dog breed groups in UK

Getting a dog isn’t exactly easy as you’ve expected.

Surely, you probably thought getting a dog goes something like this:

  • You go to a breeder or shelter
  • You point to a dog that you think is interesting
  • You sign the paper works
  • And you take the dog home

But the truth is, there’s a lot to consider during the dog-owning process, such as your dog’s breed.

In fact, there are 221 recognized Kennel Club breeds in the UK that are grouped into seven dog breed group categories.

With that many breeds in mind, can you properly pick a dog breed that’s right for you?

That’s why in this blog, we’ll be talking about the seven dog breed groups in UK.

Each group has its distinct traits, size, temperament, and functions that are worth learning and considering.

At the end of each dog breed group, I’ll also be sharing my personal dog breed recommendations so that you can have a lead on what dog you’re looking for.

dog breed groups

Dog Breed Groups in UK

Kennel Club recognizes seven dog breed groups in the UK.

These dog breed groups are:


  1. Hound dogs
  2. Gun dogs
  3. Pastoral dogs
  4. Terrier dogs
  5. Toy dogs
  6. Working dogs
  7. Utility dogs

These dog breeds were grouped according to their size, appearance, instincts, and functions.


Hound Dog Breed Group

Did you notice something in action movies that involves tracking people?

Chances are, whether it’s an enemy tracking our hero in a deep jungle or sniffing belongings, there are always dogs involved.

And that’s not a Hollywood coincidence!

When we talk about dogs having a strong sense of smell, we usually refer to the hound dog breed group.

The Hound group is one of the dog breed groups in UK that have exceptional senses and heightened predator instincts.

Because of their nature as predators, these dogs fit perfectly for any hunting tasks.

Most hound dogs have high stamina and endurance at their disposal.

That being said, there are also hound dogs that don’t prefer an active lifestyle. More of these distinctions later.

At home, hound dogs are great companion dogs for hunters.

They can be extremely affectionate and cuddly to their owners at the end of a hard day’s work.

Now, if you plan to get a dog from the hound dog breed, you should expect the following traits from the group:

  • Affectionate
  • Vigilant
  • Intelligent
  • Independent

You should also take note that the hound dog breed group has two sub-groups: sight hounds and scent hounds.

These two subgroups don’t differ much aside from how they approach their hunting duties.

Sight Hounds

Fast, strong, and larger.

Sighthound is a type of hound dog that relies on what they see rather than what they smell.

When these dogs see their prey, they’ll chase them until they’re able to pin their target down.

Because of how these hounds hunt, they have longer stamina endurance that pairs well with their chasing speed.

Sighthounds are also larger than scent hounds.

Their larger bodies help them pin down small animals better or tackle preys that are larger than them.

Scent Hounds

Cunning and persevering.

Scent hounds are dogs that use their scent senses when they hunt their prey.

They may be smaller than sighthounds, but they have a better sense of smell than them.

Scent hounds do not expend energy as vigorously as sighthounds.

Because scent hounds are small, they use their smelling talents to persistently track their prey instead of brawling with their prey.

Common Hound Dog Breeds in UK

Haven’t settled for a hound dog breed yet?

We got you covered!

Here are some of the common hound breeds that the UK Kennel Club recognizes:

Personally, we would choose a Basset Hound breed because they rely on their scents rather than chasing speed.

They’re adaptable to their environment and have no problem living in an apartment setup.

But, if an active lifestyle is your choice, you can also pick a Beagle because they are energetic creatures with a great sense of smell.

But even without taking them to hunt games, they are extremely affectionate breeds with a need for companionship as well.

Lastly, if you want to take on larger games like deer, bears, and elks, we highly recommend getting a Rhodesian Ridgeback.

They’re fast, large, muscular, and brave—perfect to go up against a larger prey.

best hunting dogs golden retriever

Gun Dog Breed Group

Still looking for more hunting dogs?

You can consider getting a dog from the gun dog breed group instead!

