Which Non-Sporting Dog is Right for You?
When the American Kennel Club began designating dogs into different groups it was evident that a category was needed for the breeds that were arguably difficult to place in any of the other groups. These dogs were placed in the Non-Sporting Group. This group consists of dogs that for the most part are unrelated, except for the fact that they no longer perform the duties for which they were originally bred. For example, the Standard Poodle could have gone in the Sporting Group, as he once was a water retriever, and the Bulldog might be a Working breed if bull-baiting was still practiced. Other dogs could, if their purposes were loosely applied, find a place in one group or another. But realistically, it was logical to create a group to accommodate these different breeds. It is noteworthy to mention that this group is increasing in popularity as evidenced by their large entries at dog shows.
Seventeen breeds currently constitute the Non-Sporting Group recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). This very individualistic group has many popular and well-known breeds that range in their origin from all over the globe. The Non-Sporting Dog Group offers future dog owners an unusual variety of breeds from which to choose.
Large, small, long hair, short hair, different shapes and different colors - they are all represented here.
There are many things to keep in mind when deciding upon which Non-Sporting dog is right for you: your lifestyle, whether the dog will be kept indoors or outdoors, the amount of exercise you will be able to supply your new charge, and, of course, there is the matter of the dog's coat. As would be expected, the coats of the dogs within the Non-Sporting Group are quite varied, as each breed's original purpose was quite different from one another. From the Boston Terrier's carefree coat to the Poodle's high-maintenance one, coat care must be a breed-specific consideration prior to a purchase.
We suggest you attend dog shows whenever possible to see various breeds and talk to owners and handlers to gain as much information as possible. There are pros and cons to owning any breed, and the more you know, the better advised you will be to make the right decision.
Most American Kennel Club breed clubs have codes of ethics for their members who strive to produce physically and temperamentally sound dogs. You can contact breed clubs via the AKC by writing them at 5580 Centerview Drive, Suite 2, Raleigh, NC 27606; calling them at (919) 233-9767; or by looking them up on the Internet at www.akc.org. If you are intending to be a pet owner, don't worry about whether your pup is show quality. A mark here or there might disqualify a pup as a show winner, but has no impact on his ability to be a loving and healthy pet.
The initial price for a good, sound pet is negligible compared to its lifetime care cost, so it's better to start with a healthy dog from a reasonable source.
The following brief breed descriptions will provide only basic information. There are authoritative books of substance on all these breeds that can be obtained at book stores, pet stores, or by contacting breed clubs.
AMERICAN ESKIMO DOG
A member of the Spitz family, it is easy to trace the roots of the American Eskimo to the Nordic-type dogs, as their double coats, prick ears, wedge-shaped muzzles and curled-over-the-back tails easily place them in this category. This high-energy dog has a most agreeable temperament that makes him ideal for almost any living situation. Available in three sizes: Toy(12 inches), Miniature (12-15 inches), and Standard (15-19 inches), the Eskie proves to be a perfect-sized companion dog. A very hardy and intelligent dog that is trainable and obedient, the Eskie is boundless, especially in the snow and cold. Most judges would prefer that they were divided by size like the Poodle.
Descending from very small, frequently white lap dogs, the Bichon Frise has his roots set in the Mediterranean area as early as 600-300 BC. The Bichon is forever a happy little dog with a lively and carefree way of life. He is easygoing and gives from his heart without conditions. His stride and pleasant voice contribute to his appeal. An excellent children's dog, the Bichon excels in obedience and is very smart.
Sometime in the 1800s, American breeders in Boston began crossing English Bulldogs to English White Terriers to eventually produce this feisty little breed. A very easy-care companion, the Boston Terrier is neat and tidy and possesses no doggy odor. A very well-mannered and docile dog, the Boston is quiet and good mannered in the home. Bostons are generally non-combative souls, but true to their heritage, they can take good care of themselves and make marvelous watchdogs.
Originally bred for the dangerous job of bull-baiting, this once courageous, strong and tenacious breed is today a peaceful and good-natured soul with only love to share. A true family friend, the Bulldog needs an owner that will do things with him, not for him, making children the ideal companions. Not very agile nor a good watchdog, the Bulldog is the perfect homebody.
