From majestic sighthounds to lovable lap dogs, giant breeds to toy terriers, it’s easy to take for granted just how many types of dogs there really are in the world. In fact, the handful that you might see at the dog park or on a stroll through the neighbourhood with their friendly Dog Walker represents only a small fraction of the different dog breeds that exist today—not to mention the ones that were lost to history over the years.
But, if you’re looking for a definitive answer to how many dog breeds there are, we’re sorry to say, it’s a bit more complicated than a single round number! The official number of dog breeds can vary greatly depending on who you ask, with discrepancies of over one hundred dog breeds between major kennel club lists.
So, what’s the deal? Why is it so difficult to know how many dog breeds there are and why is there no universally accepted dog breeds list? If you’re ready to get into the weeds about dog breeds—and uncover some doggy drama along the way—this article is for you!
To start, what do the major kennel clubs say about how many different dog breeds there are?
Most countries have their own kennel club or dog fanciers club that is responsible for maintaining a list of official dog breeds. This registry of accepted dog breeds helps the club organise and set the rules for dog shows, issue pedigree papers, and match potential Dog Owners with reputable breeders.
And this is where things get tricky. Kennel club official lists vary greatly from one another.
One of the most well-known international associations, the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI), has 360 dogs on their list. The Australian National Kennel Council, on the other hand, lists only 216, similar to the UK Kennel Club, which lists 222. Another big name in the dog world, the American Kennel Club, is even more exclusive, with only 197 breeds on their list.
Why do the kennel clubs disagree? And which one is the most reliable?
Interestingly, the discrepancies between kennel clubs may actually have more to do with paperwork than the dogs themselves.
The AKC points out, for instance, that they only recognise breeds that have a set number of registrations in the United States. If there aren’t enough doggos to make their own club and undergo the recognition process, they won’t make the list of official dog breeds. It doesn’t mean that the American Kennel Club denies the existence of the dog breed, but rather that the breed is not prominent enough in the US to gain formal recognition.
That said, the world of pedigrees isn’t without its drama, and if you look hard enough, you can find a few spicy dog breed feuds. One such case has to do with the Reverend John Russell, a prominent dog breeder in the 1800s. Reverend Jack’s dogs would later be known as the John Russell Terrier, or the Parson Jack Russell Terrier, or the Jack Russell Terrier, OR the Parson Russell Terrier. Some dog fanciers chalked it up to a simple name dispute, while others claimed that there were actually separate breeds within the family. To this day, most kennel clubs group them all together under the modern moniker, the Parson Terrier. But, the ANKC says no! The Parson Terrier and the Jack Russell Terrier are two distinct adorable dog breeds.
As you can see, given the logistics and politics, it can be quite difficult to find a list that encompasses all dog breeds. So, if our question here is “How many types of dogs are there?” which list gives us the best answer? If you’re thinking globally, it’s best to stick with the FCI, which offers the most comprehensive list of existing dog breeds. But even that number of 360 dog breeds might be an undercount, so let’s take a look at some of the types of dogs that also deserve recognition!
Types of dogs beyond the kennel clubs
As you’ve probably surmised by now, kennel clubs can’t give us a full picture of the types of dogs that exist today. Hybrid dogs, for instance, tend to be left out of major kennel clubs, even though they are spiking in popularity in many countries. Doodles, Pomskies, Chiweenies, Shepskies, and Puggles are just some of the many so-called designer dogs who won’t be winning titles at Crufts or Westminster any time soon. If you were to consider these dog groups to be unofficial breeds, then you could easily add a few hundred dogs to your dog breeds list!
You can also spend plenty of time going down rabbit holes learning about all of the different dog breeds that no longer exist. Doggos like the Newfoundland, for instance, wouldn’t be around if not for their predecessor, the St. John’s Water Dog. And we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the cuddles of our modern Mastiffs without the Ancient Greek doggo, the Molossus. Clearly, trying to figure out how many dog breeds have ever existed would be a monumental task.
How can you start learning about all the different types of dogs?
The history of dog breeding is full of intrigue, twists and turns, and plenty of drama. After thousands of years of moulding our modern doggos, it’s no wonder that we haven’t been able to come to international agreement about how many dog breeds there really are!
In our Mad Paws Dog Breed Corner, you can join us in the dog breeding archives as we learn more about all of the different dog breeds we know and love today. From designer dogs to ancient basal breeds, our list keeps growing. And given that new crosses are born every day, we may never find out just how many types of dogs exist today! Of course, learning about the different dog breeds isn’t just interesting, it’s also a great way to learn whether a dog’s personality is the right match for your lifestyle and anticipate whether you’ll need a groomer or dedicated Pet Sitter on speed dial.
How many types of dogs do you know of?