The gun dog group is one of the dog breed groups in UK that is similar to hound dogs.

They're also gifted with strong senses and a primal instinct to prey.

Both of these features are extremely important as the dogs use them to search for prey and navigate through the forest.

Gun dogs are also intelligent dog breed groups.

Hunters typically teach these dogs with whistles, hand gestures, and even grunts as a way to communicate commands to their dogs.

On top of that, gun dogs are social creatures!

When they’re at their rest, gun dogs would often seek and ask their masters for affection.

If that happens, you can play with the dog outside to also get the exercise that they need.

Gun dogs have the following traits that you need to know:

  • Cooperative
  • Intelligent
  • Easy to Please
  • Affectionate
  • Good for Children

Gun Dogs vs Hound Dogs

Now I know what you’re thinking:

“Gun dogs are very similar to hound dogs.

Both dog breed groups are used for hunting and have great senses and a predator drive in them.

Can’t just Kennel Club categorize them in one group instead?”

Well, these two dog breed groups may seem awfully similar, but both still differ from each other.

The main difference between these dog groups lies in the type of prey they hunt.

Hound dogs hunt for a wide variety of prey, but they prey mostly on land animals.

Gun dogs, on the other hand, were originally bred to become skillful at hunting birds.

Unlike land prey, feathered games can fly, which adds another layer of difficulty in hunting.

Simply chasing these to their capture isn’t possible.

To add to that, your dog should be able to swim if you want to catch waterfowl like swans, ducks, and geese.

With all the roles needed to catch flying prey, you can further divide the gun dog category into four subgroups!

These subgroups are based on the typical roles that the dog breed will perform during hunting.


As the name suggests, retriever dogs collect and retrieve the feathered game back to their masters.

You often train retrievers to soft mouth the game to not damage and puncture the prey with its teeth.


The Pointer group is a subgroup of the gun dogs that are dedicated to finding games and pointing the game’s location to the owner.

Pointers were named like that because dogs would instinctively use their muzzle to tell the owners of the location.

But for pointers to be efficient at their task, these dog breeds should be alert at all times for the game’s sounds and visible movements.


Another subgroup of the gun dogs is Setter. A setter dog functions like a pointer because they also locate games and alert its owners of their finds.

Instead of using “pointing” gestures, setters freeze on the spot and crouch.

A setting dog alerts the hunter that a game is nearby and should ready its gun.


Spaniels are gun dogs that “flush the game” or force the birds out of covers.

They’re also incredibly important in helping the hunters line their gun barrels toward their targets.

Common Gun Dog Breeds in the UK

Are you finally inspired to get a gun dog for yourself?

I can help you with that!

Here are some of the common gun dog breeds that the UK Kennel Club recognizes:

When picking dog breeds from the gun dog breeds, you can pick the two most popular dogs, Labrador and Golden Retriever.

These dog breeds are extremely affectionate to their owners.

They’re also the types of dogs that can be playmates with children.

For a more hunting-related purpose, I recommend going with a Verizsla, a robust and obedient dog.

Their athleticism can prove to be useful when hunting feathered games and waterfowl.


Pastoral Dog Breed Group

Ever noticed that a lot of shepherds and livestock owners own a dog companion?

You would see their fidos casually following them out on the farm or pasture lands.

Have you wondered about the dog’s role in the field?

Well, that dog is definitely not just for show.

In fact, that dog is crowd-controlling the flock of sheep, just like how its master does it.

And that is one of the functions of pastoral dogs.

Pastoral dogs are one of the major dog breed groups in UK bred to work on farms and manage livestock.

Most pastoral dogs are loud barkers because their tasks require them to actively bark.

If these dogs have small voices, they couldn’t possibly complete their pastoral duties.

Their commanding barks would instead become wavering whispers across a large area of grass.

How can they herd the cattle, if that’s the case?

Pastoral dogs are also intelligent creatures.

Easy to train, this dog breed group loves to learn new things as it's their way to stimulate themselves.

