The Kennel Club's Illustrated Breed Standards: The Official Guide to Registered Breeds

ken club breed

 Click on the cover above to go to this book at

This is the official bible of dog breeds from the Kennel Club. Their categories of breeds: Hound, Gundog, Terrier, Utility, Working and Toy, are explained, and there's something on the history of each breed, which gives the Kennel Club explanation of why the breeds have the characteristics they do. It's useful for people who want to show dogs in the UK, as well as for groomers who prepare dogs for show, or have customers who want their dogs to look like show dogs. This is not a good guide to finding 'the right dog for you'. Not all breeds are recognised by the Kennel Club, and the emphasis is on show dogs, bred to look a certain way, rather than working or pet dogs, where working ability and temperament are important. In some breeds, such as labradors and border collies, the differences between show and working lines are so great, you could describe them as different 'breeds'.

The Kennel Club has had to answer criticisms about health issues arising from breeding for extreme shapes, for example very squashed in noses, which can lead to dogs being unable to breathe properly. Sometimes dogs bred simply to be pets can be healthier than those bred to be show dogs, if the show dogs have more exaggerated features. Inbreeding can also lead to problems. When breeds have a small gene pool, and major health problems are common, outcrossing can help to revive a breed.  If you're interested in these issues, it's worth comparing what the UK Kennel Club is doing to improve the health of breeds with what's happening in Europe, especially the policies of Scandinavian and German kennel clubs.

So, this is an interesting book for people who want to know about dog show culture, but it only tells you part of the story if you want a broader picture of dog breeds.