Formerly known as the Chinese Fighting Dog, the Shar-Pei is of Mastiff and Nordic descent. A breed that once held many jobs, this one-time hunter and protector and above all, fighter, would gladly give up any of these positions to be with his family. Alert and dignified, the Shar-Pei is affectionate with his own but aloof and independent among strangers. He can be a stubborn breed that requires good training and proper socialization. Much has been accomplished by breeders in developing their temperament
In the 18th century, ship captains would list any knickknack brought from the Orient as 'Chow-Chow," including the dogs that would eventually bear this name. In his home in China, he was called black-mouthed, black-tongued, a wolf, a bear dog or the dog of Canton, and was originally a utilitarian, all-around working dog and hunter. Today he is strictly a pet and a show dog. His unique bear-like appearance, prick ears, stilted gait and black tongue are hallmarks of the breed. He comes in two coat types: the rough and the smooth.
Named for their country of origin, Dalmatia, the Dalmatian has been employed in numerous tasks over the years. Best known as a coach dog, the Dalmatian had a great capacity as work horses. The breed's background lends it to being of great strength and stamina, however this can prove to be too challenging for some owners. Very dedicated and eager to please dogs, the Dalmatian is mild mannered, affectionate and delightfully clownlike. Dals love to run and jump and should not be denied this opportunity. He is readily recognized for his black-or- liver-colored spots on a white coat.
This hunter of small game and birds in his native land is a foxy-looking Nordic breed with a weather-resistant coat that can range from honey to deep auburn in color. He is a very active, quick, medium-to-small dog who is friendly but cautious. He is slowly gaining in popularity in North America.
The French Bulldog undoubtedly derived from the English Bulldogs who were sent to France where they were bred to other breeds. Ultimately the breed was exported to England. His main characteristics are his bat ears and large square head. He is rising fast in popularity in North America, following a long period where only a few were seen. They are a delightful breed, active, alert and playful with an even disposition.
A gray-black dog, the Keeshond was originally known in Holland as the Dutch Barge Dog. Always a good luck companion of sea faring vessels, the Keeshond is sure to bring goodness and happiness to any home he is welcomed. Easily adaptable to any lifestyle, the Keeshond is able to thrive indoors and out. Children and other dogs are favorite playmates of this bright happy breed.
With a rich history of interaction with man as a talisman, companion, and a symbol of divinity, the Lhasa Apso's roots trace to seventh century Tibet. The Lhasa was bred to emulate the holy lion. Today, the Lhasa still beams with elegance. Very protective of his home and family, the Lhasa is wary of strangers. With proper training at a young age, the Lhasa Apso is sure to be a perfect home companion who fully enjoys the company of children. He loves to lie by his owner's feet as he often did in the monastery, where he was the inside guard who lay under the monks' robe, keeping their feet warm.
STANDARD AND MINIATURE POODLE
A dog of German origin, the Poodle was once used as an excellent water retriever. In order to increase his speed in the water his non-shedding coat was clipped. This so captivated the French that they began to cut the Poodle's coat to establish patterns. From then on, the popularity of the breed grew rapidly and his intelligence made him a universal favorite - in the process, his retrieving ability almost forgotten. He is without a doubt one of the most recognizable of the dog breeds and is a delightful and spirited companion. The only difference between these two types of Poodles is their size.
Most probably a descendant of the Spitz-type dog, the Schipperke was once used on barge ships in Belgium. Always a small black breed, his size made him ideal for other jobs as well and he was a keen ratter and hunter of rabbits and moles. Schipperkes are very fond of people and of children in particular and are very protective of their family, to whom they are devoted.
The smallest of the Japanese dogs, the Shiba Inu is said to have originated from dogs brought over from the South Seas. His intelligence and quickness make the Shiba a great hunter of ground birds and other small game. A high-strung little dog, the Shiba needs an owner with a lot of energy who can treat his charge with great feeling. He is a tough little dog who can be aggressive and should be disciplined with kindness early in life.
Boasting a quite fascinating history, the little Tibetan Spaniel was once known in Tibetan monasteries as a "prayer dog." Prayers were written on parchment and put in a revolving box, and the little dogs were then trained to turn the prayer wheels. Outside of the monasteries, he was a popular watchdog and companion. Today this breed's chief position is in his owner's heart, for he is a loving breed who is ideal in the home and playful with children.
The original good luck charm of Tibet, the Tibetan Terrier also proved to be a competent herder and companion. His engaging personality endears this breed to people, and he is a hardy animal who is a doer. Adaptable to many lifestyles, the Tibetan Terrier is obedient and willing to learn. His long coat naturally needs constant attention and only an owner who is willing to devote the necessary time to this should consider this breed.