Before the first dog show in Britain in the mid-19th century, there were hundreds of sizes, shapes and colours of dogs within a single breed.
Conflicting opinion on how a particular type of dog should look led to the establishment of canine societies and kennel clubs which set out to fix an official ‘standard’ or ideal by which a dog might be classified.
￼FUNCTIONS OF THE BRITISH KENNEL CLUB
- To promote in every way the general improvement of dogs
- To license and control dog shows. Held trials, working trials and obedience trials.
- To classify breeds.
- To register and license breed clubs, canine societies and dog-training societies.
- To register pedigree dogs.
- To oversee transfer of ownership.
- To devise and enforce Kennel Club rules.
- To present awards.
The Kennel Club, founded in 1873, took charge of amalgamating all the standards set by individual breed societies throughout the country. The attempt to weed out undesirable characteristics in a given breed resulted in a lengthy description for each type of dog with the emphasis on appearance rather than working ability.
Originally, all dogs were shown together, but the Kennel Club soon set out to link dogs of similar purpose broadly within individual groups, resulting initially in just two categories: sporting and non-sporting.
After this, a further subdivision occurred within the sporting group and it was divided into three groups: Gundogs, Hounds and Terriers. Non-sporting dogs needed further classification also, but this was a slightly more difficult task.
Eventually, Toy Dogs were separated out, followed by Working Dogs, and the miscellaneous breeds which remained were labelled Utility Dogs.
The Kennel Club in Britain today has breed standards for six main groups: The Hound Group, Gundog Group, Terrier Group, Utility Group, Working Group and Toy Group.
In America, however, Gundogs are still known as ‘Sporting Dogs’ and Utility Dogs as ‘Non-sporting Dogs’