Now, when it comes to owning pastoral dogs, you should expect these traits to show up in your dog:

  • People-pleaser
  • Outgoing
  • Energetic
  • Protective
  • Loud
  • Loyal
  • Hardworking

Like gun dogs, pastoral dogs also have subgroups based on their functions in the field.

Let’s get to know more about these pastoral subgroups below.

Herding Dogs

The Herding group is the subgroup that you’ll mostly associate the pastoral dog breeds with.

Their duties involve rallying the flock of livestock and making sure that there's no livestock lost.


Drover dogs are responsible for guiding and directing the flock toward a destination.

In the past, drover dogs helped their masters guide the flock’s direction from one marketplace to another.

Guardian Dogs

As the name implies, guardian dogs protect the flock against wild predators like wolves, foxes, and coyotes.

They’re also great sentry dogs because they stay alert and anticipate any threat in the field.

Common Pastoral Dog Breeds in UK

If you are considering a pastoral dog, UK Kennel Club recognizes these breeds in the dog group:

Among the large list of pastoral dogs, my best pick would be the Old English Sheepdog.

Old English Sheepdogs have prized fur coats that set them apart from other herding dogs.

They’re also social creatures, which makes them great as companion dogs in the family.

If you want a lap dog, however, you can also choose a Welsh Corgi dog.

They’re relatively small and low maintenance than Old English Sheepdogs but can still perform herding duties as expected.

Lastly, a Belgian Malinois Shepherd would also be a great addition to your field.

Belgian Malinois are guard dogs that can ward off wild predators in the area.

Do take note, however, that they’re extremely dominant and independent.

Jack russell terrier playing during Springtime

Terrier Dog Breed Group

Looking for an energetic companion dog?

Want a dog with a strong personality but without the size of a hunting dog?

Then you might be looking for one of the dog breeds in Terrier groups!

The Terrier dog group is one of the dog breed groups in UK that has good preying instinct.

They are also prone to chasing objects that stimulate them.

Originally bred as a poor man’s solution to the vermin population, Terrier dogs are expert pest controllers on farms.

If you plan to get a dog breed from a Terrier breed group, you should expect these traits to show up in your dog:

  • Intelligent
  • Energetic
  • Loyal
  • Playful

Common Terrier Dog Breeds in UK

Do you prefer terrier dogs?

In that case, here are some dog breeds that fit in the Terrier dog breed group of the UK Kennel Club:

  • Airedale Terrier
  • Bull Terrier
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Norfolk Terrier
  • Welsh Terrier
  • Border Terrier
  • Scottish Terrier
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Wire Fox Terrier
  • Irish Terrier
  • Manchester Terrier

Most terrier breeds under UKC’s groups are extremely active dogs that prefer the outside environment.

So if exercising is more of a task than enjoyment for you, then you may want to consider other dog breeds instead.

But if we were to own a Terrier breed, we would personally pick a Border Terrier.

Border Terriers can maintain composure and control impulses better than most terrier breeds.

More than that, they can fit your apartment lifestyle better than any Terrier dog.

Of course, there are popular terrier dogs like Airedale Terrier, Bull Terrier, and Jack Russell Terrier for more active owners.


Toy Dog Breed Group

Do you live in apartment units?

Then maybe a toy dog breed is suitable for your lifestyle!

Toy dog group is one of the dog breed groups in UK known specifically for their small size.

They’re sometimes called lap dogs because these dogs can sit comfortably on your lap.

Yes, they’re that small!

Because of their size, toy dog breeds are not suited to work outside.

They also don’t require a lot of outdoor exposure, so they can easily adapt to an apartment lifestyle.

That said, give the dog the minimum daily exercise to keep the dog in shape.

Toy dogs are generally happy to please their owners.

But there are some instances where they can be agitated.

Since these dogs are small, they usually get timid and anxious around new faces and big creatures.

Now, if you plan to own a toy dog yourself, here are some traits that you can expect from them:

  • Attention-seeker
  • Affectionate
  • Sensitive
  • Timid
  • Easy to Please

Common Toy Dog Breeds in UK

Are you considering getting a toy dog breed?

