The Wolfram|Alpha Blog is now part of the Wolfram Blog. Join us there for the latest on Wolfram|Alpha and other Wolfram offerings »
Jeff Bryant

Woof! Which Dog Breed is Best? Compare Dog Breeds Side by Side

February 13, 2012 —
Comments Off

(Update: You can now find this data in the Wolfram Dog Breeds Reference App for iOS.)

Since prehistoric times, mankind has kept certain animals nearby for companionship, assistance in hunting tasks, and defense. Dogs are probably the most well-known examples of companion animals. This habit has continued to modern times and has resulted in a high number of dog breeds created for a variety of purposes. One modern convention is the concept of dog competitions. With the 2012 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show beginning today (more on this below), we thought this would be a good time to highlight some of the information Wolfram|Alpha has to offer concerning dog breeds:

List of dog breeds

What is a breed? Although there is no scientific definition that defines what a breed is, a breed is essentially a group of domesticated animals that, when bred together, results in offspring with predictable and consistent appearance, behavior, or other traits. Because there is no scientific definition, there are disagreements among people concerning whether a group of dogs can be considered a breed. It’s a bit confusing, with different kennel clubs recognizing different breeds, while others don’t.

The diversity of dog breeds and their appearance and traits is simply amazing. They originate from different regions. They vary in size from breeds that can almost fit in one hand to dogs capable of easily tackling a human. Use Wolfram|Alpha to find out the weight distribution among dog breeds. You can also rank dogs based on height or weight.

Tallest dog breed

Early dog breeds were most likely bred for obedience and utilitarian traits so that they could be useful to their keepers for survival. Many breeds that formerly existed are now extinct, and it is controversial to say which of the breeds found today is the oldest. Some of the oldest breeds include the Akita Inu, Basenji, Carolina Dog, and English Mastiff:

English Mastiff

Dog breeds have also been created for aesthetic reasons or for human companionship. Examples of this group might include the Maltese, Pug, and Shih Tzu:

Shih Tzu

Humans often take great pride in their efforts to tailor their pets to their specs. This has led to competitions where specific breeds are put up against one another using such traits as coat, size, obedience, and various other characteristics. This has become such a popular activity that it has even spawned movie parodies, like Best in Show, which revolve around the people that take part in the shows. At 2011’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the “Best in Show” winner was a Scottish Deerhound:

Scottish Deerhound

Complicating things is the tendency of humans to take one or more officially recognized breeds, cross them, and come up with new names to refer to these animals. Example such as the “Labradoodle” and “Peek-a-poo” come to mind. Because the results are often unpredictable, major kennel clubs don’t often recognize these cross-breeds. We currently follow the American Kennel Club and United Kennel Club lists, which do not recognize many of these breeds. There are many smaller kennel clubs, some of which are found only in individual countries, which recognize more obscure breeds. As time goes on, the major kennel clubs may add some new breeds to their lists, which keeps the world of dog breeds constantly changing. Which breed is your favorite? You can use Wolfram|Alpha to compare breeds:

Bichon Frise versus German Shepherd

If you are choosing which breed might be best for you. Wolfram|Alpha can provide useful tools to help shape your decision.


I love dogs!

This should be a fun discussion. At the moment I own 2: a Great Dane (tallest of them all), and a Doberman (fantastic guard dog). Both love them to death, and hopefully they will live on forever. Those dogs are my life.

Do you own any dogs Jeff?

Posted by Linda February 13, 2012 at 8:15 pm


Posted by Nik Palmer February 14, 2012 at 9:09 am

@ Linda: Who is Jeff?

Posted by Mabie February 14, 2012 at 3:48 pm


Thanks for the example!
Very interesting and ilustrative of the WolframAlpha knowledge sorting capabilities.

Would it be possible to do something similar for the differente human races?
For humans, there are significant differences in terms of size, color, presence accross the globe or even at genetic level. It offers a very good possibilities to map many knowledge fields (social, economics, geographical, genomics, medical, etc).

Posted by Carlos February 16, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Wouldn’t that be a little fascistic?

    Posted by Mabie February 16, 2012 at 11:00 am