Which Breeds Are in the AKC’s Working Group?
More than 400 different types of purebred dog exist across the globe. The American Kennel Club (AKC), however, only acknowledges breeds with true lineages and active groups perpetuating and developing them. Once recognized, the breed is assigned a Group and added to the AKC’s Stud Book.
In 1887, the first Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show featured just 9 breeds, all from what are now called the Hound and Sporting Groups. Though the AKC itself would not form until 1884, those breeds are considered the first to be recognized by the organization. Upon its founding, AKC recognized an additional 20 breeds ranging from the St. Bernard to the Dachshund.
That almost haphazard assortment of breeds would gradually become more organized throughout the following decades. In 1923, the AKC organized the breeds into distinct groups for the first time, creating five categories: Sporting Dogs, Working Dogs, Toy Breeds, Terriers, and Non-Sporting Dogs. A breed’s physical appearance, historical function, and temperament help to determine its group.
Today, the AKC recognizes 195 breeds across eight categories: the Herding Group, the Hound Group, the Miscellaneous Class, the Non-Sporting Group, the Sporting Group, the Terrier Group, the Toy Group, and the Working Group.
Breeds belonging to the Working Group are typically large, strong, and devoted members of the family. Whether serving as guard dogs, helping carry heavy loads, or commanding search and rescue missions, these breeds love having a job to do. Until 1983 (when the AKC created the Herding Group), the Working Group included sheep and cattle herding dogs like the Belgian Malinois and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
The Working Group now includes the following breeds:
Originating in ancient Japan, the Akita is a muscular and imposing dog that nevertheless possesses an affectionate, even silly, side. They are born protectors and a symbol of good health and fortune in their home country.
Among the oldest types of sled dogs, the Alaskan Malamute still helps pull cargo through harsh winter terrain. The breed is immensely strong and makes for an affectionate, loyal addition to the family.
Dating back more than 6,000 years, the Anatolian Shepherd is a rugged and devoted guardian. Today, the breed helps watch over endangered cheetahs in Namibia.
Though it was bred to guide livestock and otherwise help around the farm, the Bernese Mountain Dog is now more commonly a companion dog. Still, its strength and immense size serve as reminders of the breed’s former life.
Bred as part of a Soviet-era program, the Black Russian Terrier is a muscular and imposing breed. It inherited qualities from all three of its ancestors — the Rottweiler, the Giant Schnauzer, and the Airedale.
Recognized by the AKC in 2015, the calm and confident Boerboel is one of the Working Group’s newest members. With their strong bites and thick muscles, they make for intimidating and effective guard dogs.
The energetic Boxer once participated in big game hunts, as well as now-illegal sports like dogfighting and bull baiting. Today, it’s one of America’s favorite breeds and recognized as a loving, loyal companion.
Bred as an aid to British gamekeepers, the large Bullmastiff surely scared off many would-be poachers. The breed is still an imposing one, often weighing over 120 pounds.
The majestic Cane Corso’s name literally translates to “bodyguard dog” in Latin. It has earned its moniker by serving as a loyal guardian since the Roman Empire.
The official state dog of New Hampshire was first bred as an answer to Alaska’s impressive sled dogs. Arctic adventurer Arthur Treadwell Walden developed the breed to much acclaim during his lifetime, but it now ranks among the AKC’s rarest.
Hailing from Germany, the sleek, regal Doberman Pinscher is a natural guardian. Both the breed’s imposing physique and considerable intelligence make it a perfect fit to protect any flock or family.
One of the AKC’s newest breeds, the Dogo Argentino was bred to hunt fierce game like wild boar. That lineage is evident in the breed’s strong jaws and athletic build.
Perhaps best known for its supporting role in Turner and Hooch, this breed is sometimes called the French Mastiff. French and American dog lovers alike revere the Dogue of Bordeaux for its affectionate nature and incomparable sense of loyalty.
Another sleek and athletic pinscher, this breed is among Germany’s oldest and considered the “prototype” for other varieties. It is mid-sized in comparison to the Miniature Pinscher and larger Doberman Pinscher.
Brave and obedient, the Giant Schnauzer first appeared in the 19th-century Alps where the breed served as a guard dog and cattle herder. Today, they’re recognized as champion show dogs, as well as watchful companions.
This huge, affectionate breed’s name is actually a misnomer. Great Danes originated in Germany as hunting dogs and companions. You might recognize the breed as the inspiration for famous dogs like Marmaduke and Scooby-Doo.
The “Pyr” is a born shepherd that helped ward off dangerous predators for centuries. That protective spirit still makes them wary of strangers and protective of their families.
Like its Group-mate the Bernese Mountain Dog, this breed hails from the mountains of Switzerland. Today, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is more likely to serve as a loving companion than a devoted farmhand.
This large and distinctive breed is covered from head-to-tail in fluffy, white, tendril-like hair. The Komondor’s unmistakable look has historically helped it to blend in with sheep and better protect them.
Like the Komondor, the Kuvasz is a fluffy, white breed that originated as a Hungarian sheepherding dog. Despite the breed’s impressive size, they are regarded as gentle and protective companions.
This gentle giant is the only member of the Working Group that was originally intended to serve as a companion. Throughout the 19th-century, the Leonberger became both a favorite pet of aristocrats and a trusted worker for farmers.
Don’t let the Mastiff’s huge frame scare you away. The breed is a devoted and compassionate member of any family, as well as a formidable guard dog.
Properly socialized, the Neopolitan Mastiff is a sweet and loving breed that just so happens to weigh as much as 150 pounds. Experts believe the breed could date back to 700 BC.
Bred to assist fishermen, the giant Newfoundland still loves to swim. The breed is now recognized for providing a watchful eye and serving as an affection playmate.
This loveable breed has not lost its taste for swimming over the centuries. Originally a friend to Portugal’s fisherman, the breed is now a favorite of families across America. In 2008, President Obama and family selected a Portuguese Water Dog named Bo as the nation’s First Dog.
Though it’s known today as a guardian, the Rottweiler was originally bred as a herding dog. The breed’s imposing physique belies a loving and affectionate nature.
The “Savior of the Swiss Alps,” this intelligent breed helped rescue stranded travelers and provided companionship to the region’s monks for centuries. St. Bernard’s still love to bound about in the ice and snow.
Samoyeds or “Sammies” are both strikingly beautiful and impressively strong. Employed as sled dogs, they pull huge loads of equipment through subzero temperatures and unforgiving landscapes.
The Working Group’s most familiar sled dog, the Siberian Husky was bred to pull sleds alongside a pack. This breed needs a nutrient-rich diet to maintain its shiny coat and boundless reserves of energy.
Smaller than its relative the Giant Schnauzer, this breed also originated in Germany where it aided hunters and served as a guide dog. They were once classified within the Terrier Group.
Smart, stoic Tibetan Mastiffs have a distinctive, double-layered coat. The breed’s history is still very mysterious, but they were first observed by Westerners when they began traveling to Tibet in the mid-19th century.