Throughout the world, there are more than 400 purebred dogs. However, the American Kennel Club only recognizes and accepts breeds with a lineage, as well as those with an active breed group to perpetuate and develop the line. For that reason, the AKC does not recognize many breeds. Once recognized by the AKC, the breed appears in the AKC Stud Book.
When the American Kennel Club was founded in 1884 (then called the Philadelphia Kennel Club), it haphazardly listed its original 29 different breeds. Breeds as different as the dachshund and the mastiff were lumped together on the list.
As the list of purebreds grew, club officials realized they needed to organize the many different purebreds into distinct groups. In 1923, the AKC organized the breeds into five categories: Sporting Dogs (including hounds), Working Dogs, Toy Breeds, Terriers and Non-sporting Dogs.
Today, there are 163 breeds divided into eight categories: Sporting, Hound, Herding, Toy, Working, Terrier, Non-sporting and Miscellaneous. Each breed is placed in a specific category, based on temperament, physical appearance and function.
Then there's the group for breeds that just don't seem to fit into any other group. This is the diverse non-sporting group. They have different personalities as well as different temperaments. They don't herd, they aren't used for their strength and they don't have a natural hunting ability. Not small enough to be in the toy group, these dogs are grouped together for lack of a better place.
Dogs belonging to the Non-Sporting Breed group include:
American Eskimo. Descended from the German "Spitz" line of dogs, the American Eskimo was bred from ancient times to watch over people and property. The Eskimo is a small- to medium-sized dog that bonds closely with his family, and tends to distrust strangers.
Bichon frise. The bichon frise is not only a great lapdog, but the curly-coated white breed is recommended for people with allergies. The bichon frise loves attention and is very affectionate.
Boston terrier. These dogs are excellent companion pets, happy playing or just spending the day next to their owner on the couch. Though called a terrier, the Boston does not have a typical terrier temperament. They make good watchdogs and are naturally protective.
English bulldog. Once you get used to their snoring, the bulldog will prove to be a cherished family pet. Not much on exercise, the bulldog just needs to spend some time checking out the grass several times a day.
Chinese Shar-pei. With his characteristic wrinkly body, this breed is instantly recognizable. The shar-pei is easily housetrained. In a way, the breed's fastidiousness and attitude is a little like a cat's; they can be a little standoffish and will act like king or queen of the household if the owner lets them.
Chow chow. The chow is one of the most easily recognized breeds. Popular because of his thick fluffy coat, the chow is a great guard dog. His teddy bear looks are quite deceiving. This dog can launch an impressive attack if provoked.
Dalmatian. Well known for his characteristic spotted coat, the Dalmatian is an old breed often associated with firehouses.
Finnish spitz. The National Dog of Finland, the Finnish spitz is not a common breed but has many admirers. Primarily a companion, the Finnish spitz is a natural protector, especially in regard to children.
French bulldog. The French bulldog is not into barking, but will alert the family to strange noises. An ideal pet for apartment living, the French bulldog is fun loving and friendly.
Keeshond. A Dutch favorite, the keeshond is a loving and devoted family pet. Related to other Arctic breeds such as the chow chow, samoyed and Pomeranian, the Keeshond has a thick coat to protect him in harsh weather.
Lhasa apso. The Lhasa apso hails from Tibet, where the dog is called apso seng kye (bark lion sentinel dog). In fact, the lovable Lhasa's keen hearing and intelligence make him a good watchdog. However, the small furry breed is even more exceptional as a lapdog.
Lowchen. If this little dog was called by his colloquial name, you might understand his strange hair cut. The Lowchen is referred to as the little lion dog and his grooming requirements certainly reflect this.
Schipperke. Pronounced "skipper-kee," the Skips (as they are nicknamed) were originally bred as watchdogs, hunters of vermin and as companions. They excel at all three.