What is a pedigree dog?

A pedigree dog is one that has parents which are both of the same breed. These parents must be registered with The Kennel Club or with another club or society recognised by us.

Purebred dogs make up around 75% of the 9-million-strong dog population in the UK, and within that there are 222 breeds to choose from. 

Each breed sits within one of seven groups:

Working (typically those bred to be search and rescue or guard dogs)
Over the centuries these dogs were selectively bred to become guards and search and rescue dogs. Arguably the Working group consists of some of the most heroic canines in the world, aiding humans in many walks of life, including the Boxer, Great Dane and St Bernard. This groups consists of the real specialists in their field.
Pastoral (herding dogs, usually associated with working cattle and sheep)
The Pastoral group consists of herding dogs that are associated with working cattle, sheep, reindeer and other cloven-footed animals. Usually this type of dog has a weatherproof double coat to protect it from the elements when working in sever conditions. Breeds such as the Collie family, Old English Sheepdogs and Samoyeds.
Gundog (dogs that were originally trained to find and/or retrieve game)
Dogs that were originally trained to find live game and/or retrieve game that had been shot and wounded. This group is divided into four categories – retrievers, spaniels, hunt/point/retrieve and pointers and setters – although many of the breeds are capable of doing the same work as the other sub-groups. They make good companions, their temperament making them ideal all-round family dogs.
Toy (small companion or lap dogs)
The Toy breeds are small companion or lap dogs. Many of the Toy breeds were bred for this capacity although some have been placed into this category simply due to their size. They should have friendly personalities and love attention. They do not need a large amount of exercise and some can be finicky eaters.
Hound (breeds historically used for hunting, either by scent or sight)
Breeds originally used for hunting either by scent or by sight. The scent hounds include the Beagle and Bloodhound, and the sight hounds include breeds such as the Whippet and Greyhound. Many of them enjoy a significant amount of exercise and can be described as dignified, aloof but trustworthy companions.
Terrier (dogs originally bred and used for hunting vermin)
Dogs originally bred and used for hunting vermin, ‘Terrier’ comes from the Latin word terra, meaning earth. This hardy collection of dogs was selectively bred to be extremely brave and tough, and to pursue fox, badger, rat and otter above and below ground. Dogs of Terrier type have been known here since ancient times, and as early as the middle ages, these game breeds were portrayed by writers and painters.
Utility (miscellaneous breeds, mainly of a non-sporting origin)
This group consists of miscellaneous breeds of dog mainly of a non-sporting origin including the Bulldog, Dalmatian, Akita and Poodle. The name ‘Utility’ essentially means fitness for a purpose and this group consists of an extremely mixed and varied bunch, most breeds having been selectively bred to perform a specific function not included in the sporting and working categories. Some of the breeds listed in the group are the oldest documented breeds of dog in the world.

Before looking for puppies or rescue dogs, search our Breeds A to Z to learn more about each breed.

For every breed of pedigree dog, there is a breed standard. This is a picture in words that describes the breed in detail, including what a healthy dog of that breed should look like, how it should move and what their character, needs and behaviour are likely to be.

Almost all breeds of dogs were developed over time to help humans in their work and daily life. Although most dogs are now companions and do not need to work, you should learn about what job your intended breed was developed to do. This will help you understand the innate behaviour for that breed and whether you are able to give your dog a happy, healthy life that is appropriate for that breed.

The benefits of owning a dog registered by The Kennel Club

  • Your dog will display the characteristics of the breed, in both looks and temperament
  • You will be able to breed from your dog and register the puppies with The Kennel Club
  • Your dog will be able to take part in shows and activities licensed by The Kennel Club
  • You can obtain a pedigree certificate for your dog - a unique record detailing your dog's family tree
  • You can see the results from health tests or screening schemes (if submitted to us) for every pedigree dog we register

Are there health risks?

Although many dogs will lead very healthy lives, all dogs have potential health problems. There are often DNA tests or screening schemes to help breeders avoid producing puppies with health conditions. Puppy buyers should research any tests and screening schemes that are relevant to the breed they are considering. Find out more in our Breeds A to Z.

Results from health tests or screening schemes of every pedigree dog registered with us can be found on our Health Test Results Finder. Armed with the knowledge about the parents' health will help maximise your chances of getting a healthy puppy.

Next steps