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Why Are There So Many Dog Breeds?

While compiling the dog breeds list, I was amazed at how many breeds of dogs there are, and I wanted to find out why.

Dog breeds continually appear and disappear, with new breeds bred for popularity and fashion. New working species help with different jobs.

Currently, there are about 400 dog breeds in the World. Many dog breeds have disappeared over time, but new, different species have taken their place. New kinds of dogs are due to the desire for something more perfect than what came before.  In this article, we look at why there are so many breeds of dogs.

Dog breeds beginning with:


You can learn more about how dogs evolved from wolves in this article I have written here.

Variations In Breeds

The variety in dog breeds has allowed individuals to differ in color, coat type, body structure and size, and weight.


Dogs come in many colors, including cream, gray, gold, red, liver, blue, brown, black, tan, and many more. Many dogs come in combinations of these colors.

Coat Type

Dogs have many different types of coats. Some breeds, such as the Xoloitzcuintli, are hairless, whereas the Puli has a corded coat. Some species, such as the Dalmatian, have a short, single coat, whereas the Chow-Chow has a full double coat. Yorkshire terriers have a long-haired silky coat, whereas the Afghan Hound has a semi-long coat. Breeds like the Fox terrier have a wire-haired coats, whereas poodles have curly coats.

Size And Weight

There is a vast difference in the sizes and weights between different breeds. A Dachshund with a height at the withers of 20 cm can be bred, along with an almost one-meter tall Irish Wolfhound or Great Dane.

Different Uses

Humans soon learned to recognize the positive qualities of a dog breed and use them to their advantage. With a growing love for dogs, their use in various human activities increased. This new popularity led to new dog breeds that differed from others, not only in their appearance but also in their behavior.

The variations in different breeds have contributed to other jobs and use for dogs.

Dogs were initially bred to help with hunting but have since been used as assistance dogs, fire dogs, messenger dogs, Police dogs, Army dogs, herding, and of course, as pets.

Hunting Dogs

Initially, the vast majority of breeds originated as hunting dogs. Different species were needed for other weather conditions and hunting aspects, leading to the creation of many different hunting dogs.

Different burrowing dogs have been bred, mainly because of the need to end a fox hunt successfully. Chased by tall-legged hounds, the fox would disappear into a burrow, unable to be caught.  This led to the breeding of the Fox Terrier.

Some hunters had Fox Terriers but did not like the white color and hair. By mixing different breeds of Terriers, a new species was created. A new species, the Jagdterrier, was created. This breed was black with reddish-brown markings, which does not need much grooming, like a Fox Terrier.

Despite this, the Fox Terrier did not fall out of favor, as many hunters also preferred the white color on a burrowing dog, spending several hours a year processing their hair to have a dog to their liking. 

When hunting birds, different breeds of dogs could show the hunters where the bird was hiding so that they could catch them.

Besides hunting, dogs have also had another purpose from the beginning of their coexistence with humans.

Guard Dogs

For many generations, some dog breeds were friendly to people they knew, while they were pretty vicious to strangers. New, modern species of guard dogs were bred by the purposeful breeding of dogs that were distrustful of strangers.

Breeds such as the Rottweiller, Puli, Komondor, and German Shepherd were initially bred to be guard dogs.

Service Dogs

Dogs are intelligent, and several breeds are used as assistance and service dogs in several ways.

Guide dogs assist the blind and visually impaired. The breeds of dogs used are generally Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and crosses of both species. Labradors and Golden Retrievers were breeds chosen for their ease of training and even temperament.

Police and Military Dogs

The Police and Military have used different breeds, such as the German Shepherd, Bloodhound, Dutch Shepherd, and Belgian Malinois, for various activities.

Police dogs are usually male and generally more aggressive than female dogs. However, female dogs are used to track, rescue, and detect drugs or bombs.


Dogs have been kept as companions for a long time, with a fossilized canine skull found in Siberia suggesting that dogs were domesticated as long as 30,000 years ago.

However, it is only in the 20th Century that dogs were bred primarily for this purpose.

