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What Is The Difference Between Breed And Species? (Explained)

What Is The Difference Between Breed And Species? (Explained)

The mystery of the difference between a breed and a species seems unsolved. It can be confusing as both terms are often used interchangeably. 

But let me tell you that these two terms, in reality, refer to different levels of classification for animals.

A species is a group of animals that can interbreed and produce fertile offspring, while a breed is a variety of domestic animals that humans have selectively bred.

Well, there are two main categories: genus and species. I have already mentioned the definition of species above. Genus is a category in which you can check the taxonomic classification which helps us to know the rank in the family.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the differences between a breed and a species in more detail to help you better understand these two terms. So, let’s dive into it…

What is a Breed?

A breed is a distinct selection of domestic animals within a species, selected and cultivated to have particular characteristics.

Dogs are one species with many different breeds, such as the Chihuahua, Great Dane, Beagle, or Labrador Retriever.

What is the breed?
An image of a running horse

Each breed can have its size and coloration, as well as special abilities and behaviors that have been cultivated over time. 

Sometimes domestic animals can be harmful if they are full-time in your custody. There are some unpredictable animals just like Rottweiler and Pitbull.

These two types of dogs are common if you are a pet lover but they need to be cared for by some professional to avoid any life risk.

Well, we all have noticed that there are some cross breeds species that share the same traits just like hair color combination or body shape.

Breeds result from careful breeding practices, where animals with desirable traits are selected for breeding to produce offspring with those desired traits. This kind of selection is what has enabled us to create the wide variety of different dog breeds that exist today.

What is Species?

A species is a scientific designation for a group of organisms that share certain characteristics and are capable of interbreeding.

Species can come in wide varieties, from familiar domestic animals such as cats and dogs to wild plants and animals found worldwide. 

What is species?
Different shades of brown eyes

The boundaries between different species are defined based on the ability of two members of the same species to produce viable, fertile offspring. 

When a common group shares the same organisms and can interbreed or can produce offspring, they are called species.

For example, German Shepherds and Rottweilers are considered the same species because they can interbreed successfully. And the mix of these dogs is known as Rottie Shepherd

The difference between a species and a breed can be subtle but an important distinction. Understanding the differences between these two terms is essential for any animal enthusiast or biologist. 

Difference Between Breed and Species

Domestic animals of the same species in various varieties Interbreeding animals that can produce fertile offspring by interbreeding
Humans selectively breed animals to have specific characteristicsA group of populations that occupy a specific niche in nature and reproduce
E.g., Chihuahua and Great Dane are breeds of dogE.g., horses, donkeys, and tigers are species
Breeds vs. Species

What is the Difference Between Breed and Subspecies?

What is the difference between breed and subspecies?
An image of the big cat

The difference between a breed and subspecies lies in how they are created. Subspecies are naturally occurring, distinct populations of the same species that exhibit morphological differences from one another. A great example is tigers and big cats. 

On the other hand, breeds are created by humans through artificial selection, which involves breeding animals or plants with specific desired traits, such as physical appearance or behavior. 

As a result, breeds are distinct lines of animals that can only be maintained through selective breeding and will quickly be lost if allowed to interbreed freely with other breeds.  

Are Humans Species?

Humans are technically not a single species. We belong to the genus Homo, which encompasses our extinct ancestors and other related hominids that once roamed the earth. 

Humans are now the only remaining survivors of this genus. Still, if we go back far enough in time, more than 200,000 generations ago, many different populations evolved into what we now call Homo sapiens sapiens

Our species has spread across the planet in a blink of an eye. It happened to our large brains, language, and social cohesion, making us the dominant species on Earth nowadays. 

But if we look at our evolutionary history, it’s clear that humans were not always so successful. We compete with other hominid species, such as Homo erectus and Neanderthals, meaning only one survived. 

There are millions and billions of humans in this world. We all are called the same homo sapiens but there are some unique styles, features, or anything which make us different from each other.

So while humans may not be technically a single species, we are the only ones left alive nowadays. This makes us unique, so it’s no surprise that questions about our existence continue to captivate us.

Can Lions and Tigers Breed?

It’s possible for lions and tigers to mate, although this usually only happens in captivity, where their natural ranges do not overlap.

Lions and tigers belong to the Panthera genus, meaning they have similar anatomy and DNA, yet are still considered separate species. However, breeding these big cats should be avoided since it can put the mother tigress at risk due to the size of their offspring.

Furthermore, it can lead to sterile hybrids and potential health issues due to their genetic differences. Therefore, the intentional breeding of tigers and lions is discouraged for the safety and well-being of the animals involved.

Is There a Difference Between Breed and Race?

Is there a difference between breed and race?
An image of different plants

When discussing animals, there is a clear distinction between breed and race. A breed is the result of intentional selective pairing and breeding, with members of the group having characteristics that identify them as part of that group. 

On the other hand, a race is a large-scale statistical cluster within a species; meaning all individuals have varying traits, but none are exclusive to any one race. 

This means that while you can have racial characteristics in all animals, including humans, the term breed should only be used when referring to intentional changes made by humans. 

That being said, it’s best to avoid using the word “race” entirely due to its cultural and social associations, as these could easily detract from your argument.

Let’s watch the video of 10 facts about endangered species.

10 Facts About Endangered Species


  • Breeds are varieties of domestic animals of the same species that humans have selectively bred to have particular characteristics.
  • Species are groups of animals that can interbreed and produce fertile offspring, forming a reproductive community of populations that occupies a specific niche in nature.
  • Understanding the differences between breeds and species is essential for any animal enthusiast or biologist.
  • Breeds and species can be distinguished by their reproductive capacities, as well as the specific characteristics that have been bred into them through selective breeding.

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