Well then, here are some dog breeds that the UKC recognized to belong in the toy dog group.

A lot of the dog breeds in the list are great choices to be your next companion dog.

Personally, however, we would pick a pug because they’re low maintenance, starting from their diet, grooming, and exercise.

But that’s not an excuse to neglect them!

They would still need the proper care and attention that a dog owner is expected to provide for his dogs.

Aside from that, Pugs also have a calm temperament.

This means that compared to a Chihuahua or Maltese, there’s less tendency for pugs to be yappy.

police k-9s

Working Dog Breed Group

One of the dog breed groups in UK that we want you to meet is the working dogs.

Working dogs were bred to do general work in the fields, such as pulling carts, sleds, or even rescues.

Nowadays, you can see working dogs carrying out more jobs than just pulling objects.

For instance, a lot of working dog breeds are working alongside the police force as K-9 units.

They’re also important in search and rescue operations because they have an excellent sense of smell.

Working dogs are loving creatures too!

That’s why working dogs are finding themselves in the roles of disability assistant, nanny, and therapist.

When owning working dog breeds, take note of these traits that they may exhibit:

  • Confident
  • Intelligent
  • Hardworking
  • Compassionate
  • Loyal

Working Dogs vs Pastoral Dogs

Since working dogs and pastoral dogs are very similar, you may easily confuse one for the other.

Don’t worry! You’re not alone, as a lot of starting dog owners will interchange them for another.

But what’s the main difference between the two dog groups?

Simply put, pastoral dogs have a better herding instinct than working dogs.

This means that pastoral dogs have better instincts to dominate, manage, and group flocks of animals.

Working dogs, on the other hand, are breed groups that are suited for all-around work.

They also have stronger and larger muscles to help them do their work.

Common Working Dog Breeds in UK

In need of a trusty working dog breed?

Here are some dog breeds that you can pick from Kennel Club UK’s working dog breeds.

Now, you should take note that a lot of these working dogs are training-dependent before they can work.

And if you’re a first-time dog owner, it’ll be difficult to make them obedient to your commands.

At most, you should stick to dogs with calmer temperaments that are great as companion dogs first.

This includes dog breeds like St. Bernard, Great Dane, and Newfoundland.

#13: Shiba Inu

Utility Dog Breed

Now, we’ve come to the last dog breed group in the UK—the utility dogs.

Utility dogs are dog breeds that don’t entirely fit into any breed group, as they come in various sizes, instincts, and appearances.

These dogs were originally bred to do specific tasks, but as times changed, their work became obsolete.

Today, they’re being valued for being great companions in the house instead.

They’re also a jack of all trades for most work, making them versatile and adaptable.

If you are considering getting a utility dog breed, you should expect these traits to show in these dog breed groups:

  • Enthusiastic
  • Playful
  • Friendly
  • Affectionate

Common Utility Dog Breeds in the UK

If you are looking for a utility dog breed, here are the breeds that fit in Kennel Club’s official utility dog breed group:

Most utility dogs are adaptable breeds that are great to have as family members.

What you should look out for is their temperament instead.

In this case, we would recommend smaller dogs like Shih Tzu or French Bulldog.

Do take note, however, that Shih Tzus and French Bulldogs are high-maintenance dog breeds.

Dog Breed Groups in the UK: Final Takeaways

When it comes to owning a dog, choosing the right dog breed for you is important.

Your lifestyle and preference should match the traits of the dog breed before you place your final decision.

Without considering compatibility, you and your dog may have opposing traits and lifestyles that may cause problems in the future.

The last thing that you want to happen is to return the dog to its breeder or shelter.

That’s why we recommend that you browse down this list to make sure that you have a grasp of the traits that you’re looking for in a dog.

But wait!

You may have seen the 7 dog breed groups in UK.

But are you curious to check how Australia groups its dog breeds?

Then you may want to check out these other dog breed groups below!