Dogs are now bred for their appearance, not their functionality, with many new breeds, such as the cockapoo, The Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen, and The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje.

The origin of new breeds is due to the following:

  • An almost entirely purebred dog was created in isolated areas, characteristic of their surrounding habitat.
  • Large landowners bred dogs of different types on their estates, keeping them relatively purebred.
  • Purposeful, deliberate crossbreeding of different breeds to create new species with specific exterior properties and behavior

The rapid development of biological sciences and the knowledge of genetic laws have introduced order into dog breeding.

Lovers of different breeds have united in societies and unions to help each other breed different breeds of dogs.

The concept of purebred breeding appeared, strictly protecting the thoroughbreds, not allowing them to crossbreed. Genealogical pedigree books are kept for individual breeds in which registered individuals are recorded. A certificate of their origin is issued, known as the pedigree.

Distribution Of Breeds

Not all dog breeds are represented in all countries. Most dog breeds are distributed only in their countries of origin and in countries joined to them. Only about one-fourth of all species can be found in most countries of the World. Therefore, in several countries, the majority of species are entirely unknown. These breeds are only seen at international exhibitions.

The distribution of a breed is due primarily to its use. In some cases, this is due to their attractive properties. Some people want a dog breed that no one else has. If they are then engaged in further breeding, that breed will take its roots in the new country, enriching the dog breeds’ diversity.

Breeding can be unsuccessful if the breed is not popular or the country’s climate does not correspond. Sometimes, a species cannot find enough enthusiasts to develop and spread.

What Are The Reasons for Dog Breeds Increasing?

Fashion and popularity often play a significant role in distribution. The number of dogs in the breed increases sharply, with older species giving way to a new, fashionable, popular species in a few years. 

However, it is not always possible to argue that the breed’s popularity is beneficial.  

Commercial, opportunistic reasons can bring unhealthy breeds if dog organizations do not intervene. Organizations must take vigorous measures to ensure that only typical individuals are included in the breeding. They also need to check that the selection of parental pairs, regardless of demand, strictly obeys the selection’s basic requirements.

Many historical examples prove that after a breed’s decline in popularity, only those breeds working and functional significance remain in high populations.

For example, if the Scottish Terrier were used for work purposes, the number of registered puppies would not have decreased to the number of a few pets. A few decades ago, it was fashionable for a lady to keep a Scottish Terrier. After World War I, the Fox Terrier became a fashionable breed. 

In the 1930s, the number of records of Fox Terrier puppies was the highest of all breeds. With the lower popularity of the Fox Terrier, the number of entries in this breed’s pedigree book decreased.

The Fox Terrier has not disappeared. For many years, their numbers have remained at the same level, a relatively high numerical level corresponding to the need for its use for hunting.

There is currently a reduction in large breeds, which small, short-legged ones are replacing. There are various reasons for this. Small dogs are more convenient in cities where the population is concentrated in high-rise buildings.

They do not need large spaces for exercise, are easier to transport outside the city, and consume less food. The love of small breeds can be seen not only in North America but throughout the World. 

The breeding of small dogs is not associated with any danger in the disappearance of large breeds. Larger breeds move away from the cities and into the country.

Taxonomy Of Dog Breeds

 A single taxonomy of dog breeds does not yet exist. The classification of dog breeds is based on their origin or use. The taxonomy in different countries depends on how many individual species are represented and used. 

Terrier breeds are sometimes not isolated as an independent group but are included in other groups according to the method of their use.

For example, the Airedale Terrier belongs to the service breeds. Fox Terriers, Jagdterrier, Lakeland Terrier, and Cesky Terrier, together with Dachshunds, form a select group of normal dogs. Some terrier belongs to the hounds, and non-hunting terriers are included in indoor and decorative dog breeds.

The situation is similar for Schnauzers and Spitz. Small and miniature schnauzers are sometimes classified as service breeds. Similarly, some shepherd breeds (shepherd dogs) in some countries are classified as service breeds. This breeds separation is artificial and should only be used as a guideline.

Dog Breeds By Letter