A Dalmatian can't change it's stripes, but what about its group?
Fri, 09/23/2022 - 8:04am

Question of the Week

If the variety groups were realigned by the American Kennel Club, would you want your breed to be considered for a group change?

David R. Miller

Sharpsburg, Georgia

The last time group realignment was brought up seriously was 2011. The Great Dane community was appalled that we were slated to be included in the Molosser group. We did not belong there then, and we do not belong there now. As a past president of the Great Dane Club of America and an AKC judge, this is something that I would vigorously object to. The issue that was also raised was to expand the groups to 10. Many shows go on into the early evening under the current system. That change will make for an even longer day.


Lisa Shery

Los Angeles, California

Thank you for asking this question. YES, Shiba Inu should be in a group where they are with other breeds that have similar form and function.


Eva and Ken Berg

Moraga, California

This subject of group realignment came to the forefront a number of years ago but was not implemented. We have been involved with Dalmatians as exhibitors, breeders and judges. The history and function of the Dalmatian was to accompany horse-drawn carriages to guard the horses and to guard the horses when in stables at night. The carriages were used to transport people, mail, etc. The Dal was used as a working guard dog, and if there is consideration for a future group alignment, we believe they should be considered part of the Working Group.

Mark Francis Jaeger

Mason, Michigan

If Brussels Griffons had to move to another group, our heritage as stable ratters (and the wire coat on our roughs) would make us a natural for the Terrier Group. (Maybe we could take the Affenpinschers with us.)

English Toy Spaniels need to stay in the Toy Group (though Henriette Schmidt did teach Karen Miller's David to water-retrieve).


Marcie Dobkin

Poway, California

We don’t need to realign the Groups. We are NOT FCI. The Non-Sporting Group would be destroyed. As AKC keeps adding “new” breeds, there needs to be a system for removing! Some VERY low-entry breeds — i.e Chinook, Norwegian Lundehund, Neo, etc. – put them back into Miscellaneous. Any “new” breeds could have a provisional time of, say, five years or so with a formula developed so if a certain quota isn’t reached for registrations, numbers shown, majors, etc., they would then go back into Miscellaneous. But the BOB winners from previously regular-status breeds in Miscellaneous should be eligible to compete in their respective group. We could also speed up the group judging if a judge has done ALL the breeds in that group that day; he or she shouldn’t have to go over each one again in the Group — redundant theater … or perhaps just go over the breeds not judged that day. 


Lori Chapek-Carleton

Lansing, Michigan

I would have no problem with Samoyeds being moved to a Northern Breeds group.


Peggy D. Jackson

Brentwood, Tennessee

No. I have Bostons and Boxers, and I would leave them alone, but think the POODLES should have their own group. I was in the Non-Sporting Group once when the Standard, Miniature, Bichon and Bulldog won. The judge made a comment that she ran out of ribbons, and the guy with the Frenchie said that maybe that’s because the Poodles got two placements.


Dick Miller

La Harpe, Illinois

My breed, the Chihuahua, belongs no other place than in the Toy Group. There should be no discussion regarding which group is most appropriate.


Sandra Bridges

Lakeside, Arizona

My breed, the Basenji, should NEVER have been classified as a Hound to begin with. Basenjis were first known as Congo Terriers, and their original structure would bear this out. 

If AKC were to realign the Groups and add a Primitive Breeds Group, THAT would be the Basenji's correct classification. The Basenji, after all, has been shown to have DNA placing its branching off from the first dog at prior to 5,000 years ago.

They originally functioned as hunter-drivers, CARRIED to the hunt by their pygmy owners, and driving the game into the nets through the dense forest undergrowth. They used both sight, jumping straight up to see above the tall grass, and scent, scenting game on the ground and through the air. The original imports came from deep in the forest, and were meant to be the foundation of a medium-sized, short-haired, attractive house dog, quiet and with no doggy odor. Unfortunately, the advent of the sport of lure coursing was very attractive to many Basenji fanciers. I watched the structure of the small, square and agile jungle dog morph into what I had feared, that of the larger, longer, coursing Sighthound.

