The 200 breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club are separated into seven groups—but we added a bonus one.
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miniature Schnauzer on leash with woman
Credit: Brie Passano Goldman

With so many types of dogs—small ones, big ones, hairy ones, hairless ones, black ones, white ones, lazy ones, active ones—there are plenty of ways to sort through more than 200 breeds. 

But when it comes to separating them for dog shows, the American Kennel Club has us covered. The registry sorts the 200 breeds it recognizes into seven groups: Herding, Hound, Non-Sporting, Sporting, Terrier, Toy, and Working. 

Then there are the hybrid dog breeds, the pups who are mixes of two or more breeds. Because they aren't purebred, you won't see them at conformation dog shows—though of course we still love our Labradoodles and Cavapoos.

Here's what you need to know about each group if you want to be prepared for when the National Dog Show is back on TV. 

Herding Group

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Pretty self-explanatory here. These 32 dog breeds were originally bred to herd livestock like sheep, and many of these dogs still do that job. Others, meanwhile, settle for herding their humans around the yard. 

Generally, these are high-energy dogs who love having a job to do or a puzzle to solve. The athletic, smart pups often excel in canine competitions like agility or dock diving. Other breeds from this group serve as K-9 officers, search-and-rescue dogs, or detection dogs

Here are the most popular herding breeds (according to the AKC): 

Hound Group

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Awooooo! Welcome to a group full of floppy ears and powerful noses. Many of these dogs are eager hunting companions, though they'll certainly love spending time in the house with you. 

Most of these breeds make excellent trackers as well, whether it's for game or people who've gone missing. Some of the bigger breeds were bred to hunt large animals, yet this group also sports some of the fastest dogs in the world

Behold, the most popular hounds from the group of 32: 

Non-Sporting Group

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This group is basically the Hufflepuff of the dog show world, taking "all the rest" of the dogs who don't match the specific characteristics the other groups require.

That's why the Non-Sporting Group is such an eclectic mix of 21 breeds. They come in all sizes, shapes, and spots, but they each make excellent pets. 

Here are the most popular breeds of this group: 

Sporting Group

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Here's a collection of more active dog breeds, some of the AKC's most-loved retrievers, setters, and spaniels. They're just as eager to spend time at home playing with you as they are hunting.

These dogs also sport some of the longest, prettiest coats in the dog world—perfect for the pups who love swimming or retrieving fowl from the water.

Here are America's favorites from the group of 33: 

Terrier Group

miniature Schnauzer on leash with woman
Credit: Brie Passano Goldman

Again, pretty self-explanatory. These are all terriers of some kind, a group of mostly small 31 breeds who are pretty spirited.

They were originally bred to hunt and kill vermin—and they were quite good at it. That energy and determination is why any terrier owner needs to make sure their dog always has something to do.  

Here are the five most popular terriers: 

Toy Group

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The little ones! The lap dogs, perfect for people who don't have a big yard (or any yard at all). What they lack in size they make up for in entertainment value—just make sure your apartment neighbors don't mind the occasional yapping. 

Many of these pups will also run a higher grooming bill than some, so be sure to consider that before you bring one of these 23 small breeds home. 

Here are the most popular Toy Group breeds: 

Working Group

Alaskan Malamute running in snow
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And now it's Big Boi Season. This collection of mostly large dogs was bred to hunt large game, protect livestock, and pull sleds or wagons. (No, you do not get to ride them as if they're horses.) 

You do need enough space to own one of these furry giants, not to mention enough strength if they pull on their leashes. While they're loving family members, they might not know their own strength around little humans. 

Here are the most popular of the 31 working dogs: 

Hybrids, Mixes, and Mutts

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Sadly, not all of our favorite dogs are going to make the dog show stage reserved for purebred canines. But that doesn't keep you from taking home a mutt from the shelter or an allergy-friendly hybrid from a responsible breeder. You'll love them as much as any other dog. 

Here are some of our favorites: