Dog breeds that start with A vary a lot more than their names suggest!
Some of these dog breeds are relative newcomers to the purebred circle while others have ancient historical origins.
As it turns out, “A” is not just the first letter of the modern English alphabet.
It is also the first letter in the name of some of the smartest, fastest, cutest, most clever purebred dog breeds in the modern world.
But each of these dog breeds that start with A have one thing in common—an international fan club of breeders and owners.
Are you pondering bringing a new pup into your family but don’t know where to start your research?
We invite you to dive in and learn about these fantastic “A” dog breeds.
The first of our dog breeds that start with A is the Affenpinscher. It’s a big breed name for a toy purebred dog, but what the Affenpinscher lacks in size he sure makes up for in personality.
“Confident,” “fearless,” “funny”—These are just a few of the adjectives that fans use to describe their favorite dog breed.
If you are looking for spunk, style and sass in a seven to 10-pound package, the Affenpinscher might be in your future.
Health issues to watch for include those associated with brachycephalic (flat-faced) dog breeds, including breathing issues and overheating.
This dog typically lives 12 to 15 years.
If ever there were a true canine supermodel, the Afghan Hound would probably be voted “dog breed most likely.”
Number two in our dog breeds that start with A has a long and luxurious coat. But this coat actually arose out of that basic necessity—staying warm while at work in the bitter winters of this dog’s home country, Afghanistan.
Today, pet Afghan Hounds typically spend more time at the groomers than in the great outdoors.
The Afghan weighs 50 to 60 pounds. This dog can suffer from hip dysplasia, eye issues and bloat (gastric torsion).
This dog’s average life span is 12 to 18 years.
The Airedale Terrier is number three in our dog breeds that start with A, and he’s the world’s largest terrier breed.
With this dog’s distinctive long goatee and clever, courageous spirit, it is no wonder the Airedale is nicknamed “King of the Terriers.”
This dog’s regal posture tends to make him look bigger than he actually is.
Most Airedales weigh 50 to 70 pounds as adults.
These dogs are great with kids and families.
They are also natural athletes who love to romp and play.
Airedales can suffer from hip dysplasia, and health issues related to their kidneys, hearts and ears.
Otherwise, this dog breed typically lives 11 to 14 years.
The Akita is an ancient purebred dog breed that originally called Japan home.
This noble and naturally reserved dog breed is Japanese royalty even today.
The Akita is a large dog that can weigh anywhere from 70 to 130-plus pounds.
Bred as a guard dog who will bond closely only with “their” people, early and ongoing socialization and training is a must to ensure the Akita will have a happy life in your local community.
The Akita can develop bloat, a sudden life-threatening condition where the stomach twists.
Other health concerns include hip dysplasia, eye issues and thyroid issues. Overall this breed lives 10 to 13 years.
The Alaskan Malamute is a spitz-type dog.
Spitz dogs have a distinctive appearance with long, thin muzzles, sharply upward-pointed ears and thick fur.
The Malamute is considered to be one of the earliest purebred sled dogs.
These 75 to 85 pound dogs have an impeccable work ethic and are incredibly loyal to their owners.
The Malamute can suffer from chondrodysplasia, a form of canine dwarfism.
Other health issues include hip and elbow dysplasia, along with thyroid, eye and neurological issues.
Overall, Malamutes typically live 10 to 14 years.
American English Coonhound
One of the less well known dog breeds that start with A is the American English Coonhound, a purebred dog in the hound group.
These dogs are extraordinary raccoon hunters and noted “singers.”
Like most hounds, they bay instead of bark.
Weighing 45 to 65 pounds, with a lean and sinewy working dog’s body, they are lightweight racers with coats that are nearly self-grooming other than the occasional bath.
Keep a watchful eye out for bloat, a condition where the stomach can suddenly twist.
Ask your vet about a preventative surgery. Coonhounds live 11 to 12 years on average.
American Eskimo Dog
The American Eskimo dog actually hails from Germany, but its breed name was changed after the second World War.
The American Eskimo dog does have a lovely long white to cream coat that can make one think of the Alaskan arctic.
This dog is bred in three sizes today: toy, miniature and standard. Weights range from 6 to 35 pounds.
These dogs are very clever, active and athletic, and they need to stay busy to stay out of trouble.
The American Eskimo dog can suffer from hip dysplasia and eye issues.
The typical life span is 13 to 15 years.
The American Foxhound originally hails from Virginia.
While they look much like their cousins, the English Foxhounds, American Foxhounds have longer legs.
These dogs are middleweights, weighing between 60 and 70 pounds as adults.
They love to run and chase, and have a very strong prey drive.
The American Foxhound’s ears need regular checks and cleaning to stay healthy.
These dogs can also be prone to hip dysplasia and blood issues. The typical life expectancy is 11 to 13 years.
American Hairless Terrier
The only bald dog in our list of dog breeds that start with A, the American Hairless Terrier first evolved in Louisiana in the United States.
The Hairless Terrier can also be coated!
Although no dog breed is truly hypoallergenic, non-coated Hairless Terriers have become particularly popular pets for people who suffer from pet allergies.
Weighing just 12 to 16 pounds, this terrier can be prone to luxating patella, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, hip dysplasia and heart issues.
The typical life span is 14 to 16 years.
American Leopard Hound
Weighing 45 to 70 pounds with lean, rangy bodies, American Leopard Hounds take their breed name from one of the color patterns they can display.
These dogs are known for their “treeing” ability, hunting everything from raccoons to bears and other tree-climbing game.
The Leopard Hound is easy to train and eager to please. They are very energetic and love to stay active.
This dog carries the merle color gene, so care should be taken not to breed two merle dogs together to reduce the risk of deafness.
