Breed type (dog)

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Breed type in the parlance of dog fanciers refers to the qualities that define a dog breed and separate it from all other dog breeds. Breed type is outlined in the written standard for each breed, and breed type is the basis of judging in conformation dog shows.

Part of breed type is an ideal of appearance

Qualities that define a breed[edit]

Breed type encompasses appearance, character, condition, bone structure, temperament, and movement; "breed type is all these things."[1] Breed type also includes a character specific to each breed, a combination of behaviour, temperament and carriage that demonstrate an essence of the breed.[2] "He exuded breed type," writes Anne Marie Rasmussen of a particular King Charles Spaniel.[3] An Akbash Dog "with correct breed type [is] confident, protective, intelligent, brave, affectionate yet reserved, and always loyal."[4] The exact definition of breed type for any given breed can be very subjective and elusive.

The Standard[edit]

For the most part, the ideal breed type is defined in the breed standard, a written list of attributes that defines the breed and separates the breed from other breeds based on the same ancestral type. The standard leaves room for interpretation; breeders may choose to select for emphasis some aspects of breed type over others, and, if conformation judges agree with that selection, the breed will change over time.[5]

Each element of the standard is considered both independently and part of the whole of breed type. In writing about the Borzoi, Jon Titus Steel says, "The neck is a key element of breed type", affecting a dog's outline, balance, movement, and function.[6]


In conformation judging, judges compare the dog to the ideal breed type represented in the standard.[7] Since breed standards leave room for interpretation, conformation show judging is highly subjective, and individual judges will place more or less emphasis on the various elements of breed type. In addition, all-breed judges may not be knowledgeable about all of the details of each breed's breed type. The director of the Bedlington Terrier Club of America writes of the Bedlington Terrier's standard for gait that "all too often, judges either ignore [the standard's] description or completely lack knowledge of it."[8]

Even judging that adheres strictly to the standard tends to reward the most outgoing and energetic (showy) dog. In order to win, showing "must be fun for the dog."[9] But for some breeds, excessive showiness is in opposition to the breed type and should not be rewarded. The American Kennel Club English Mastiff standard cautions, "Judges should also beware of putting a premium on showiness."[10]

Breed type and performance[edit]

Breed type usually takes into account the work the original dog type from which the breed was developed was bred to do. In order to counterbalance the overuse of appearance in awarding championships, some major registries and breed clubs have instituted performance events as part of the awards at conformation shows.[11]

Types, type, and breeds[edit]

Dog type, breed type, dog breed, and purebred dog breed are at times all used interchangeably, but they all have distinct meanings. Types of dogs are varieties developed for a specific work; they may be very ancient or modern in origin. Modern breeds of dogs are refinements of older dog types, bred so that all closely resemble each other, and documented in a stud book kept by a breed club or major dog registry. A purebred dog is a dog of a documented modern dog breed that has been selectively bred to emphasize breed type for the sport of competitive conformation dog showing.

The word type may be incorrectly used instead of style to refer to an identifiable 'style of appearance' or 'working style characteristic' of a particular kennel or "dogs of a well established line" This terminology is incorrect. The word type in reference to a dog refers specifically to the description of what defines that breed and what makes that breed of dog different from every other breed, as can be found in that breed's written Standard. When comparing dogs of the same breed, you look at type first and foremost, and then you look for different styles of dogs within that breed. The term style refers to characteristics that are different in each dog that already has breed type. There can be a vast variety of styles existing in each breed of dog. These characteristics develop from a breeder's desire to create a distinct 'look' (or style) within their line. Breeders create their own style within their line, being careful not to stray from breed type.

See also: Health Problems[edit]

Health problems of dog breeds and objections to dog showing have been covered extensively in the following articles: Purebred dogs | Genetic disease | Criticism of dog showing | Dog | Dog breeding | List of dog diseases | Canine reproduction | Inbreeding | Founder effect. Also see articles about individual breeds for more on health issues of individual breeds.


  1. ^ Rose, Sue, Breed Type (judging seminar notes), English Cocker Spaniel Club of America, archived from the original on 31 January 2008, retrieved 14 May 2008
  2. ^ Beauchamp, Richard (2008), Solving the Mysteries of Breed Type (2nd ed.), Doral Publishing, ISBN 978-1-59378-663-2
  3. ^ Rasmussen, Anne Marie, Understanding Line Breeding,, 'The number one site for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed in the UK', retrieved 2008-05-14
  4. ^ Nelson, Judith (March 1993), Akbash Dogs: A Breed Apart, Dog Fancy Magazine, pp. 40–41, archived from the original on 1 May 2008, retrieved 2008-05-14
  5. ^ Caras, Roger A. (2001), Going for the Blue, Inside the World of Show dogs and Dog Shows, New York: Warner Books, Inc., p. 13, ISBN 0-446-52644-4
  6. ^ Steele, Jon Titus (May 2008), "The Neck - Element of Function and Grace", American Kennel Club Gazette, New York: American Kennel Club, p. 55
  7. ^ Grossman, Dr. Alvin (1998), Understanding How Dog Shows Work, Doral Publishing, Inc. Online Catalog, retrieved 2008-05-14
  8. ^ Friesen, Laurie (May 2008), "Unique Bedlington Movement", American Kennel Club Gazette, New York: American Kennel Club, p. 67
  9. ^ Alston, George G. (1992), The Winning Edge, New York, Toronto: Howell Book House, p. 59, ISBN 0-87605-834-9
  10. ^ American Kennel Club Mastiff standard (Retrieved on 14 May 2008)
  11. ^ The United Kennel Club (US) has a Total Dog Award for dogs that win both conformation and a performance event on the same day. See the United Kennel Club Dog Events Rules Archived 8 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved on 14 May 2008