How many breeds of dogs are there in the world? This is a difficult question to answer because as of the moment, the dog breeds are continuously evolving and diversifying. The numbers can still increase or decrease, depending on the governing bodies collecting and classifying the numbers. Also, there are varieties of dogs that might be considered and classified as separate breeds, but these are not yet officially recognized by the various international kennel clubs and breed registration groups. However we can at least give a recent count, although we know that it will most likely be inaccurate based if based on the real-time counting.
The Fédération Cynologique Internationale or FCI (World Canine Organization) is the largest registry of dog breeds that is internationally accepted. As of 2016 the FCI recognized 343 breeds of dogs, including eleven provisional breeds, which are divided into 10 groups based upon the dog’s purpose or function or upon its appearance or size. The division into different groups is primarily done by the respective kennel clubs of different countries.
As a brief history, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) was founded on 1911 for the purpose of expediting the information exchange between kennel clubs of different countries. The FCI currently has 84 member countries, with each country having one representative kennel club. It should be noted however, that the US is not a member of this organization. The United States instead has two separate kennel clubs, the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club.
From the worldwide organization, we go the respective organizations around the world called kennel clubs. Kennel clubs are organizations that are dedicated to dog fancy. And what exactly is dog fancy? It is the hobby of appreciating, promoting, and breeding dogs. This practice originated from the Brits during the Victorian era (1837 to 1901). Most kennel clubs cover more than one breed of dog. If a club concerns itself with only one breed, it is typically called a breed club.
Kennel clubs have their respective breed registry, also called studbooks. A studbook is an official list of animals within a specific breed whose parents are known. The dogs on this list are typically referred to as purebred or pedigreed. Purebred simply means that a dog has been bred from parents of the same breed; pedigreed means that the lineage has been recorded.
Studbooks are further classified into closed and open types. Closed studbooks do not accept any outside blood. That means if your purebred dog mates with a non-purebred dog, the puppies are considered mutts. A closed studbook allows the breed to stay very pure to its type, but limits the breed’s ability to be improved. Open studbooks, on the other hand, do accept outside blood. However, dogs need to conform to strict breed standards in order to qualify for purebred status.
Kennel clubs can decide which breeds they want to recognize. Each kennel club has their own standards on what qualifies as a breed. Although dog breed qualifications are strictly regulated and standardized by kennel clubs, these “standards” can vary from one kennel club to another. Thus, there is a need for a unified and globally accepted repository for dog breeds such as the FCI
Going back to the numbers we gave earlier, the most recent count by the FCI (excluding the 11 provisional breeds) is 332. However, the dog breed count by the American Kennel Club is only 187. This disparity in numbers might be because of the strict adherence to closed studbook classification by the American Kennel Club. Nevertheless, the safest answer to the question “How many dog breeds are there in the world?” is 332, because this is the number of breed the majority of kennel clubs around the world recognize.