Mystery Solved: Why Cat Breeds Look Alike, But Dog Breeds Don’t

Dog breeds take the lead with the highest number of recognized breeds compared to cats. But why is there such a difference?

You may have noticed how cats seem to always resemble each other with similar, yet distinct traits. You’ll see the average cat prance around with it’s long, skinny body and whiskered button nose. Meanwhile, dog breeds represent the most diverse range of shapes and sizes from the tall and powerful Tibetan Mastiff to the short and fluffy Pomeranian. The Mastiff and Pomeranian are two very different and opposite-looking canines with two very different purposes.

The question: Why don’t pedigreed cats show the same differences in body shape and size as dog breeds do?

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Almost 15,000 years ago, canines underwent domestication to become man’s best friend. As the human-canine bond developed, people began to realize that dogs possessed the ability to perform specific tasks that could benefit humans in huge ways, whereas felines held simpler roles such as living as a household companion or hunting annoying mice. This realization urged breeders to undergo selective breeding and ultimately build the dogs that will help humans survive. Meanwhile, as dogs were being bred to achieve particular traits, cat owners weren’t too inclined to reinvent the cat’s body.

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According to the Cat Fanciers Association, there are 42 recognized cat breeds in the US. As for dogs, a whopping 190 breeds are recognized by the American Kennel Club. The World Canine Organization acknowledges a staggering 340 dog breeds. For decades, cats have been bred to produce consistent physical features such as a shortened snout, inward folded ears, round and lean faces, and a variety of colors and textures. This led to an increase in diversity of dogs and the set consistency of features seen in cats. When breeding to animals that tend to look alike as cats do, it is common to see less diversity among the breeds.

Cynthia Haldeman
Cynthia Haldeman

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