breed dogs just waiting for a place to call home.
Hybrids or crossbred dogs are known as "designer dogs" when they're trending, such as goldendoodles (golden retriever and poodle), schnoodles (schnauzer and poodle), and Peekapoos (Pekinese and poodle). When they're not trending, crossbreed puppies are simply the result of accidental breeding or intentional backyard breeding, such as a liaison between a German shepherd dog and Labrador retriever whose puppies are known as German shepradors.
If you're considering a crossbred puppy, you'll want to meet the parents just as you would when purchasing a purebred pup. Also, research the breed info for both mom and dad to learn about the two breeds' personality and temperament, although it's difficult to predict with any reasonable accuracy which breed characteristics will be more predominant in a hybrid. You'll also find crossbreed adults available in shelters and hybrid-dedicated rescues.
AKC dog breed resource
As mentioned, an excellent place to start your research on types of dogs and dog breed info is the AKC website. The organization recognizes 193 dog breeds, which they categorize into groups that feature breeds with similar dog characteristics, such as physical, temperament, and personality traits. Among them are the sporting, non-sporting, herding, working, hound, terrier, and toy groups.
AKC sporting group personality traits
Are you up for some invigorating exercise with your dog? Then maybe a dog in the AKC sporting group would be a good match. Regular, vigorous exercise is necessary to keep them fit and content. The sporting group dogs are gentle, calm inside the home but exuberant in the field, sweet-natured, fun-loving, devoted, and affectionate companions that include spaniels, pointers, retrievers, and setters.
Renowned for their superior instincts in the water and woods, many, like the rugged Labrador retriever, have water-resistant coats and excel in hunting, retrieving game, and other field activities. Personality characteristics of dogs in the sporting group also include eager to please, high trainability, friendly, intelligent, and energetic with a joyous love of life. Sporting group dogs love outdoor play and field sports. From swimming to a game of fetch, these go-getters are the perfect dogs for an active family with room to play outside — for example, a large, fenced yard — and they are particularly suitable for country life.
Among the breeds in the sporting group are:
- Labrador retriever (most popular dog in America since 1991, according to the AKC)
- German shorthaired pointer
- English springer spaniel
- Golden retriever
AKC non-sporting group personality traits
The AKC non-sporting group is diverse and includes a broad spectrum of breeds of vastly different sizes, shapes, colors, coats, and temperaments. What they all have in common is an impressive set of dog traits. The dogs of the non-sporting group are known to be intelligent, playful, alert, reserved with strangers, and confident.
Among the breeds in the non-sporting group are:
- Chow chow
- Lhasa apso
- Miniature and standard poodle
AKC herding group personality traits
Couch potatoes need not apply! The AKC herding group dogs are high-energy whirlwinds of activity who think for themselves and can expertly guide massive animals anywhere they please. Highly intelligent, fiercely loyal, and affectionate, herders make lively companions as long as you give them something to do. Vigorous exercise, mental stimulation, agility sports, and obedience training suits these dogs' love of working just fine.
Among the breeds in the herding group are:
- German shepherd
- Australian cattle dog
- Belgian sheepdog
- Bouvier des Flandres
AKC working group personality traits
The AKC working group is comprised of breeds that are bred specifically to work, such as sled dogs, rescue dogs, and protection or guardian dogs. Each of the breeds within this group has unique traits. For example, socialization and obedience training is essential for the guardian breeds whose strong personalities require an owner with an equally strong personality. Otherwise, these dogs soon become the pack leader.
Giant breeds like the Saint Bernard need a whole lot of space, and sled dogs like the husky need an enormous amount of exercise regularly. The key personality traits of dogs in the working group are keen intelligence, loyalty, and devotion.
Among the breeds in the working group are:
- Great Dane
- Doberman pinscher
- Siberian husky
- Saint Bernard
AKC hound group personality traits
Prized throughout history for their natural ability and stamina to chase down quarry by sight or scent, hounds are blessed with an even temperament. Affectionate and relaxed in the home, when lazing by the hearth, someone unfamiliar with hounds could never envision them in hot pursuit on the trail, but hounds are relentless and bred to follow the scent or sight of prey. For this reason, if you're considering a member of the AKC hound group, you'll need a fenced yard and you'll need to be prepared for regular on-leash walks to keep them happy and safe.
Hounds' personality traits are courage, intelligence, and confidence. Some hounds can also be noisy when they get excited. Their unique vocalization is known as a "bay," a howl-like call that is music to a hound enthusiast's ears.
Among the breeds in the hound group are:
- Rhodesian ridgeback
- Afghan hound
AKC terrier group personality traits
Not for the home that already hosts pet rats, cats, ferrets, or other small animals, the breeds of the AKC terrier group are lively, spirited dogs renowned for being tenacious, smart, and inquisitive. Originally bred to kill rats and other vermin, these live wires are wired to chase small animals. Some terriers may not like other dogs, either.
A typical terrier is feisty and bold, fearless and playful — the perfect companion for active, fun-loving people who have lots of time to share playtime and love.
Among the breeds in the terrier group are:
- Jack Russell terrier
- Airedale terrier
- American Staffordshire terrier
- Bull terrier
- Dandie Dinmont terrier
AKC toy group personality traits
Diminutive and cute as buttons, the dog breeds in the AKC toy group are ideal for apartment living. Prized as lap dogs, the toy breeds make perfect companions for the elderly or anyone who loves a cuddly little pal with a big personality. Smart as a whip and alert, toy breeds are feisty and fearless with a tendency to bark. Although they won't be tackling an intruder, they have the guarding instinct and let you know when someone's at the door.
Irresistible toys love to play with their dog or cat playmates or curl up with you on the sofa. Easy keepers with generally low-shed coats, a toy breed is suitable for couch potatoes who can provide indoor play and games for exercise and mental stimulation.
Among the breeds in the toy group are:
- Toy poodle
- Shih Tzu
- Yorkshire terrier
Dog traits make them favorites
After reviewing the dog characteristics of different breeds, you most likely have a good idea of the best fit for your family. If you already share your life with one of these breeds, you'll know what makes them so unique. Whether they are fluffy lap warmers, herders, guardians, your kids' playmate, or your sports buddy, each brings many superb personality traits to the table. After all, millions of people swear by their favorite among them, and some families stay loyal to their breed of choice generation after generation.
For example, Pembroke Welsh corgis owned by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth captured the heart of their daughter Elizabeth II, queen of England, as a small child. Now in her mid-90s, the queen is still passionate about this fun-loving, mischievous, and confident breed. Since 1952, she has owned 30 of them.
Dog aficionados adore their favorites for many diverse reasons, especially their specific dog traits and their charming personalities. From consistently popular breeds like goldens, poodles, German shepherds, and Labs to one of the 20 rarest breeds like the state dog of Louisiana, the Catahoula leopard dog, a dog's breed-centric traits are what make them so appealing to the people who love them.
- American Kennel Club: Dog Breed Selector
- American Kennel Club: Sporting Group
- American Kennel Club: Most Popular Dog Breeds – Full Ranking List
- American Kennel Club: Herding Group
- American Kennel Club: Non-Sporting Group
- American Kennel Club: Hound Group
- American Kennel Club: Terrier Group
- American Kennel Club: Toy Group
- American Kennel Club: Working Group
- American Kennel Club: AKC PuppyFinder