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 breed. For that reason, the AKC does not recognize many breeds. Once recognized by the AKC, the breed appears in the AKC Stud Book. Each breed is placed in a specific category, based on temperament, physical appearance and function.
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 slowly 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, the AKC recognizes 163 breeds, divided into eight categories: Sporting, Hound, Herding, Toy, Working, Terrier, Non-sporting and Miscellaneous.
The dogs belonging to the terrier group were originally used to hunt vermin. Most are small and have distinctive personalities. Terriers tend to be feisty and energetic. Most enjoy being the center of attention and the center of the family. They are eager to play and need an owner who understands their special needs, which includes a desire to dig as well as chase anything that moves.
Dogs in the Terrier Breed group include:
Airedale. As the largest member of the terrier group, the Airedale can be intimidating. Though they may seem aloof to strangers, the breed is very loving towards his family, especially towards children.
American Staffordshire terriers. The American Staffordshire terrier is a powerful and intimidating dog, when he wants to be. When it is just him and his family, he is a loving and easy going breed.
Australian terrier. Native to Australia, this little dog is one of the smallest working terriers. A good watchdog, this dog is smart and tough.
Bedlington terrier. When properly groomed, this dog looks a little like a lamb. Developed to chase vermin, the Bedlington is a persistent dog but also a loving family companion.
Border terrier. Originating in Great Britain, the border terrier seems to never need rest. A hard worker, this dog readily chases small critters and needs strong fencing to keep him contained.
Bull terrier. With a long sloping egg shaped head, this dog stands out in a crowd. With small triangular eyes and erect ears, the bull terrier always causes a doubletake.
Cairn terrier. Despite their small size, the cairn terrier is a tough little dog. This breed does well in any living environment as long as there are people around.
Dandie Dinmont terrier. This little active terrier is related to the Scottish terrier, cairn terrier and West Highland white terrier. With a specialized hair coat that makes the dog look a little goofy to the novice, this breed is an excellent companion and family dog.
Glen of Imaal terrier. Standing only 14 inches tall, the Glen of Imaal has a long body and short legs. Similar in appearance to the cairn terrier, this terrier was bred in Ireland to hunt badgers.
Irish terrier. This terrier may be small but looks like a miniature Irish wolfhound. An excellent companion, this dog also loves to chase rabbits and is not the best choice for a home with pet bunnies.
Kerry blue terrier. Originally from Ireland, the Kerry blue has been used to hunt vermin, small game and birds. As an all purpose dog, the Kerry blue has even been used to herd sheep.
Lakeland terrier. From England, the Lakeland terrier is a tough and active dog. Very courageous, this breed is known to follow quarry underground for long distances.
Manchester terrier. Often mistaken for a miniature pinscher, the Manchester terrier is black and tan. The breed has been used to eliminate rats and chase rabbits.
Miniature bull terrier. A smaller version of the bull terrier, the miniature also has an egg shaped head. Weighing less than 20 pounds, this dog is great for someone who loves the bull terrier but not his size.
Miniature schnauzer. An excellent watchdog, the miniature schnauzer hails from Germany. Intelligent, reliable and protective, this breed is one of the most popular of all schnauzers.
Norfolk terrier. Often confused with the Norwich terrier, the Norfolk has pendulous ears. As with the Norwich terrier, this breed is an excellent ratter.
Norwich terrier. Similar to the Norfolk terrier, the Norwich has erect ears. Active and perpetually happy, this dog is a great family pet.
Parson Russell terrier. A lively breed, the Parson Russell has recently become very popular. Unfortunately, many people do not realize that it takes a special and understanding individual to own a Parson Russell.
Scottish terrier. This working dog from the Scottish Highlands weighs around 15 to 20 pounds. Most often black, the Scottie is highly intelligent and needs daily exercise. Tough and compact, the Scottie is a loyal and protective family member.
Sealyham terrier. Hailing from Wales, this dog is more of a companion than a working terrier. A friendly dog, the Sealyham is also a great watchdog.
Skye terrier. With a long flowing coat, the Skye terrier is a beautiful Scottish breed. Though not as popular as his Scottish terrier, cairn terrier and West Highland white terrier cousins, the Skye is slowly finding his way into people's hearts.
Soft coated wheaten terrier. A medium sized terrier, the wheaten seems to love life and human companionship. A useful terrier, this breed is more often found as a family pet.
Smooth fox terrier. The smooth fox terrier hails from England and was used to drive foxes from their holes. Originally classified as a sporting dog, the smooth fox terrier soon found his proper home with the other terriers.
Staffordshire bull terriers. Often unfortunately confused with the pit bull, the Staffordshire bull terrier is a powerful and intimidating dog, when he wants to be. A little smaller than the American Staffordshire, this version hails from England.
Welsh terrier. Another dog hailing from Wales, the Welsh terrier is extensively used in his homeland to hunt badger, fox and otter. Slowly gaining popularity in the US, this breed is most often black and tan with a harsh coat.
West Highland white terrier. This small white terrier is playful and loveable but does require some exercise to keep him happy. A great size for an apartment, the Westie is a good watch dog and faithful companion that needs grooming to keep his coat mat free.
Wire fox terrier. Even though the history of this breed is similar to the smooth fox terrier, the wire fox terrier is considered a separate breed. Both varieties naturally chase and drive foxes from their holes.