Australian Cattle Dog
North American Dog Groups - Herding Dogs & the Miscellaneous Group
When you go to buy a dog, you can research and seek a specific breed. There are literally hundreds of different breeds out there. These formal classification do not include the so-called Designer Dogs or the delightful mixtures called Mutts, Mongrels or Mixed Breeds. The ones designated by the Kennel Clubs and similar organizations, restrict themselves to the specific purebred breeds.
Each country has its organizations that control and monitor the specifications of a breed. They also organize various competitions. While mutts are able to enter many Performance-type events, the major competitions are restricted to purebred animals. While different Kennel Clubs around the world have their own system of organizing breeds into competitive groups, there is an international organization to make the system work worldwide.
The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) is the group in charge. It is responsible for the harmonization of its 84 or so member countries. With one exception, United Kingdom’s Kennel Club, the FCI has prestigious Kennel club members in every country. This article does not pretend to look at all the various Kennel club groupings. It focuses on the form found in North America. Both Canada and the United States have the same system of categorizing dog breeds into groups. Below I will discuss the last two groups in the system: the Herding Group and the Miscellaneous Groups, 7th and 8th in this system.
The Herding Dogs Group is aptly named. These animals herd, round up and watch over all types of livestock. If there are no four-footed animals around, herding dogs will even round up the children. They live to restore order. They need to work. In fact, some countries include herding dogs under the aegis of working dogs. The AKC only created this group in 1983. In some categories, the Herding dogs are listed under the term Pastoral Group.
Members of this group are lively. They are agile. They are often independent thinkers, able to puzzle out solutions. At the same time, herding dogs are quick to obey orders. They respond instantly to commands.
Herding Dogs are intelligent beings. They like to please their owners. They also require action. A busy herding dog is a happy one. You need to keep these dogs occupied. They will herd anyone.
Herding dogs are wonderful companion animals. They are, in general, easy to train. They respond well to a variety of training methods. Members include the intelligent German Shepherd and the sometime hyper active Border Collie. The “Lassie” Collie is a long-standing member as are the Bouvier de Flandres and the Puli. Also members are the Australian Cattle Dog and the Pembroke Welsh Corgis.
The Miscellaneous Group is a place for dogs awaiting final recognition and acceptance. It is a changing list. It contains various as-yet-unclassified breeds. You may find in this grouping or class, toys and giants. There are terriers, hounds and representatives of other breeds.
The Miscellaneous Dogs are not new breeds. Some have been around for a long time. This is the equivalent of the final hurdle to complete breed recognition. It is a test of breeding lines. The admittance of a breed also indicates there is an interest and consistent high quality breeding programs. For some breeders entry to the Miscellaneous Group is like Purgatory. For optimists, it is the stage before the gates of heaven open.
The North American system of grouping breeds is not adopted around the world. Yet, there are similarities between it and the kennel clubs in other countries. In the end, the divisions are less important than the breeds of dog themselves. Categorizing the dogs into larger groups simply makes it simpler to identify specific common traits within a larger context. However, you should always realize that a dog is never just a dog. Each one has their own individual nature. Realize this and your choice will truly be a good and life long match.