Introducing the AKC Sporting Group

Some of the most well beloved dog breeds are included in the Sporting Group of the AKC, including Cocker Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers. These dogs typically prefer to enjoy a high activity level and have an alert, but likable and balanced disposition. These were bred for a variety different hunting activities, and because of this, they enjoy the outdoors, including spending time in water. Some are especially strong swimmers. All of them require considerable exercise to maintain their physical and mental health; however, some are much more energetic than others. Owners must be prepared to provide regular exercise, preferably outdoors, for the lifetime of their sporting dog.


These dogs had a specific duty in the field – to identify the location of game, but not to chase or flush. They would indicate the location by pointing with their muzzle, using also raising a fore-paw and straightening their tail. This allowed hunters to move into gun range with startling their prey. They using have short or wire (rough and curly) coats that require little grooming.

Pointers include the German Shorthaired Pointer, German Wirehaired Pointer, Pointer, Spinone Italiano, Vizsla, Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, and Wirehaired Vizsla.

Other Sporting Group dogs also have a natural pointing ability to go with their more all-around hunting skill set; however, pointers have mastered to the behavior at a much higher level.


Known for their soft mouths, retrievers have been bred and trained to bring kills back to a hunter unspoiled. Many of them love the water and have somewhat webbed feet. All of them retrieve game or objects with gusto. They merely need good direct and the stead application of discipline to ensure that they become excellent companions. Some retrieving breeds are heavy shedders, but most require only moderate grooming.

Retrievers include the Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Curly-Coated Retriever, Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever, and the Weimaraner.

While many dog in the AKC Sporting Group can retrieve, the quality of a soft mouth and people-pleasing disposition make many retrievers perfect family dogs too.


In the field, setters would search for prey, usually birds, and assume a specific position (setting) when their work is accomplished, instead of giving chase as hounds typically do. Some setters have good overall hunting skills as well, including the ability to retrieve. Many have beautifully colored, flowing coats that require more than the average amount of maintenance.

Setter breeds include the English Setter, Gordon Setter, Irish Red and White Setter, and Irish Setter.

Many setters are now more popular in the show-ring than in the field, although only one setter has won the Westminster Dog Show – an English Setter in 1938.


These make up the largest number of dogs with the category and are considered by many the most versatile. Spaniels listed in this group come in a variety of sizes with the Clumber Spaniel generally considered the largest at about 70 lbs. and the Cocker Spaniel (American) the smallest of the sporting spaniels. In the field, they are capable of a wide variety of behaviors, including those listed above plus flushing out game. The different breeds tend to be more specialized, especially with regard to retrieving game from the water. Grooming varies considerably among specific spaniel breeds.

Although some individual breeds are more common than others, spaniels include, in order from smallest to largest (by weight): Cocker Spaniel, English Cocker Spaniel, Boykin Spaniel, American Water Spaniel, Sussex Spaniel, Welsh Springer Spaniel, Field Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, Irish Water Spaniel, and Clumber Spaniel.

Playful and energetic dogs, especially when young, spaniels remain popular family pets that do well in many environments.

AKC Sporting Group Breeds

Irish Setter

Irish Setter