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Species vs Breed


Life has existed on this planet for centuries. Through all these years, several life forms have come and many are gone, which means life has evolved over the years. There are so many living beings found on Earth, with different characteristics, some swim, some fly, some walk, and some crawl. It gets really difficult to individually identify them all. For this reason, all life forms ever existed on Earth or that still exist on Earth are categorized into different categories so they are easily identified and classified according to their unique features.

Species and breed are two terms that are used interchangeably to categorize organisms. There has been a lot of confusion between these two and most people consider them the same. However, it should be noted that the terms species, subspecies, breeds, and genus are completely different. This platform will allow you to dive into the meaning of these, how they differ from one another, and how are they the same. So, without any delay, let’s start!

What is a Species?


A species is the basic unit of classification, it is the largest group of organisms having similar characteristics. These organisms breed among themselves to produce fertile offspring. The unique feature of species is their ability to exchange genes between the different individuals of one species. This feature is known as the gene flow and it is a characteristic feature of a species, it does not occur among different species. The emergence of new species from previously existing species is known as ”speciation.” This process occurs due to the isolation of physical, behavioral, and reproduction factors of different populations. Several breeds are found in one species.

Examples of Species

Some common examples of species include:

  • Homo sapiens (humans)
  • Felis catus (domestic cats)
  • Vulpes vulpes (red fox)
  • Oryctolagus cuniculus (rabbit)

What is a Breed?


A breed is a collection of domestic animals present within a species. These animals are selected and cultivated to produce offspring having desirable characteristics. This is also known as selective breeding. Each breed is different from another breed of the same species. Their physical appearance and behavior differ from other organisms of the same species. A breed is smaller than any species, several breeds are present within one species.

Examples of Breed

One species has several different breeds. For example, dogs are a single species, and they are categorized into different breeds, including chihuahua, great Dane, beagle, or Labrador retriever.

Another species is cats, and their breeds are Siamese, Persian, Maine coon, ragdoll, etc.

Species vs Breed


Many people get confused between these two major terms, but the distinct features make them different from one another. Let’s discuss these differences in the table below.

A species is a group of organisms with similar
characteristics that breed to produce offspring
A breed is a group of domestic animals
within a species, having different characteristics
A species could be of plants, animals, or microorganismsA breed typically consists of domestic animals
Contains several breedsIt is smaller than a species
Species are naturally selected groups of organismsBreeds are an artificially selected group of organisms
High individual variationsComparatively low individual variations
Species have a sub-division known as sub-speciesBreeds do not have any sub-divisions
Organisms of two different species
cannot reproduce due to incompetence
Two breeds of one species may or may not interbreed
Examples include Panthera leo (lion)
and Apis mellifera (western honey bee)
Species are a naturally selected groups of organisms

Similarities between Species and Breeds

There are two main similarities found between species and breeds that are:

  • Both consist of organisms that can sexually reproduce and produce fertile offspring.
  • Another similarity is that both have organisms with similar behavioral and morphological features.

Bottom Line

Species and breeds are two terms used to classify organisms into different categories. These are often mixed, but there are clear differences. A species is a larger group of organisms with similar characteristics, while a breed is a group of domestic animals within a species having different features. Several breeds are present within one species and breeds are considered smaller than a species. One main similarity is that both breeds produce fertile offspring. Domestic animals selectively breed to produce animals with desirable characteristics. The features of one breed differ from those of another breed of the same species.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are a few frequently asked questions about species and breeds:

Is breed a specie?

A collection of organisms within a specie having different characteristics is called a breed. While a specie consists of organisms that interbred to produce offspring. The breed is considered a part of a species.

Are cows all one species?

Almost all modern domestic cows and cattle belong to the species; Bos taurus and Bos indicus or are crosses of these two species. Breeds of cattle have recently originated and are known commonly.

Are wolves and dogs the same species?

For a long time, wolves and dogs were categorized into two different species. Wolves were part of Canis familiaris, and dogs were part of Canis lupus. However, recently both of them are a sub-species of Canis lupus.

Which species has the most breeds?

Dogs are the species having the most breeds. There are almost 450 breeds of dogs recognized globally.

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