Australian Cattle Dog
North American Dog Groups 101 - Working Dogs and Terriers
There are many different breeds of dogs. The variety of dogs is astounding. In order to ensure there is order within the overall system, kennel clubs organize the breeds into different groupings. This is for simplification and for competitions. Each national kennel club may have its own division of dog group breeds. In fact, different countries may and do have their own set grouping. Providing a specific standard for international competitions is the international organization, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI). This facilitates matters for all member countries. Interesting enough, the oldest Kennel Club, the United Kingdom Kennel Club, is not a member of this larger governing group.
This article will consider the division of dog breeds in North America. In both Canada and the United States, dog breeds are placed within an 8-group system. The 3rd and 4th groups are Working Dogs and Terriers.
A Cattle Dog is a working dog has been bred and trained to gather, herd and drive livestock. Different breeds of Cattle Dogs work cattle in different ways. Some breeds, such as the Australian Cattle Dog, typically nip at the animals heels, therefore they are "heelers". Others like the Border Collie, get in front of the animals and use what is called "eye" to stare down the animals, these are the "headers". The Koolie has been observed to use both these methods and to jump on the backs of their charges. Koolies are therefore said to 'head', 'heel' and 'back'.
Working Dogs are dogs that have or continue to earn their keep in the world. This group contains many protection breeds. It is also home to breeds that have pulled sleds or hauled loads long distances. These dogs have a job to do and enjoy doing it. Their size may range from the Standard Schnauzer to the Great Dane.
While these dogs are hard workers, they are also energy efficient. Members of the Working Dog Group include the protective Doberman Pinscher, the water loving Portuguese Water Dog, the sleigh pulling Alaskan Malamute and the loveable, lumbering Newfoundland. Other recognizable members of the Working Dog Group are the Akita, Boxer, Rottweiler, Saint Bernard and Samoyd.
Terriers are feisty. Most began their lives as rat hustlers and harriers. They were bred to deal with vermin. Terriers caught and killed rats. They went down holes and into narrow crevices after their prey. They showed and continue to show courage and moxy.
Terriers are wiry, and I am not just referring to their coat, determined and, let us be frank, stubborn. Terriers are also active. They are little balls of energy looking for and into anything. Most are quick learners, although they may require a little or a lot of motivation.
Do doubt about it. Terriers need stimulation. They require activity and play. These dogs are not a good match for sedentary people. They are also the bane of many an avid gardener. Most terriers love to dig and dig and dig.
There are taller terriers and smaller terriers. You have the tiny Norwich Terrier and the small Norfolk Terrier. On the other hand, you do have the medium size Airedale Terrier. Most have a characteristic wiry hair. This requires special brushing and tending. You need to recognize the specific grooming needs of this breed.
There are famous terriers in history. These include Grey Friars Bobby. Members include the Soft Coated Wheaten, the Wire Fox Terrier and the Smooth Fox Terrier. Also terriers are the Border Terrier, the Bull Terrier, the Miniature Bull Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. This is not to neglect the Sky Terrier, the Miniature Schnauzer, the Cairn Terrier, the Kerry Blue Terrier and others.
Always keep in mind the nature of the dog. It must be a match to your personality if the meeting and keeping is to be successful. If you are a couch potato, do not get a terrier. If you want a dog to be part of your life and work, do get a working dog or a terrier.