The typical life span is 12 to 15 years.
American Staffordshire Terrier
The AmStaff, as this breed is commonly nicknamed, is a bull-type terrier that weighs in at 40 to 70 pounds and has a stocky, athletic build.
These dogs need little in the way of grooming but lots of daily exercise. They are very people-oriented and need to be with their families.
The AmStaff dog can develop hip dysplasia as well as eye, heart and thyroid issues.
Overall, this dog can live 12 to 16 years.
American Water Spaniel
The American Water Spaniel weighs 25 to 45 pounds but often looks bigger because of this dog’s lovely curly brown coat.
These dogs are great swimmers and hunters with a notable tolerance for icy water and weather.
These dogs need regular ear checks and cleaning to keep ear canals free from infection and wax buildup.
They also need lots of exercise to stay happy and healthy. Some known health issues include hip dysplasia, eye and heart concerns.
Otherwise, this dog can live 10 to 14 years.
Anatolian Shepherd Dog
The next of our dog breeds that start with A is the sizeable Anatolian Shepherd Dog.
Weighing anywhere from 80 to 150 pounds in adulthood, these dogs come from one of the oldest and most ancient and noble lineages of livestock guarding dogs.
The Anatolian Shepherd is an excellent guard dog who will guard everyone in “their” family—even other pets.
This dog can develop hip dysplasia, eye issues and bloat, although these are not common.
They typically live 11 to 13 years.
Appenzeller Sennenhund is pronounced “App-en-zeh-ler Sen-en-hoond.”
This Swiss-bred dog can do it all—herding, hunting, guarding, search and rescue.
Sometimes called the Appenzell Cattle Dog or the Appenzeller Mountain Dog, they need lots of daily exercise and activity to stay happy and healthy.
Weighing in between 48 and 70 pounds, as long as this dog gets enough exercise, this breed is generally healthy and can live 12 to 15 years.
Australian Cattle Dog
The Australian Cattle Dog is often called by its common name, the Blue Heeler (or the Red Heeler).
Sometimes identified as the Queensland Heeler, it is no secret where this dog breed originates from.
The Australian Cattle Dog is notoriously smart and creative, independent and strong-willed.
This dog gets its common name of “heeler” from the tendency to nip at the heels of livestock under its care.
The Australian Cattle Dog can inherit the gene for deafness and certain serious eye issues, as well as hip dysplasia.
This dog weighs 35 to 50 pounds and generally lives 12 to 16 years.
The most popular in Australia of our dog breeds that start with A, the Australian Kelpie dog is a herding dog. They actually first evolved in Scotland before ending up in Australia.
They have an incredible tolerance for hot, dry working conditions and will tirelessly herd cattle or other livestock for hours on end without complaint.
While Kelpies are not as common in North America, estimates show they are one of the most popular dogs in Australia.
They are typically healthy overall, and are good with families and children.
These dogs typically weigh 31 to 46 pounds and live 12 to 15 years.
The Australian Shepherd has one of the most misleading breed names in the “A” group.
These dogs aren’t from Australia at all.
Rather, they were first bred in Europe and then migrated with their people to Australia.
Then they migrated again to America, where they became stars on the rodeo and herding circuits.
They are gorgeous to look at, with long flowing coats, keen bright eyes, tons of energy and smarts, and a nonstop work ethic that can make them a real handful without sufficient daily activity.
This dog’s double-layer coat does need some raking and brushing regularly.
These dogs can suffer from some eye issues, hip dysplasia, epilepsy and certain forms of cancer.
The Australian Shepherd typically weighs 40 to 65 pounds and lives 12 to 15 years.
Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog
This dog’s name can be confusing to the uninitiated.
But the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is a distinct breed from the similarly named Australian Cattle Dog, even though they are quite alike in looks and weight (32 to 45 pounds).
But their main difference is that the Stumpy Tail dog has a bobtail naturally, whereas the Australian Cattle Dog’s tail is typically docked in puppyhood.
It is important to know this dog can inherit deafness and several severe eye issues.
Genetic testing in a good breeding program can test for these issues. Overall, this dog can live 12 to 15 years.
Just when you thought you finally knew all the Terriers in the world, along comes the diminutive and adorable Australian Terrier.
These lesser-known Terrier dogs weigh around 15 to 20 pounds as adults.
The Australian Terrier makes a great, loyal and vigilant family watchdog.
They love chasing, digging, running and working.
The Aussie can struggle with luxating patella and Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, as well as skin conditions.
This dog’s average life span is 11 to 15 years.
The last of our dog breeds that start with A is the Azawakh.
This is truly the purebred dog with the unusual name—Azawakh is pronounced “As-uh-walk.”
The name, like its owner, is of West African descent.
These incredibly thin, lean, rangy sighthounds typically weigh 33 to 55 pounds.
The Azawakh is an ancient hunting and coursing hound.
These dogs are sprinters fully capable of matching the pace of Saharan gazelles.
As an ancient dog breed, the Azawakh is one of the healthier purebred dogs today.
However, they can struggle with thyroid and heart issues.
Azawakh dogs can live 12 to 15 years.
References and Further Reading
- Donner, J., et al. 2018. “Frequency and Distribution of 152 Genetic Disease Variants in over 100,000 Mixed Breed and Purebred Dogs.” PLOS Genetics.
- Loder, R.T. and Todhunter, R.J., 2017. “The Demographics of Canine Hip Dysplasia in the United States and Canada.” The Journal of Veterinary Medicine.
- Rajewski, G., 2014. “The Genetics of Bloat.” Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.
- Waters, A. “Brachycephalic Tipping Point: Time to Push the Button?” Vet Record BMJ Journals.