Having begun breeding Basenjis in 1974, and continuing my keen interest and love of the breed over what has now been close to five decades, I am aware that I am in the minority of Basenji fanciers. However, the expansion to a PRIMITIVE BREEDS GROUP would REQUIRE the Basenji's inclusion in such a group.


Karen Kirby Ash

Moultonborough, New Hampshire

No, my breed, the Portuguese Water Dog, is right where it belongs in the Working Group! These hard workers can put in a full day on a fishing boat and thrive simulating the work they were bred to do. A true working water dog.


Ruth A. Marcy 


Anchorage, Alaska

I would not be in favor of a group change for the Great Pyrenees.


Deborah Mulvey

Waterbury Center, Vermont

I was a club officer when the groups went from six to seven. The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America had long discussions about where the BMD belonged.

The BMD is an all-purpose farm dog. They guard the farm, hence the old saying “A house with a BMD is never left unguarded because two eyes never sleep” — an old term for them was “four eyes,” a nod to their striking markings.vHowever, they are a draft dog as well, pulling milk from the farms to the dairy — a job the BMDCA fosters today by offering draft tests and titles.
Lastly, they are sometimes listed as herders, but many contend that they are drovers instead. The BMDCA has offered herding tests for those who wish to try their hand at that.

The BMDCA also offers a Versatility award to BMDs that earn a draft title, an AKC championship and an AKC Obedience title, a highly regarded award.

So when the AKC originally divided the Working Group, the BMDCA came to the conclusion that as an all-around working dog the Bernese Mountain Dog should stay in the Working Group. I would hope the same logic would still apply today.

I would hope that any breeds being considered for a new group alignment would think long and hard about the origin and heritage of that breed before choosing a group.

Allan Reznik

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

I have Afghan Hounds and Tibetan Spaniels.

The Hound Group is getting rather large and unwieldy, so I would have no objection to AKC splitting it into Sighthound and Scenthound groups.
I suspect Tibbies will stay where they are, even if Chows moved from Non-Sporting to a newly formed Nordic/Spitz Group, and there were other small tweaks made to Non-Sporting.

Jay Hyman

Mt. Airy, Maryland

If Hounds are split, the Ridgeback should be with Sighthounds and NOT Scenthounds.


Margaret K. Mott

Livingston Manor, New York

If AKC groups were to be realigned (and I feel they should be), I would be most happy for my breed, the Norwegian Elkhound, along with many others from various groups, to be put into a Northern Breeds group, and have been an advocate of this for many years. While many will argue the point that groups should be based on breed purpose, the fact of the matter is that many (most?) of these breeds perform multi-purpose tasks and therefore should not be lumped into a group by either their namesake or assumed job in life. Having had associations over many years with a host of American breeders and exhibitors in breeds that in many countries form the Northern Breeds group (i.e., FCI Group 5), I have often detected a feeling of “non-belonging” or being a piece of the puzzle that just doesn’t fit, and I totally get that. Having been able to witness the beauty of a complete Group 5 at group level in Europe on several occasions, I felt it was a wondrous sight, and as it should be.

Arguments have been made previously that by redistributing breeds and forming additional groups this will take up more time to complete dog shows, require additional judges, trophies, ribbons, etc. Yes, quite possibly true, but in this land of too many dog shows to start with, wouldn’t it be nice to refocus a little, put dogs where they belong and get back to the basics of judging breeding stock? Novel concept, I know… but I can dream, can’t I? 


Terry Hundt

Sandy Hook, Connecticut

Absolutely not! Dobermans are a Working breed!


Karen Rockwell 

Bedford, Ohio

If Hound is divided into Scenthounds and Sighthounds, YES. Whippets to the Sighthound Group.


Bill Stebbins

Port St. Lucie, Florida

The attempts to realign the Groups has been a topic since around 2010. One of the earlier attempts had a new Molosser Group being formed. The AKC planned to put the Great Dane into that new group. The Dane is not a Molosser breed, and that was conveyed with extreme prejudice to the AKC by the parent club. The Danes would not want to be moved from the Working Group.

