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How Many Dog Breeds Are in the World? 2023 Update

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Different dog breeds in the sunset

It seems like every time you turn around, there’s another dog breed you can’t identify. Is there a cap? Well, the real answer is—kind of. You can count up recognized breeds from kennel clubs, but there are other breeds to consider, too.

If you’ve been exploring the web to find a pup, you might have come across lots of “designer dogs” or even mixed breeds from shelters. Do these dogs actually count as “breeds”? We’re going to answer all of these questions, and you’re going to get a ballpark at best. Depending on which kennel club you ask, there are between 187 and 354 recognized dog breeds in the world.

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The History of Domesticated Dogs

Ever since the dawn of time, it seems dogs have been man’s best friend. Partners in crime, the domesticated dog has helped human beings with emotional issues, hunting, tracking, and companionship.

It might be hard to believe that dogs were domesticated over 130,000 years ago! There have been dogs who make an honest day’s work on the farm. Others are pampered and considered royalty.

Pinpointing just how many dog breeds exist depends on who you ask. Kennel clubs accept different variations of breeds, and some fall through the cracks.

golden retriever in harness
Image Credit: Dzmitry Dudov, Unsplash

Kennel Clubs

Kennel Clubs are organizations that hash out all the details for breed quality. These restrictions determine what traits are and are not allowed within certain purebred dogs. There are several kennel clubs scattered across many countries.

How Many Dog Breeds Are There in the World?

Kennel clubs are spanning the world. While most regulations and standards are similar, different countries have their own spin on things.

In the United States, there are two major kennel clubs—the American Kennel Club and the Continental Kennel Club. There is also the FCI, or Fédération Cynologique Internationale, an international canine organization. Here are the number of dog breeds in the world, according to each kennel club:

  • Registered Dog Breeds in the AKC: 200
  • Registered Dog Breeds in the CKC: 187
  • Registered Dog Breeds in the FCI: 356

American Kennel Club

The American Kennel Club was established in 1884 under the first president—Major James M. Taylor. Together with a group of trusted professionals, the team sets rules and standards according to each breed.

Per the AKC website, they categorize breeds as follows:
  • Herding Group
  • Hound Group
  • Toy Group
  • Non-Sporting Group
  • Sporting Group
  • Terrier Group
  • Working Group
  • Miscellaneous Class
herd dogs
Image Credit: Erdenebayer, Pixabay

Continental Kennel Club

Per the CKC website, they categorize breeds as follows:
  • Bully Breeds
  • Companion & Toy Breeds
  • Gun Dog Breeds
  • Large Guardian Pastoral/Mountain Dogs
  • Molossoids & Mastiffs
  • Pastoral & Stock Dog Breeds
  • Pinschers & Schnauzers
  • Primitive, Pariah, & Feral Breeds
  • Scenthounds
  • Sighthounds
  • Spitz & Nordic Breeds
  • Terriers

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Designer Breeds

“Designer dogs” is the coined phrase some breeders use to describe a mixture of two purebred dogs. They might also refer to these dogs as cross-breeds. Of course, throughout history, all modern-day dogs came from combining existing breeds.

More recently in history, breeders combine the names of two breeders to name the crossed combo. Many designer dogs cater to specific traits—like being hypoallergenic. This is why you might see poodles as a popular choice for mixes.

Image Credit: John Edmonds, Pixabay

Some of the Most Common Designer Dogs Today

While the list of designer dogs is ever-growing as people try to meld together a perfect combo, some are very popular today.

portrait of a dog by the sea
Image Credit: Pauline Loroy, Unsplash

Dangers of Designer Dogs

The trouble with designer dogs is that there is a lot of room for error. Selective breeding helps to weed out any unwanted traits, but the entire thing is a process that truly takes time. With newer breeds, you can run into unique problems that present in litters.

Some of these issues include:

  • Unpredictable Temperament: Sometimes, you don’t know what to expect when you cross two breeds. For instance, if you breed a higher energy, more aggressive dog like a Rottweiler with a calm, lazier dog like a pug, you might get an odd combination of personality traits that are hard to define from dog to dog.
  • Backyard Breeding: Unfortunately, anyone can get ahold of two purebred dogs to breed them for profit. That doesn’t mean they will have the dogs’ best interest at heart. Many dogs live in unsanitary living conditions, lack proper nutrition, and don’t receive proper care.
  • Potential Health Issues: Breeds around for a long time have a well-known, solid list of potential issues with the breed. If you breed two different breeds, you will not know just what the pups might wind up with later in life.
  • Inexperienced Breeding: Some people to take a stab at breeding don’t realize all of the work that comes with it. Because of basic inexperience, the puppies and parents might not get the appropriate care or socialization they need.
  • Undesirable Physical Traits: Sometimes physical combinations don’t produce desirable outcomes, and not all mixed breeds share the same traits.

Of course, with appropriate breeding, these issues will even out amongst designer dogs as they further develop. Some designer dogs have already been around long enough to pinpoint or resolve unique breed combinations.

Australian Shepherd
Image Credit: Jametlene Reskp, Unsplash

Recommendations for Buying

If you fall in love with a designer dog breed, you want to buy from a reputable breeder. Both parents should be registered purebred dogs with proof of it available. People can often masquerade as legitimate breeders, but not provide the right conditions or breed standards.

To avoid any issues, look for breeders with outstanding reputations and excellent litters.

Mixed Breeds

Some mixed breeds, though they cover such a large territory, have become breeds of their own. But most of the time, mixed breeds are considered mutts. However, in some countries, a certain street dog can become so mixed down that they have their own title.

In Jamaica, the Potcake Dog is technically a combination of all the street dogs mating for centuries. But they’ve taken on such specific traits, they are considered their own breed now.

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Now you know that the total number of dog breeds is a little muddy. However, there are some definite facts we can rely on. There are between 187 and 356 dog breeds in the world, and those numbers are climbing all the time. It’s such a sight to see how drastically breeds transform and how classic some of them still are today.

Featured Image Credit: Judita Kreizaite, Shutterstock

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