I know from my personal contacts with some of my friends who have breeds that were planned to go into a new Northern Group that those breeds, despite what the AKC was saying, were also against any such move.


Iva Kimmelman 

Stow, Massachusetts 

If the AKC wants to split the Hound Group, I would be happy with a Sighthound group. This would encourage me to stay and exhibit with like kind.


Luis Sosa

Madisonville, Louisiana



Denise Milko

West Ocean City, Maryland

Absolutely! The Italian Greyhound is a true Sighthound in miniature. They are not an Italian Grey “toy,” but Greyhound. A prey-driven, very fast little hound. They look nothing like the other toys; put them in the group they morphologically resemble. Over the years, the older people wanted to stay in the Toy Group, walking around the ring, however, the IG would prefer to move out; they truly show better that way. It seems since the IG “Lily-Belle,” the blue and white bitch with handler Greg Strong, they rarely get a group placement.

Europe has it right; in fact, in most of the other countries they are in the proper group, the Sighthound Group, getting more notoriety where they can move out, showing off their racy, elegant movement. Regarding them getting lost in the Toy Group, it’s easy to see why, among all the fancy little fluffy or bow-adorned breeds. With the IG you can’t hide a flaw; it must be in good proper shape, with good movement, in a straight line, no front crossing, but covering ground efficiency. After all, they were bred to take down small prey, getting in places the big Greyhounds could not fit. We were very active, encouraging the IGCA to make the change; the vote was nearly or often split.


Sherry Mayo

Rutland, Vermont

Yes, it is my belief and that of others with Sighthounds that the group should be split between nose hounds and Sighthounds. The hounds compose one of the largest groups with the greatest diversity in size and function.


Shelley Hennessy

Toledo, Ohio

No, no, no! My breed is Chinese Cresteds. When the AKC last talked about realigning the groups, they wanted to put the Cresteds to the Non-Sporting group. They definitely are a Toy breed!


Louis Krokover

Sherman Oaks, California

In fact, this idea has been around for decades.

There should be another GROUP — the Utility Group.

This would be made up of dogs that are valuable in more than one field, and have successfully performed on two or more applications.

Such as the Beauceron, Belgian Malinois, Bouvier des Flandres, Briard, German Shepherd Dog, Pyrenean Shepherd, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Irish Wolfhound, Airedale Terrier, Anatolian Shepherd Dog, Black Russian Terrier, Giant Schnauzer, Rottweiler, Chow Chow and Standard Poodle.


Margaretta ("Missy") Wood

Phoenixville, Pennsylvania

No, I'm fine in the Terrier Group, but how on earth did the American Hairless get into the Terrier Group?


Lydia Hutchinson

Middletown, Maryland

Absolutely not! We Cairn breeders subscribe to the belief that dogs very similar to Cairns were the progenitors of most, if not all, of the short-legged breeds of Terriers. They are Terriers through and through.

Wyoma Clouss

Meridian, Idaho

NO! Last time realignment was brought up, I was the American Miniature Schnauzer Club president. So I remember that with zero contact, zero warning, the Miniature Schnauzer was the only breed to be taken from the Terrier Group, and offered Non-Sporting this time. The only answer we could imagine was that our German breed developers thoughtlessly failed to use the English designation of Terrier in naming the breed. (Eyeroll.) Their dog, known as wirehaired German Pinscher, Rattler or Ratcatcher became known as “Schnauzer” after an early show winner in 1880.  

AMSC members discussed the issue and then voted overwhelmingly to remain in the Terrier Group. Our breed standard begins: “The Miniature Schnauzer is a robust, active dog of terrier type.” This has served us well to describe our delightful breed that remembers its history as a house and barn size ratter and family companion.  Our dogs and their people enjoy conformation, obedience, rally, agility, barn hunt, scent work, therapy dog, Fast Cat, and earth dog (though they’ve been known to espy the tunnel exit and head straight for the prize!). And Miniature Schnauzers are the best, smartest, most affectionate family companions ever — just ask me, I’ll tell you!



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